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Symetra Life Insurance Company v. Emerson

United States District Court, D. Maine

December 4, 2018

SYMETRA LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
GUY RAYMOND EMERSON, Defendant.

          ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S EMERGENCY EX PARTE MOTION FOR A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER

          .JON D. LEVY, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the court on Symetra Life Insurance Company's ("Symetra") emergency ex parte motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) (ECF No. 4). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(b)(1).

         In considering a request for a temporary restraining order, the court must determine: "(1) the movant's likelihood of success on the merits; (2) whether and to what extent the movant would suffer irreparable harm if the request were rejected; (3) the balance of hardships between the parties; and (4) any effect that the injunction or its denial would have on the public interest." Diaz-Carrasquillo v. Garcia-Padilla, 750 F.3d 7, 10 (1st Cir. 2014) (citing Corporate Techs., Inc. v. Harnett, 731 F.3d 6, 9 (1st Cir. 2013)).

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         At this point, the Court has only the materials submitted by Symetra, from which I glean the following facts: Symetra Financial Corporation is a diversified financial services company with more than 1, 600 employees nationwide. Symetra is a wholly owned subsidiary of Symetra Financial Corporation. Symetra has been in the insurance industry for over 50 years, and during that time has developed its goodwill and reputation within the industry. Symetra owns U.S. Federal registration serial number 3127698 for the SYMETRA mark, ECF No. 1 ¶ 7, and has also made extensive use of the mark SYMETRA LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY to designate services that it provides, id. ¶ 8. Symetra also maintains a website, https://www.symetra.com, where it advertises its services and provides biographical information about the leadership team of Symetra. Id. ¶ 9. The website also contains images of members of the leadership team.

         Guy Raymond Emerson ("Emerson") is and has been a disability claimant under his former employer's Life and Disability Plan with Symetra. As a plan participant, Emerson submitted a claim for long term disability to Symetra, which has been administering his claim, apparently to Emerson's dissatisfaction. Without the knowledge or authorization of Symetra, Emerson registered the domain name "symetralifeinsurancecompany.com" for his own use. Emerson then launched a website ("the Website") hosted at that domain, where he has published personally identifying information about numerous officers, directors, and employees of Symetra and that of their family members, some of whom are minors.

         The personally identifying information on the Website includes the full names multiple Symetra employees, their home addresses, and the names of their spouses, children, and other relatives. The Website also encourages members of the public to contact the named Symetra employees:

If a Symetra Claims Representative is delaying, denying, engaging in bad faith tactics, or committing outright fraud to avoid paying your valid insurance claim, call them, e-mail them, or pay them a visit at home. If you don't have their home address, home phone number, or e-mail address, contact me and I will find them for you.

Id. ¶ 36. The Website also singles out one particular employee and her children:

If [Symetra Employee] is delaying, or denying your valid insurance claim feel free to stop by her home to discuss your claim with her. If [Symetra Employee] is not home when you arrive, I'm sure that her daughter [First Child], or her daughter [Second Child], would be more than willing to keep you company until she arrives home.

Id. ¶ 37.

         The Website is structured and designed in a way that makes it appear as though the Website is affiliated with Symetra; for example, it includes a copyright notice identifying Symetra as the owner. The Website also includes allegedly false statements about Symetra. For example, the Website includes the following quotation, which is attributed to Symetra's Chief Executive Officer: "Well of course we engage in bad faith tactics like delaying and denying our policy holders [sic] valid claims. How do you think me [sic], my key executive officers, and my board members stay so damn rich, [sic]" Id. ¶ 29.

         II. LEGAL ANALYSIS

         A. Likelihood of ...


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