Baldinger v. Ferri, 052312 FED3, 11-2701

Docket Nº:11-2701
Opinion Judge:VANASKIE, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:BRUCE E. BALDINGER, Appellant v. ANTONIO FERRI; MATTEO PATISSO; NATIONAL FRAUD CONSTABLE, agent of THE NATIONAL FRAUD CONSTABLE
Judge Panel:Before: VANASKIE, BARRY, and CUDAHY, Circuit Judges
Case Date:May 23, 2012
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

BRUCE E. BALDINGER, Appellant

v.

ANTONIO FERRI; MATTEO PATISSO; NATIONAL FRAUD CONSTABLE, agent of THE NATIONAL FRAUD CONSTABLE

No. 11-2701

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

May 23, 2012

NOT PRECEDENTIAL

Submitted Under Third Circuit LAR 34.1 April 20, 2012

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (D.C. No. 3-10-cv-03122) District Judge: Peter G. Sheridan

Before: VANASKIE, BARRY, and CUDAHY, [*] Circuit Judges

OPINION

VANASKIE, Circuit Judge.

Bruce Baldinger appeals the District Court's order dissolving a preliminary injunction that it previously entered against Mateo Patisso, contending that the District Court failed to make adequate findings of fact and conclusions of law in support of its order and that the District Court abused its discretion in dissolving the preliminary injunction sua sponte. We agree that the District Court made inadequate findings of fact and conclusions of law. Accordingly, we will vacate the District Court's order dissolving the preliminary injunction and remand this matter for further proceedings.

I.

As we write primarily for the parties, who are familiar with the facts and procedural history of this case, we set forth only those facts necessary to our analysis. On June 18, 2010, Bruce Baldinger, an attorney, sued Antonio Ferri, Mateo Patisso, and various other defendants for defamation per se, invasion of privacy, injurious falsehood, defamation, trade libel, tortious interference with business and economic advantage, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The complaint alleges that Ferri filed a suit in the Eastern District of New York, and that Baldinger entered an appearance on behalf of the defendants in that suit. Ferri and his agent, Patisso, allegedly responded to Baldinger's representation of the defendants by publicly disseminating false and private information about Baldinger. The alleged false statements included representations that Baldinger committed various unethical and criminal activity, and that he was "likely to be disbarred." (A. 17.)

On September 9, 2010, the District Court entered a default judgment against Patisso, which, in relevant part, "permanently enjoined [him] from writing, printing, sending, publishing, e-mailing, posting, corresponding, or otherwise disseminating any derogatory information regarding [Baldinger] or [Baldinger's] law firm regarding any of their personal or business finances, or alleged unethical or criminal activity." (A. 76-77.) The order also required Patisso "to remove any writing, printing, e-mail, posting, correspondence, or any other derogatory information regarding [Baldinger] or [Baldinger's] law firm regarding any of their personal or business finances, or alleged unethical or criminal activity." (A. 77.)

On February 8, 2011, Patisso moved to vacate the default judgment, which the District Court granted on February 28, 2011.1 In vacating the default judgment, however, the District Court entered a preliminary injunction against Patisso identical in content to the prior permanent injunction.2

On April 12, 2011, Baldinger moved for the District Court to hold Patisso in contempt for sending an allegedly derogatory e-mail to Baldinger's office and to an out-of-state attorney. The District Court held a hearing, in part, on Baldinger's contempt motion on April 28, 2011, in which it indicated that it regarded Baldinger's action primarily as a defamation suit, and expressed concern that entering a preliminary injunction against Patisso was inappropriate in such an action. The District Court did not, however, dissolve the injunction at that time, instead stating that it would reconsider the preliminary injunction upon request and that it would conduct a hearing on the injunction before reaching a decision. On April 29, 2011, the District Court denied Baldinger's April 12, 2011 motion to hold Patisso in contempt.

On May 26, 2011, Baldinger filed an application for the entry of an order to show cause for criminal contempt against Patisso, asserting that Patisso violated the preliminary injunction by allegedly sending a derogatory document to one of his clients. On June 6, 2011, the District Court responded to Baldinger's application by dissolving the preliminary injunction sua sponte.

The June 6, 2011 order provides that "since [the time the District Court issued the preliminary injunction] . . . new facts and circumstances have arisen and reconsideration of the prior decision is appropriate." (A. 3.) The order further explains that "since entry of the February Order, the Court has held multiple hearings and conferences with the parties and has been apprised of many underlying issues and facts in the case; and the Court finds [Baldinger] can no longer meet the rigorous standard to obtain . . . injunctive relief." (A. 4.) Baldinger appealed, requesting that we vacate the District Court's June 6, 2011 order dissolving the preliminary injunction.

II.

The District Court had...

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