The Seventh Circuit vacates another injunction against speech

Alliance for Water Efficiency v. Fryer, No. 15-1206 (7th Cir. Dec. 22, 2015).

This, curiously, is the second case out of the Seventh Circuit in less than a week featuring an injunction against speech. 

A nonprofit, the Alliance for Water Efficiency, engaged a contractor, James Fryer, to perform a study on water demand during droughts. The Alliance wasn’t happy with Fryer’s draft report and sued. The suit was settled, with the magistrate judge stating the material terms on the record in open court. Those terms, essentially, were that Fryer could publish his report but had to remove the Alliance’s name from it. But the parties couldn’t agree on a written agreement. On the Alliance’s motion, the judge then entered an injunction against Fryer, specifying what he could and couldn’t say.

Sidestepping the constitutional question, the Seventh Circuit holds that the injunction must be vacated because it went beyond the terms on which the parties had agreed. As a result, the parties get a damages remedy for—but not an injunction against—any breaches of the settlement agreement.