Casual Sexual Relationships and Florida’s Injunction Against Dating Violence (versus other injunctions)


When seeking an injunction in Florida to prevent someone from contacting you, pay careful attention to which statute best applies. This is the (unfortunate) lesson of Tyler Sumners v. Lindsey Thompson.

After meeting on Craigslist, the parties had a four year consensual sexual relationship punctuated by periods of time when they were dating other people. After Thompson broke off the relationship, Sumners appeared at Thompson’s house uninvited and sought to contact her by cellphone, email, and social media. He never made any threats however Thompson claimed that this was a pattern of behavior and she was afraid.

Sumners raised two defenses: one, the parties were not “dating” for an injunction against dating violence to apply. Two, there was no competent, substantive evidence that Thompson was reasonably in imminent danger of harm. The court agreed only with the second point.

Sumners lost his “we weren’t dating” argument because, under Florida Statute 784.046(1)(d), the injunction requires a “continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.” The court held: “[n]othing in the statute requires that the parties go out on a date, at least in the traditional sense of a couple going to dinner and a movie.” Instead, a purely sexual relationship (to use the vernacular: “friends with benefits” or “booty call”) still fit the statutory definition.

Sumners won the appeal, however, because he had not said or acted in a threatening manner and a single appearance at Thompson’s house plus persistence with calls and social media contact was not enough to meet the “imminent harm” standard.

The concurrence, however, tells the true lesson: Thompson and/or her lawyers could have considered injunctions against stalking, sexual violence, or other means to get a domestic violence injunction.

Are you facing an injunction or considering seeking one? Make sure you retain a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction who has experience litigating both sides of all types of injunction claims and who has experience with social media so that evidence is properly considered, obtained, and admitted into evidence in your favor.

Image credit: Max Pixel

1st Amendment
Three Steps to Understanding Why Government Officials Cannot Block Users on Social Media (Knight First Amendment Institute et al. v. Donald J. Trump et al.)

There is some confusion about the recent Second Circuit opinion as to how, on a private social media platform, a government official, using a personal account, cannot block other users. The following three step process should lead just about everyone to understand the outcome. The case is Knight First Amendment …

When You See People Trying to Sue a Social Media Platform Because Their Account Was Suspended, It’s a Stunt (lessons of the CDA & Brittain v. Twitter)

A number of politicians, activists, and others who feel aggrieved after their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and/or YouTube content has been removed or their accounts suspended have taken to the courts to sue the social media platforms with claims that they are being singled out, muzzled, or their free speech is …

1st Amendment
Applying “Old” Laws to New Technology: Smartphones, Recordings, Privacy (at FAU)

Special thanks to attorney / instructor Larry Buck for inviting me to speak to his Florida Atlantic University “Law in the Real World” honors class about my practice, particularly how we apply traditional laws to new, emerging technologies. We discussed: drone regulation First Amendment and social media (US v. Hobgood, …