Law firm claims its First Amendment rights were violated when judge banned its nursing home ad
A Mississippi-based law firm is asking the Georgia Supreme Court to overturn an injunction banning an ad that sought clients who suspected their loved ones were neglected or abused at a Moultrie, Georgia, nursing home.
The McHugh Fuller Law Group argues the injunction was overbroad and violated its First Amendment rights, according to a summary (PDF) of the case by the Georgia Supreme Court’s public information office. The appeal was scheduled for oral argument on Wednesday, report the Daily Report (sub. req.) and McKnight’s Long Term Care News.
The nursing home operator, PruittHealth Inc., had obtained an injunction under a Georgia law that allows judges to block use of trademarks or trade names if there is a likelihood the use will injure the business reputation of the owner or dilute the owner’s trademark or trade name.
In addition to the constitutional argument, the law firm contends the trial judge should have allowed the law firm to conduct discovery before issuing a permanent injunction at an interim hearing. It also says PruittHealth failed to demonstrate actual injury, and its ad did not dilute the strength of PruittHealth’s mark.
The Georgia Supreme Court ruled for the law firm in a similar case last year involving an ad targeting another PruittHealth nursing home in Toccoa. The supreme court said the trial judge erred by granting a permanent injunction at a hearing intended to consider a temporary ban on the ad.