Miami Heat Owner Wins Injunction Against Blogging Critic; Asks For Contempt After She Blogs More About The Case

from the free-speech? dept

Remember Raanan Katz? The Florida real estate mogul and part-owner of the Miami Heat, made some news earlier this year for suing Google and a blogger for copyright infringement after the blogger posted an "unflattering" photo of Katz. Katz, who was clearly annoyed at the blogger -- a former Katz tenant who is (to put it mildly) not a fan of Katz -- for blogging critical stories about Katz (including highlighting some earlier lawsuits Katz had been involved with and posting the related legal documents). In addition to suing for defamation, Katz purchased the rights to the "unflattering" photo the blogger, Irina Chevaldina, had posted of him, and then sued for copyright infringement. Google was included on the case for refusing to take down the photo. While Google was later dropped from the case (one assumes that someone somewhere finally realized that, perhaps that end of the suit wasn't going to end well), Katz has continued his case against Chevaldina.

Earlier this month, the judge in the case signed off on a ridiculously broad injunction against Chevaldina, that not only says that she can't "trespass" on Katz's properties, but that she can't blog anything that is intended to "otherwise cause harm" to Katz. That doesn't seem even remotely constitutional. Criticizing someone is protected speech, even if it may (or is intended) to cause harm to someone's business. And the "trespass" injunction may seem like no big deal, especially since trespassing is already illegal. But, in this case, the court has indicated that by "trespassing" they mean that Chevaldina cannot even go to any of the properties that Katz owns -- which includes stores and shopping malls. As Carlos Miller notes in the link above:
On Thursday, a Florida judge found no evidence that Katz suffered defamation or damages because of Chevaldina's blog, but nevertheless banned her and her husband from stepping on any of Katz's properties, which pretty much prevents them from visiting any of the local businesses in the community of Sunny Isles, which is known as Little Moscow for its high Russian population.

Judge Ellen Leesfield said they shouldn't want to visit these premises anyway because of their hatred for the man.

But Chevaldina said many of these business owners are their Russian friends who rent from Katz and invite them into their stores and restaurants.
That was earlier this month in a verbal injunction. Right before Thanksgiving, the judge signed off on the text injunction that Katz's lawyers wanted... and then Chevaldina posted a few blog posts on her blog, including a story about an earlier dispute between her and Katz, in which it was ruled that Katz cannot use a "trespassing" claim to keep her out of retail establishments that he owns. Then there's another post highlighting how courts have said that shopping malls and shopping centers are often deemed the equivalent of public places. While she doesn't do a particularly good job explaining what she's posting, it's not hard to figure out that she's highlighting some questions about the injunction against her, which seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do and a form of protected speech.

In response, however, Katz's lawyers have now filed for contempt charges against her, saying that those blog posts, which support her position that the injunction is improper, are in and of themselves, breaking the injunction. Get your head around that. While the blog posts may be a bit wacky, it seems way, way over the top to argue that such blog posts are in contempt of the injunction. It also raises serious First Amendment questions to suggest that you can't even discuss details of the case that you, yourself, are involved in.

On top of that, it's worth noting in the filing that Katz's lawyers still are claiming that Katz is not a "public figure." They've been claiming that since the beginning, because the bar to show defamation of a public figure is much higher. But the idea that Raanan Katz is not a public figure is preposterous. As detailed in a Miami NewTimes article from last year, Raanan Katz is, by any measure, a public figure.
In Sunny Isles Beach, Raanan Katz has a street and an official day named in his honor. His company, with its omnipresent "RK" basketball logo, seems to claim every other strip mall in North Miami-Dade. He's also minority owner of the Miami Heat....

Katz cuts a singular figure in Miami. Once an Israeli basketball star, he built a real estate empire in Boston before gobbling up a block of South Beach in 1984. Two years later, he bought into the expansion Heat franchise and has been a courtside fixture since then.
How can he continue to claim he's not a public figure?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    S. T. Stone, Nov 29th, 2012 @ 2:27pm

    It's worth noting in the filing that Katz's lawyers still are claiming that Katz is not a "public figure."

