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Miller v. Miller

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 25, 2018



          Janet C. Hall United States District Judge.


         Plaintiff Jeffrey Miller (“Mr. Miller”) brings this action pro se against defendant Adrienne Miller (“Ms. Miller”), his sister, alleging defamation, malicious prosecution, infliction of emotional distress, and wrongful death. See generally Complaint (“Compl.”) (Doc. No. 1). Pending before the court is Mr. Miller's Motion for Preliminary Injunction (“Pl.'s Mot.”) (Doc. No. 2), which seeks to enjoin Ms. Miller from making defamatory statements about him.

         For the following reasons, this Motion is denied.

         II. FACTS

         The case arises out of a family dispute between Mr. Miller and his sister, Ms. Miller. See Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for Preliminary Injunction (“Pl.'s Mem.”) (Doc. No. 2-1) at 1. According to the Complaint, Ms. Miller reconnected with Mr. Miller and their mother in January 2013, after being estranged from the family for thirteen years. See Compl. at ¶ 6. Soon after Ms. Miller's return, items from the mother's home in Wilton, Connecticut, began disappearing. Id. at ¶ 13. Mr. Miller suspected his sister, who had “displayed bizarre behavior from the moment she returned” and had been asking the family for money. Id. at ¶¶ 9, 10, 11.

         When Mr. Miller confronted Ms. Miller about the missing items, Ms. Miller allegedly began making false accusations against Mr. Miller. Id. at ¶ 14. Specifically, the Complaint asserts that Ms. Miller called state social services in November 2015 and accused Mr. Miller of neglecting and abusing their mother. Id. at ¶ 15. In addition, Ms. Miller made ten false allegations about Mr. Miller to the Wilton Police Department between 2015 and May 2017, including allegations of assault, attempted strangulation, attempted homicide, and theft. Id. at ¶ 20. In May 2016, the Wilton Police Department informed Mr. Miller that his sister had accused him of harassment and of stealing jewelry and silverware from his mother. Id. at ¶ 17. According to Mr. Miller, the police officer warned him that he would be arrested if he returned to the Wilton home. Id. At the time, Mr. Miller lived in Louisiana. Id.

         On November 9, 2016, Mr. Miller's mother died. Id. at ¶ 28. Since February 17, 2017, Mr. Miller and Ms. Miller have been involved in ongoing litigation over their mother's will and the division of her estate. Affidavit of Jeffrey Miller (“Mr. Miller's Aff.”) (Doc. No. 2) at ¶ 2. In connection with that litigation, Mr. Miller seeks to enter the family home in Wilton to take inventory. Id. at ¶ 3. Ms. Miller has allegedly attempted to delay Mr. Miller's visit by telling the Estate Trustee and Estate Attorney that she “fears for her life” and that Mr. Miller tried to kill her twice. Id. at ¶ 4.

         Mr. Miller filed a Complaint against Ms. Miller in this court on June 22, 2018. See generally Compl. In the Complaint, he brings claims for defamation, infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution, and wrongful death. Id. at ¶¶ 32-57. On the same day, Mr. Miller filed this Motion for Preliminary Injunction, which seeks to preliminarily enjoin Ms. Miller from making false allegations about Mr. Miller. See generally Pl.'s Mot.


         The standard for preliminary injunctive relief is well established in this Circuit. “Generally, a party seeking a preliminary injunction must establish ‘(1) irreparable harm and (2) either (a) a likelihood of success on the merits, or (b) sufficiently serious questions going to the merits of its claims to make them fair ground for litigation, plus a balance of the hardships tipping decidedly in favor of the moving party.'” Oneida Nation of New York v. Cuomo, 645 F.3d 154, 164 (2d Cir. 2011) (quoting Monserrate v. N.Y. State Senate, 599 F.3d 148, 154 (2d Cir. 2010)). “Additionally, the moving party must show that a preliminary injunction is in the public interest.” Id. (citing Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 19-20 (2008)).

         “A showing of irreparable harm is ‘the single most important prerequisite for the issuance of a preliminary injunction.'” Faiveley Transp. Malmo AB v. Wabtec Corp., 559 F.3d 110, 118 (2d Cir. 2009) (quoting Rodriguez v. DeBuono, 175 F.3d 227, 234 (2d Cir.1999)). “To satisfy the irreparable harm requirement, Plaintiffs must demonstrate that absent a preliminary injunction they will suffer an injury that is neither remote nor speculative, but actual and imminent, and one that cannot be remedied if a court waits until the end of trial to resolve the harm.” Grand River Enter. Six Nations, Ltd. v. Pryor, 481 F.3d 60, 66 (2d Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted). “Where there is an adequate remedy at law, such as an award of money damages, injunctions are unavailable except in extraordinary circumstances.” Faiveley, 559 F.3d at 118 (quoting Moore v. Consol. Edison Co. of N.Y., 409 F.3d 506, 510 (2d Cir.2005)).


         The court decides this Motion for a Preliminary Injunction without conducting an evidentiary hearing. Mr. Miller has not requested such a hearing. Furthermore, “there is no hard and fast rule in this circuit that oral testimony must be taken on a motion for a preliminary injunction or that the court can in no circumstances dispose of the motion on the papers before it.” Riddick v. Maurer, No. 17-1685, 2018 WL 1750582, at *3 (2d Cir. Apr. 12, 2018) (quoting Md. Cas. Co. v. Realty Advisory Bd. on Labor Relations, 107 F.3d 979, 984 (2d Cir. 1997)) (internal alterations omitted). Instead, a district court may issue a preliminary injunction without holding a hearing “when the relevant facts either are not in dispute or have been clearly demonstrated at prior stages of the case or when the disputed facts are amenable to complete resolution on a paper ...

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