I wrote about Hyman v. Daoud, a case that sought the takedown of various online items—including mainstream media articles—in November 2020. I then wrote in 2021 about an attempt to get Google to deindex my article (among others), aimed at causing it to disappear from search results. And four days ago Google got the following takedown request from someone, seeking to deindex my 2020 and 2021 articles, plus various other media articles:
The order I wrote about was attached to the request. Though the request claims the court order is confidential, that’s not true: I just confirmed that the order is available on the Miami-Dade County court records site (search for local case number 2012-044972-CA-01 and go to docket number 38). Based on my research on how Google deals with such matters, I very much doubt that Google will actually deindex my articles based on this request.
I e-mailed Ms. Hyman to ask her for some more explanation for what was thought to be defamatory or confidential here. I can’t be sure that she was the one who submitted this request, directly or through an agent, but she would seem to be the likely beneficiary; and in 2020 she had e-mailed me to ask me to remove my post, though I said no to that request. I have not heard back from her, but if I do, I will post an update.
Here’s the original post:
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Alex Daoud had been mayor of Miami Beach from 1985 to 1991, but was then convicted of bribery and various other charges. Some years later, he arranged a real estate deal together with his daughter, Kelly Hyman (a lawyer and occasional political commentator)—but that went bad, and led her to sue him. The case dragged on for years, and unsurprisingly got a good deal of media coverage, such as in the Miami Herald, on the local CBS affiliate, and in the Real Deal (South Florida Real Estate News).
Hyman also alleged that Daoud or people working with him had posted various derogatory things about Hyman and her family (which includes her husband Paul Hyman, a retired federal bankruptcy judge), at sites named “atrociousattorney.com,” “avariciousadulteress.com,” “despicabledaughter.com,” and the like. As a result, the parties entered into an Agreed Order to Take Down Internet Posting Related to Kelly Hyman, Paul G. Hyman, Jr., [and other family members], in which Daoud was ordered to remove such posts.
So far, that’s fine; parties are generally entitled to enter into such agreements. But here’s the twist: After imposing the obligations on Daoud (who was a party to the agreement), the order went on to purport to bind third parties, who weren’t parties (and to my knowledge weren’t even notified that their rights were being adjudicated):
And Google has indeed been asked, on the strength of this order, to deindex not just items that may have been posted by Daoud, but also mainstream media articles (see here and here):
And Google was also asked to deindex two items that criticize Judge Paul Hyman, which do not appear to be linked to Daoud, and which in any case consist of copies of documents filed in other matters:
This appears to be the court’s fully approving an order proposed by Ms. Hyman’s lawyers.
I expect that Google will see through this, and will realize that it’s not actually bound by the order (despite what the order says), because it had never been made a party to the case (and wasn’t acting in concert with a party). And I expect that Google will also conclude that it shouldn’t deindex the mainstream media pages (and the criticisms of Judge Hyman) even voluntarily, because there’s no basis for thinking that there’s anything false and defamatory there.
Still, I think the court erred in approving the overbroad agreed order, which on its face purports to bind entities that had never agreed to it. (I have e-mailed Kelly Hyman and her lawyers to get their side of the story, but haven’t heard back from them.) [UPDATE: See here for an odd response I got from one of the lawyers after I put up this post.]