    Give the Internet a few hours, and I think it could change that status...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), Nov 29th, 2012 @ 2:38pm

    Judges without a shred of knowledge on the law

    THIS is the reason i don't think we should elect judges. Let the bar do it - have the prosecutors rate all judges and then have all defense attorneys rate the same judges. Whichever gets the highest combination rating gets the job. At least then we MIGHT have a hope that the judge has a working knowledge of.....the law

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2012 @ 3:20pm

      Re: Judges without a shred of knowledge on the law

      It's cases like this that convince me that total judicial independence is a mockery of the democratic process. Judges need to be held accountable for mistakes, just like anyone else.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2012 @ 3:35pm

        Re: Re: Judges without a shred of knowledge on the law

        This, we need a system for disciplinary action of judges and justices.

        It's ridiculous that they can make rulings that destroy the lives of ordinary people. This judge clearly is clearly too emotionally charged to be making these kinds of rulings.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Nov 29th, 2012 @ 3:04pm

    Slow down, Mike! You're burning up teh internets!

    18 posts in 3 pieces in the last 3 hours! An astounding 6 comments per hour! How long can this frantic pace go on?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      ldne, Nov 29th, 2012 @ 3:44pm

      Re: Slow down, Mike! You're burning up teh internets!

      It would appear to most reasonable readers of this site that you have no life.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Aaron *Head* Moss (profile), Nov 29th, 2012 @ 4:00pm

      Re: Slow down, Mike! You're burning up teh internets!

      I've been somewhat reading your posts on here for awhile. I'm not quite sure what's going on, but you're acting like a spurned lover.

      Did "Pirate Mike" spurn your affections towards him?

      Is that the reason for all this stupidity?

      Just curious.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2012 @ 3:32pm

    "YOU DON'T LIKE THE MAN ANYWAY SO I GUESS U DUN WANT TO ASSOCIATE WITH ANYTHING THAT IS SORT-OF-NOT-REALLY ASSOCIATED WITH HIM"

    What a dumb crybaby argument from another dumb crybaby judge who was probably 'influenced' into giving in to this dumb crybaby airhead. Another instance of "Your life and freedom should end where the feelings of important people begin".

    Hopefully this will get to appeals and give this blogger a precedent for a countersuit to this awful, gut-wrenching mess.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Vic, Nov 29th, 2012 @ 3:59pm

    I looked around and it seems that Mr Katz has got himself a very colorful attorney - Alan Kluger. Claiming to be a big First Amendment guy, yet scolding a photographer in a court room with no good reason at all, citing non-existent Florida laws. Specializes in celebrity divorces, not free speech, as you would expect of a First Amendment guy... Hey, look at that - donated to the Judge Ellen Leesfield re-election campaign! What a coincidence...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2012 @ 7:03pm

    So how come this judge isn't spanked right out of court by a higher court???

    I mean by now there should be a large number of Judges and Polititians facepalming over what is almost certianly a violation to the whole free speach idea, and backed up by the whole you can't go onto any property owned by the plaintiff even if it's leased by some-one you know.

    I am not a fan of the US exporting its laws... but when it can't even get it's own house in order....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Nov 30th, 2012 @ 3:13am

    High Court, Low Court.
    Its good to be rich and have influence, you get special treatment... the best money can buy.

    I look forward to this Judge having the records of donations to the campagin, as well as any new toys or property acquisitions... but then I forget no one wants to challenge the obvious double standard.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 4:32am

    Would 4chan be interested in these two fine lads?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 5:11am

    LOL Katz

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 6:15am

    Raanan Katz is apparantly so thin skinned that you can see right through it to his organs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Thomas (profile), Dec 2nd, 2012 @ 6:43am

    Could it be...

    the Judge has connections to Katz? A relative? Gets free tickets to the Miami Heat? Has a hidden incentive to rule in Katz' favor no matter how dumb the ruling?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    quistion, Mar 16th, 2013 @ 2:33am

    Finance Real Estate

    I have read the above Blog thoroughly. This is a nice and useful Blog. I have pleased to watch this Blog . Plz post this kind of Blog more. If you are interested to us,plz watch my post in below:Miami real estate professionals generate customers through ads if he is interested in buying or selling Miami homes and Miami apartments. They publish the offers of the clients on a lot of pages on the internet. They advise the client on where to start from and clarify the legal procedures.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Scot Strems, Aug 5th, 2013 @ 2:19am

    On top of that, it's worth noting in the filing that Katz's lawyers still are claiming that Katz is not a "public figure."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This