Lawrence v. Delbridge

Filing 7

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER granting in part and denying in part the motion for emergency status quo-safety hearing 1 ; directing as follows: (1) Lawrence's request for the appointment of a Guardian ad Litem is DENIED; (2) the parties to this litigation shall have no contact with each other except through or in the presence of legal counsel during the pendency of this matter; (3) a consolidated hearing on the request for preliminary injunction and trial on the merits shall be held; Jury S election set for 9/28/2009 in Courtroom 2A USC, Montgomery, AL before Hon. Chief Judge Mark E. Fuller; Jury Trial set for 10/5/2009 before Hon. Chief Judge Mark E. Fuller; (4) Lawrence shall provide security in the amount of $1,000 to pay the co sts and damages sustained by any party found to have been wrongfully enjoined or restrained; (5) Neither def Delbridge, nor anyone acting on her behalf shall disparage Lawrence about any issue related to Lawrence's possession of Mistress or Jupi ter, or Lawrences prior relationships with Delbridge or Ballard until the conclusion of the trial in this case, as further set out in order; (6) Neither Plf Lawrence, nor anyone acting on his behalf shall in any way take intentional or affirmative ac tion that might in any way diminish the value of either Jupiter or Mistress, as further set out in order; (7) Until the resolution of this action, neither Plf Lawrence, nor anyone acting on his behalf, shall engage in any conduct that would impair hi s ability to surrender Mistress and Jupiter to Def Delbridge should it be found that she is the rightful owner; (8) Until the resolution of this action, neither Def Delbridge, nor anyone acting on her behalf, shall engage in any conduct that would im pair Plf Lawrence's ownership interest in Mistress and Jupiter should it be found that he is the rightful owner; (9) the parties shall be required to prepare and submit trial briefs addressing all salient points of law and arguments specifically addressing the requested injunctive relief by no later than 9/18/09; (10) A separate scheduling order shall be issued, but the parties are specifically relieved from the obligation of conducting a parties' planning meeting pursuant to Federal R ule of Civil Procedure 26 and discovery shall commence immediately to accommodate the accelerated trial setting; (11) All provisions of this temporary restraining order directed to the conduct of the parties shall expire upon entry of final judgment in this case. Signed by Hon. Chief Judge Mark E. Fuller on 8/31/09. (Attachments: # 1 civil appeals checklist)(djy, )

