In a bicoastal effort among Los Angeles partner Debra Meppen and senior counsel Yaron Tilles, and Miami senior counsel Truth Fisher, Gordon & Rees secured its second appellate victory on behalf of its restaurant and general manager clients against a disgruntled patron in a freedom of speech and civil harassment case.
On March 7, 2012, the Court of Appeals of California, Second District, issued its decision affirming the trial court's order renewing a "stay away" injunction against a former patron who had been harassing and threatening Gordon & Rees's restaurant-client and the restaurant's employees for a period of nearly four years. The Gordon & Rees team first obtained the "stay away" injunction against the former patron on September 2, 2008, which prevented the former patron from coming within a 100-yard distance of the restaurant-client or any of its employees. The former patron had unsuccessfully appealed that injunction raising numerous constitutional arguments under the First Amendment. However, the appellate court rejected such arguments and agreed with Gordon & Rees that the former patron's conduct was disturbing, annoying, and threatening to the health and safety of the restaurant's employees and existing customers thereby warranting a civil harassment restraining order.
For the next three years, the former patron remained ensued in litigation stemming from the 2008 restraining order against him including attempting to sue the Santa Monica Police Department and the District Attorney's Office alleging a conspiracy between these agencies and Gordon & Rees's client in an attempt to infringe upon the former patron's civil rights. On September 2, 2011, the civil harassment injunction was set to expire and Gordon & Rees moved to have the injunction against the disgruntled patron renewed, which was granted in the trial court. Relying upon similar constitutional arguments, the former patron again filed an appeal challenging the trial court's renewal of the injunction against him. However, the former patron made a fatal slip of the tongue when he testified in open court that "September 2, 2011 can't arrive too soon," which marked the expiration of the existing injunction against him.
The Gordon & Rees team convincingly argued in its appellate papers and at oral argument that this statement made by the former patron was a "suggestive threat" that the former patron had every intention of resuming his harassing and annoying conduct directed toward the restaurant-client, its employees and customers if the injunction was not renewed. The appellate court fully agreed with Gordon & Rees's position and affirmed the trial court's ruling in favor of Gordon & Rees for the second time.