United States District Court, N.D. Georgia
For Franklin White, Plaintiff: Alan Stuckey Clarke, LEAD ATTORNEY, The Entertainment Law Group Alan S. Clark & Associates, LLC, Atlanta, GA.
For Alcon Film Fund, LLC, Alcon Entertainment, LLC, Cube Vision, Inc., Warner Bros. Pictures, Time Warner, Inc., Defendants: Anthony D. Sbardellati, Gerald L. Sauer, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Sauer & Wagner, LLP, Los Angeles, CA; Anna Mirshak Burns, Gary S. Freed, Thompson Hine LLP-GA, Atlanta, GA.
Timothy C. Batten, Sr., United States District Judge.
In this copyright infringement action, Plaintiff Franklin White claims that the movie Lottery Ticket, which Defendants allegedly were involved in making, infringes his book First Round Lottery Pick . The case comes before the Court on White's motion for a preliminary injunction .
A " preliminary injunction is a drastic remedy not to be granted unless the movant clearly establishes the 'burden of persuasion' as to all four elements." Siegel v. LePore, 234 F.3d 1163, 1176 (11th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (internal citation omitted). To obtain a preliminary injunction, White must demonstrate that (1) his claims have a substantial likelihood of success on the merits; (2) he will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction; (3) the harm suffered by White in the absence of an injunction would exceed the harm suffered by Defendants if the injunction is issued; and (4) an injunction would not disserve the public interest. Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. v. 1-800-Contacts, Inc., 299 F.3d 1242, 1246-47 (11th Cir. 2002).
White's motion falls far short of satisfying these requirements.  The likelihood of success on the merits is generally considered the most important of the four factors. Garcia-Mir v. Meese, 781 F.2d 1450, 1453 (11th Cir. 1986). Yet White dedicates only a single sentence of his motion to addressing this factor; he argues, " In support of his application, Plaintiff shows that he has a substantial likelihood of success on the merits and that, upon balancing the convenience of the parties, greater harm may be done by refusing than granting the motion." This conclusory statement, bereft of any legal support, is plainly insufficient to carry White's burden of showing a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of his claims.
Moreover, White has failed to submit any evidence in support of his motion for a preliminary injunction, and in fact fails to even offer his own declaration in support of his motion. While in his reply brief in support of his motion White points out that with his amended complaint he filed the expert report of Kathryn Arnold in which she concludes that Defendants have infringed his copyright, he did not file that report in support of his motion for an injunction. But even if he had, Arnold's report offers no legal discussion and does not cite to a single case. Similarly, White's reply brief in support of his motion includes no application of case law, relying solely on Arnold's expert report.
White attempts to sidestep the substantial-likelihood-of-success requirement by arguing that " both the Ninth and the Eleventh Circuits in recent years have adopted the 'Serious Question' standard for preliminary injunctions rather than the likelihood of success standard." The Eleventh Circuit has held no such thing. See Bethany Bates, Reconciliation After Winter: The Standard for Preliminary Injunctions in Federal Courts, 111 Colum. L. Rev. 1522, 1544 (2011) (" Both the Eleventh and Fifth Circuits maintain their requirement of a substantial likelihood of success on the merits." ). As much is made clear by
White's own case citations, which are to the Ninth Circuit's opinion in Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Cottrell, 632 F.3d 1127, 1135 (9th Cir. 2011), and the opinion of the Second--not the Eleventh--Circuit in Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade v. City of New York, 615 F.3d 152 (2d Cir. 2010).
But even if the Eleventh Circuit did apply the serious-question standard, White has failed to carry his burden under it as well. To succeed under that standard in either the Ninth or Second Circuit, a party must show a serious question going to the merits and that the balance of hardships weighs strongly in his favor. Cottrell, 632 F.3d at 1135 (" '[S]erious questions going to the merits' and a balance of hardships that tips sharply towards the plaintiff can support issuance of a preliminary injunction, so long as the plaintiff also shows that there is a likelihood of irreparable injury and that the injunction is in the public interest." ); Metro. Taxicab, 615 F.3d at 156 (preliminary injunction may issue upon " either a likelihood of ...