Download PDF
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT F O R THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA N O R T H E R N DIVISION L E E LAWRENCE, P la in tif f , v. M E L IN D A DELBRIDGE, D e f e n d a n t. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) C A S E NO. 2:09-CV-815-MEF (W O - DO NOT PUBLISH) M E M O R A N D U M OPINION AND ORDER T h is cause comes before the Court on the Motion for Emergency Status Quo-Safety H e a rin g (Doc. # 1). For good cause shown and without objection from Defendant, the m o tio n shall be GRANTED in PART and DENIED in PART. P la in tif f Lee Lawrence ("Lawrence") declares that he purchased a pregnant mare n a m e d "Mistress" from Tammy Ballard ("Ballard") on February 5, 2009. In March of 2009, M is tre s s gave birth to a foal named "Jupiter." Defendant Melinda Delbridge ("Delbridge") owned Mistress at some point prior to Ballard. Mistress conceived Jupiter while owned by D e lb rid g e . Delbridge claims that Mistress is her horse and that she was wrongfully taken f ro m her by Ballard. It is alleged that Delbridge sought to prosecute Ballard for the wrongful ta k in g of mistress. Furthermore, Lawrence declares that Delbridge has threatened to have h im arrested for receipt of stolen property. Fearing that Delbridge might have him arrested o r come onto his property to take Mistress and Jupiter, Lawrence filed this lawsuit in the C irc u it Court of Elmore County, Alabama on June 8, 2009. The lawsuit not only seeks to q u ie t title to the horse, but it also alleges that Delbridge has slandered, defamed, libeled, defrauded, and harassed Lawrence. Lawrence seeks at least $100,000 in damages as well as in ju n c tiv e relief. Delbridge was served on July 30, 2009. On August 27, 2009, Delbridge removed the c a s e to this Court invoking this Court's subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1 3 3 2 (a ). Delbridge states that she is a legal resident of Georgia. Lawrence is a resident of A la b a m a . The damages claimed in the Complaint satisfy the amount in controversy re q u ire m e n t for diversity jurisdiction. While the case was still pending in the Circuit Court of Elmore County, Alabama, L a w re n c e filed the Motion for Emergency Status Quo-Safety Hearing. The Circuit Court of E lm o re County, Alabama took no action on the motion. Once the case was removed, h o w e v e r, this Court recognized that this motion was in fact a request for a temporary re s tra in in g order pursuant to Rule 65(b). This request was properly supported by an affidavit f ro m Lawrence setting forth his concerns about the imminent harm to the status quo he fears if Delbridge is not temporarily enjoined. The Court convened a hearing on the motion by te le p h o n e conference on August 28, 2009. During this hearing, counsel for Delbridge in d ic a te d that there was no opposition to the granting of the requested temporary restraining o rd e r. The appropriate amount of security was discussed as was the setting of a consolidated p re lim in a ry injunction hearing and trial on the merits pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil P ro c e d u re 65(a)(2). Based on the record before it and the representations of the parties, the C o u rt is satisfied that Lawrence has established his entitlement to a temporary restraining 2 order as set forth below because the evidence establishes a need to preserve the status quo u n til the merits of this case can be litigated. Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED as follows: (1 ) Lawrence's request for the appointment of a Guardian ad Litem is DENIED. (2) The parties to this litigation shall have no contact with each other except through o r in the presence of legal counsel during the pendency of this matter. (3 ) A consolidated hearing on the request for preliminary injunction and trial on the m e rits shall be held. Jury selection for this trial shall be conducted on September 28, 2009 in Courtroom 2A the United States District Courthouse in Montgomery, Alabama. Trial shall c o m m e n c e on October 5, 2009. (4 ) Lawrence shall provide security in the amount of $1,000 to pay the costs and d a m a g e s sustained by any party found to have been wrongfully enjoined or restrained. (5) Neither Defendant Melinda Delbridge, nor anyone acting on her behalf shall d is p a ra g e Lawrence about any issue related to Lawrence's possession of Mistress or Jupiter, o r Lawrence's prior relationships with Delbridge or Ballard until the conclusion of the trial in this case. Should she have any written or electronic statements on the internet or e ls e w h e re suggesting that Mistress or Jupiter have been stolen from her, she shall im m e d i a te l y remove them until after the trial of this cause. Neither Defendant Melinda D e lb rid g e , nor anyone acting on her behalf shall take any action to institute criminal charges a g a in s t Lawrence or any member of his family relating to Mistress or Jupiter until after the tria l of this cause. Defendant Melinda Delbridge shall have no contact with Mistress or 3 Jupiter until after the trial of this cause and she shall not use the likeness of either horse for a n y purpose. Defendant Melinda Delbridge shall make no attempt to obtain physical custody o r possession of Mistress or Jupiter until after the trial of this cause. Defendant Melinda D e lb rid g e is restrained from entering onto any property that Plaintiff Lee Lawrence owns or le a s e s for the purpose of maintaining Mistress or Jupiter until after the trial of this cause. (6) Neither Plaintiff Lee Lawrence, nor anyone acting on his behalf shall in any way t a k e intentional or affirmative action that might in any way diminish the value of either J u p i t e r or Mistress. This means, among other things, that Lawrence and his agents are re s tra in e d from rendering either horse incapable of reproduction. Neither Defendant M e lin d a Delbridge, nor anyone acting on her behalf shall in any way take intentional or a f f irm a tiv e action that might in any way diminish the value of either Jupiter or Mistress. (7) Until the resolution of this action, neither Plaintiff Lee Lawrence, nor anyone a c tin g on his behalf, shall engage in any conduct that would impair his ability to surrender M is tre s s and Jupiter to Defendant Delbridge should it be found that she is the rightful owner. (8) Until the resolution of this action, neither Defendant Melinda Delbridge, nor a n yo n e acting on her behalf, shall engage in any conduct that would impair Plaintiff L a w re n c e 's ownership interest in Mistress and Jupiter should it be found that he is the rig h tf u l owner. (9) The parties shall be required to prepare and submit trial briefs addressing all s a lie n t points of law and arguments specifically addressing the requested injunctive relief by n o later than September 18, 2009. 4 (10) A separate scheduling order shall be issued, but the parties are specifically re lie v e d from the obligation of conducting a parties' planning meeting pursuant to Federal R u le of Civil Procedure 26 and discovery shall commence immediately to accommodate the a c c e le ra te d trial setting. (11) All provisions of this temporary restraining order directed to the conduct of the p a rtie s shall expire upon entry of final judgment in this case. D O N E this the 31 st day of August, 2009. /s/ Mark E. Fuller CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 5

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.


Why Is My Information Online?