Judge denies Bad Rooster injunction against sisters

A Hennepin County judge has denied a motion from the Bad Rooster for a temporary injunction against two sisters who claim funds from the Minnetonka-based food truck are used to "support a cult" that holds sway over their mother.

In Friday’s court order, Judge Joseph R. Klein said a temporary injunction would amount to prior restraint against free speech.

On July 22, Bad Rooster and its owners filed a defamation and civil conspiracy lawsuit against two sisters – Kelly Abedi and Angela Hummelgard – who claimed on social media that Bad Rooster’s owner, Soulaire Allerai, operates an alleged cult

On July 6, Abedi wrote on Bad Rooster’s Facebook page, "I think it’s important for all the supporters on here to know that Bad Rooster, and it’s (sic) owner ‘Soulaire’ aka Lyn Young used funds they earn to support a cult."

Her sister, Hummelgard, added, "Would you continue patronizing a business that you learned was abusing people? I wouldn’t and that’s why bringing this to the public is always worthwhile."

The post had 200 reactions, 260 comments, and 250 shares.

The sisters and a half-dozen other family members and former followers of Allerai shared similar stories with the FOX 9 Investigators.

Bad Rooster claims the publicity harmed their food truck, which they said can earn about $10,000 a day, and sought a temporary injunction that would prohibit the sisters from making further comments and require them to delete the Facebook post.

But in Judge Klein’s ruling, he argued that such an injunction could have a chilling effect and that it was unclear if the plaintiffs would even succeed on the merits of their case.

Judge Klein applied what’s known in legal circles as the Dahlberg factors in determining whether to issue a temporary injunction. Those considerations include the harm suffered if an injunction is denied or approved, the likelihood of success on the merits of the case, and the public interest.

"If injunctive relief is granted, the harm to Defendants, in the form of restrictions on what they may publicly discuss and with whom, would be a prior restraint on their speech," Judge Klein wrote.

"Plaintiffs have not shown at this point that the matters discussed by Defendants were of no concern to the community, and the fact that the story has garnered media attention suggests that Plaintiffs may not be able to do so," Judge Klein continued.

Judge Klein also drew a distinction between speech that concerns private matters and those that are of public concern.

"Statements that a particular religious group is a cult, that a business abuses its employees, or that a person has ‘torn families apart’ appear, on their face, to be opinions and value judgements," Judge Klein wrote.

In denying the temporary injunction, Judge Klein wrote, "It is unclear at this point in the litigation whether Plaintiffs will be able to succeed on the merits of their action."

A Previous effort at mediation in the case was fruitless.  A jury trial on the defamation and civil conspiracy case against the sisters is currently scheduled for August 14, 2023.