FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND
DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED
from the Circuit Court for Orange County, Alicia L. Latimore,
Brandon F. Dark, of Law Office of Brandon F. Dark, P.A.,
Orlando, for Appellant.
Appearance for Appellee.
Michael Schultz, challenges the two-year injunction for
protection against dating violence entered against him and in
favor of Appellee, Samantha Moore, his former girlfriend. Because the evidence
is legally insufficient to support a finding that Appellee
had an objectively reasonable fear that she was in imminent
danger of becoming the victim of future dating violence, we
2018, Appellee filed a petition for protection against dating
violence against Appellant, pursuant to section
784.046(2)(b), Florida Statutes (2018). The petition
described three prior incidents of dating violence and
alleged Appellee had reasonable cause to believe she was in
imminent danger of becoming a victim of another act of dating
violence. The petition also noted that Appellant knew the
location of her house and job and owned multiple firearms.
The circuit court entered a temporary injunction and set a
permanent injunction hearing.
hearing, Appellee discussed the three incidents of dating
violence listed in her petition. She testified she and
Appellant ended their relationship following the last
incident, which occurred on July 11, 2018, about two weeks
before the permanent injunction hearing. She further
testified that since ending their relationship, she had
received communications from Appellant via email and through
his roommate. Viewing the evidence most favorably to
Appellee, none of those communications threatened physical
injury or violence. When questioned by the court whether she
was afraid of Appellant, Appellee responded with an
unelaborated, "Yes." Following Appellant's
testimony, both parties agreed there was no reason to have
any contact with each other.
784.046(2)(b) creates a cause of action for an injunction for
protection in cases of "dating violence, " as
defined at section 784.046(1)(d). Unlike injunctions for
protection against repeat violence and sexual violence under
section 784.046(2)(a), (c) and injunctions for protection
against stalking under section 784.0485, dating violence
injunctions must be predicated on the reasonable prospect of
a future violent act. Specifically, section 784.046(2)(b)
creates a cause of action for an injunction for protection
against dating violence only when a petitioner has
"reasonable cause to believe he or she is in
imminent danger of becoming the victim of . . . an act [or
another act] of dating violence." §
784.046(2)(b), Fla. Stat. (2018) (emphasis added).
Appellant challenges the legal sufficiency of the evidence
supporting that necessary element of a dating violence
injunction: that Appellee had an objectively reasonable fear
of imminent danger of another act of dating violence. While
the circuit court has broad discretion in entering an
injunction for protection against dating violence based on
the statute, each element of the injunction must be supported
by competent, substantial evidence. Nuila v. Stolp,
188 So.3d 105, 106 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016). Whether the evidence
is legally sufficient to support issuance of the injunction
is a legal question subject to de novo review. Sumners v.
Thompson, 271 So.3d 1232, 1233 (Fla. 1st DCA 2019).
agree with Appellant that the evidence adduced at the hearing
was legally insufficient to support a determination that
Appellee had a reasonable fear of imminent danger of another
act of dating violence. The emails and messages admitted at
the hearing were insufficient to support issuance of the
injunction. See, e.g., id. at 1234.
Furthermore, there was no testimony or other evidence that
Appellant threatened Appellee with physical injury or
violence after the July 11, 2018 incident. See Alderman
v. Thomas, 141 So.3d 668, 670-71 (Fla. 2d DCA 2014)
(reversing injunction where petitioner's testimony that
she "[felt] 'insecure and unsafe with'
[respondent] and that he scare[d] her" was
"conclusory and vague"). Consequently, based on the
specific facts of this case and the requirements of section
784.046(2)(b), we reverse. Because we reverse on this issue,
we decline to address Appellant's due process argument.
ORFINGER and ...