by Paul Alan Levy
The Virginia Supreme Court has summarily reversed a preliminary injunction requiring the author of a consumer review criticizing a Washington DC contractor to revise her statements about the contractor. We filed a petition for review arguing that the injunction was an impermissible prior restraint, in addition to violating the common law rule that "equity will not enjoin a libel." Without even waiting for a response from the plaintiff, the Supreme Court invalidated the injunction first on the highly technical ground that it did not specify the time during which the injunction would be effective, but also because "the preliminay injunction was not justified and . . . the respondents have an adequate remedy at law."
As a result of the ruling, the contractor, Christopher Dietz, will be able to pursue his claims for damages, but in the meantime, members of the public will be able to review Jane Perez's criticism and Dietz's responses, and make up their own minds.
The preliminary injunction hearing transcript (with testimony from both Dietz and Perez), the exhibits from both sides, and our petition for review to the Virginia Supreme Court as well as that court's ruling are linked from this page.