Many jurisdictions, including Pennsylvania, follow the old common law rule that equity will not enjoin a libel. The First Amendment carries a presumption against prior restraints, but does not pose an absolute bar to injunctive relief in defamation actions. Still, most courts are extremely reluctant to grant equitable relief in actions for libel, slander, invasion of privacy, and related actions, due in no small part to the fact that money damages are usually adequate to compensate the plaintiff.
Recently, in Pennsylvania, Dr. Steven R. Graboff, a board certified orthopaedic surgeon and expert witness, tried unsuccessfully to obtain an injunction against the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), requiring them to remove from their website an article that portrayed him in a false light. In an earlier action, Graboff had sued for false light invasion of privacy based on the offending article and a jury awarded him $196,000 in economic and non-economic damages. After the lawsuit, however, AAOS refused to take down the article. So Dr. Graboff sued them again, alleging “continued tortious conduct.”
He sought an injunction as well as additional compensatory and punitive damages, claiming AAOS intentionally and maliciously disregarded his rights by keeping the harmful article on the website in willful disregard of the earlier judgment. AAOS moved to dismiss this new action on several grounds.