Court Reprimands Attorney for “Not Liking” Class Action Settlement on his Facebook Page

Michigan attorney Majed Moughni was ordered to remove all references to a class action settlement with McDonald’s from his Facebook page. Moughni is not an attorney of record in the case; however, he is a part of the class involved in the suit and he does have a Facebook page that serves as somewhat of a news source for the Dearborn, Michigan community, with his page receiving more than 20,000 views per week. The $700,000 settlement that Moughni was criticizing arose from a case brought by a class of effected citizens, including Dearborn Heights resident Ahmed Ahmed against McDonald’s. The plaintiffs in the case claimed that McDonald’s was selling non-halal McChicken sandwiches and McNuggets thought to be halal. The settlement agreement would give $425,000 to a local health clinic and museum that are completely unrelated to the litigation. Moughni posted comments on his Facebook page that criticized this “backroom deal” and asked people to comment on or “Like” the post if they agreed.

Judge MacDonald, the judge overseeing the settlement, ordered the posts be removed and further that the attorney replace the posts with copies of the settlement, forward the contact information of anyone who commented on or “Liked” one of the relevant posts, and refrain from communicating with members of the class and the media. According to Judge Macdonald, the attorney’s statements were “materially false, deceptive, and misleading, and the attorney’s conduct was “deliberative and abusive.” Public Citizen filed a motion last Friday contesting the injunction. Lawyers at Public Citizen claim that the injunction is an impermissible restraint on Moughni’s First Amendment rights.

The order has sparked a debate over whether the judge went too far and violated the attorney’s First Amendment rights. Did the judge have a legitimate reason to not only restrict what an attorney says on Facebook, but also order specific content added to the attorney’s Facebook profile? Was this the least restrictive means of achieving the judge’s desired result?

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