Florida Second DCA: ShesAHomewrecker.com Case

Defamation

Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal recently ruled in Melissa Leach v. Tara Michelle Kersey that, under case-specific facts, sending messages, Facebook friending, and posting about another person on She’s A HomeWrecker.com were not “cyberstalking” under Florida Statute 784.0485.

Under the cyberstalking statute, there must be at least two incidents of willful, malicious cyberstalking before a trial court may enter an injunction.  Cyberstalking involves email or electronic communication, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.  The “substantial emotion distress” is measured under a reasonable-person standard and, overall, there must be competent, substantial evidence of cyberstalking.

According to the Second District, “[t]his case arose from the eighteen-month affair Kersey had with Leach’s husband, Dr. Leach.  After Leach learned of the affair, she contacted Kersey by phone and by messages and ‘friend’ requests on Facebook.”  The Court concluded that “Leach made the contacts for the legitimate purpose of telling Kersey to stay away from Dr. Leach.”  Moreover, the Court noted that, “[a] reasonable woman who had an eighteen-month affair with another woman’s husband might well expect to hear the scorn of an angry wife.”

As for whether posting on ShesAHomewrecker.com is cyberstalking, the Second District noted that “the post disclosed Kersey’s involvement in the affair” and that Kersey “bec[a]me concerned [after] Leach posted on the public blog.  Kersey stated that her primary concern was that her children would find out about the situation.”  Whether this would fit under the cyberstalking statute was left unaddressed since this would only be one incident — and at least two are required.

The ShesAHomewrecker.com site (and its Facebook counterpart) has been described as a “site for bullies” by CNN and, according to HuffPo, as a site which “relentless shames the other woman.”

From the context, it appears this may be the “Homewrecker” post which is the subject of this opinion.

 

 

1st Amendment
Is a Demand for an Apology = Extortion? (Social Media & First Amendment:U.S. v. Hobgood)

In the song, “Hello,” Adele sings as a jilted lover, calling “a thousand times… to tell you I’m sorry.” It became a hit song in 2015. Contrast that with the facts of U.S. v. Hobgood, out of the Eighth Circuit, where the defendant had a brief romantic relationship with “KB,” …

Privacy
Don’t Let LinkedIn Follow You Around the Internet (and other privacy settings)

Have you checked your LinkedIn privacy settings? Don’t be fooled with a “I barely even used LinkedIn” attitude. Take 2 minutes. From the article below, here are the key steps: [easier if you have two screens, keep this open and then open your LinkedIn account on your second screen] 1. …

Ethics
Florida Supreme Court Allows Judges to be Facebook Friends With Lawyers But Four Justices Disagree With the Practice (“I write to strongly urge judges not to participate in Facebook”)

The Florida Supreme Court resolved a conflict between two intermediate appellate courts when it determined that a judge-lawyer “Facebook friend” relationship, alone, was not enough to warrant recusal of the judge.  The Court deemed its position was the majority position around the country.  However, four justices noted that caution, if …