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GA Supreme Court Affirms Contempt Order for Deactiviation of Facebook Page

August 3, 2015

In Davis v. VCP, the Georgia Supreme Court held that it was not an abuse of discretion for the trial court to grant an injunction requiring the defendant to take affirmative action to restore a company’s Facebook page which she had previously deactivated.

The defendant’s late husband, Keith Davis, was a plastic surgeon who founded a vein care practice (VCP) with fellow physician, Steven Roth, in 2004. The practice was very successful and “The Vein Guys”, as they became known, took steps to trademark a number of phrases such as “We’re So Vein” and “Real Talk”. Though paid for by VCP, the trademarks were placed solely in Davis’ name.

Davis passed away unexpectedly in January of 2010, leaving Roth as the only surviving member of VCP. Per VCP’s operating agreement, Roth had a first option to purchase all or part of the membership units owned by Davis. Roth wanted to exercise this option but negotiations with the defendant, as representative of Davis’ estate, reached an impasse toward the end of 2010.

As a result, VCP filed suit against the Davis estate regarding the ownership of trademarks and Roth’s option to purchase Davis’ share of VCP. In March 2014, despite the fact that the issue regarding ownership of the trademarks was pending, the defendant contacted Facebook and, asserting trademark infringement, had the The Vein Guys Facebook page disabled and taken down.

In response to the disabling of their Facebook page, VCP made a motion for emergency injunctive relief which resulted in an order requiring the defendant to reinstate the Facebook page. The defendant did not comply with this order and, a week after its issuance, VCP filed a motion for contempt. The defendant was not held in contempt at this time but was ordered to take affirmative action to comply with Facebook’s instructions regarding the reinstatement of VCP’s page no later than April 4, 2014.

Because the Facebook page was not reinstated until April 14, 2014, the court entered a finding of both civil and criminal contempt against the defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed the order of contempt, finding that the failure to obey the court’s order and immediately reinstate VCP’s Facebook page constituted willful disobedience and since there was sufficient evidence of the defendant’s disobedient behavior, the Supreme Court declined to overturn the trial court’s ruling.

Therefore, despite the fact that The Vein Guys Facebook page was ultimately reinstated on April 14, 2014, the defendant was unable to successfully challenge her contempt charges since there was evidence on the record showing that she willfully disobeyed the trial court’s original order for injunctive relief.

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