JOSEPH C. DOUGLAS, Appellant,
KATHRYN ANN DOUGLAS, Appellee.
FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
from the Circuit Court for Pinellas County; Jack Helinger,
S. Paikoff and O. George Bamis of MacFarlane, Ferguson &
McMullen, Clearwater, for Appellant.
Andrew Crawford of J. Andrew Crawford, P.A., St. Petersburg,
C. Douglas, the Husband, seeks review of a final judgment of
injunction for protection against domestic violence in favor
of Kathryn Ann Douglas, the Wife. We reverse because the
final judgment is not supported by competent, substantial
evidence that the Wife had an objectively reasonable fear of
imminent domestic violence.
741.30(6)(a), Florida Statutes (2016), provides for the
issuance of an injunction "when it appears to the court
that the petitioner is either the victim of domestic violence
as defined by s. 741.28 or has reasonable cause to believe he
or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic
violence." "Although an act of domestic violence
need not be completed before one may seek injunctive relief,
if fear alone is the 'reasonable cause' alleged to
support the injunction, then not only must the danger feared
be imminent but the rationale for the fear must be
objectively reasonable as well." Oettmeier v.
Oettmeier, 960 So.2d 902, 904 (Fla. 2d DCA 2007). This
court reviews a finding of an objectively reasonable fear of
imminent domestic violence for competent, substantial
evidence. Id. at 905.
violence is defined as "any assault, aggravated assault,
battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery,
stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false
imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical
injury or death of one family or household member by another
family or household member." § 741.28(2). This
definition requires a threat or showing of violence, and
general harassment is insufficient. Young v. Smith,
901 So.2d 372, 373 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005). "An injunction
against domestic violence requires malicious harassment that
consists at the very least of some threat of imminent
violence, which excludes mere uncivil behavior that causes
distress or annoyance." Arnold v. Santana, 122
So.3d 512, 514 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013) (quoting Young v.
Young, 96 So.3d 478, 479 (Fla. 1st DCA 2012)).
the Wife filed the petition for injunction in March 2017, the
parties were in the midst of divorce proceedings. They had
been residing together in the marital home with their three
minor children until just a few days before the petition for
injunction was filed. The Wife testified that the Husband had
a history of alcohol abuse and losing his temper. She claimed
that the Husband had injured her in 1998 and 2011 by grabbing
her arms hard enough to cause bruising. And the parties
offered differing versions of four incidents in the week
before the petition was filed.
trial court refused to grant the injunction based on the 1998
and 2011 incidents because they were too remote in time.
However, the court granted the injunction based on its
conclusion that this history coupled with the Wife's
version of the four incidents in March 2017 established an
objectively reasonable fear of imminent domestic violence. We
cannot second-guess the court's finding that the
Wife's evidence was more credible than the Husband's,
so we set forth the evidence as presented by the Wife.
See Jeffries v. Jeffries, 133 So.3d 1243, 1244 (Fla.
1st DCA 2014).
first incident occurred on March 13, 2017. The Wife informed
the Husband that she would be working late at her clothing
boutique due to a private event. The Husband texted her at
9:30 p.m. and asked where she was. She replied that she was
still at the boutique. The Husband drove his truck to the
boutique and arrived at around 10:30 p.m. As the Husband
pulled into the parking lot, the Wife and her clients were
exiting the building. The Husband parked but did not turn off
or get out of the vehicle. After a few minutes, the Husband
revved his engine and peeled out of the parking lot. The Wife
assumed he was mad at her because he did not greet her or her
clients. His actions made one of the women uncomfortable.
thereafter, the Wife returned to the marital home that the
pair were still sharing. She went to the master bedroom to
retrieve some clothing, but the Husband was inside with the
door locked. He refused to open the door until the Wife
knocked loudly enough to wake the children. The Wife asked
the Husband if he was upset with her, but he did not want to
talk to her. The Wife spent the night in the guest room.
second incident occurred three days later on March 16, 2017.
The Wife went to a late lunch with a friend, and as the two
were leaving the restaurant they ran into the Husband. The
Wife asked the Husband what he was doing there, and he said
he was going to get his glasses fixed at a store in the same
plaza. The third incident occurred on the following day when
the Husband showed up at the same bar as the Wife to
celebrate St. Patrick's Day. There was no contact between
fourth incident occurred two days later on March 19, 2017, at
the marital home. When the Wife walked into the kitchen that
morning, the Husband confronted her about not attending their
child's basketball game. The Husband called her
"mother of the year" and a narcissist. He came
within two feet of her and pointed his finger at her face.
When the Wife went upstairs, the Husband followed her into
the master bathroom. The Husband demanded that she open the
safe and show him her wedding ring. When she said there was