What is a Preliminary Injunction?
A preliminary injunction restrains a party from taking certain actions during the pendency of the case, before a trial can be held (usually much later). Thus, Courts evaluate requests for preliminary injunctions with great caution, as they are essentially making a ruling that will substantially affect the legal rights of a party to do or not do something, without the party having the opportunity to investigate and obtain all of their evidence to support its position, which would ordinarily be presented at trial.
The Court is making a determination based on limited evidence and its evaluation of the likelihood that the applicant will eventually prevail and the likely harm both sides will suffer if the injunction is denied or granted. Additionally, the Court has a duty not to deny the constitutional due process rights of the party opposing the injunction.
The Court considers such things as the inadequacy of other remedies (like simply paying money damages), the degree of irreparable harm, and the necessity of preserving the status quo. A key issue in most hearings on preliminary injunctions is that it is to be issued to “preserve the status quo” (keep everything the same) pending a decision on the merits.
For the same reasons, Temporary Restraining Orders “TRO’s” (essentially emergency 5-10 day injunctions, made on very short notice) are very rarely granted, even where reasonably good cause exists. Generally, except where a TRO application involves imminent physical harm to a person, TROs are routinely denied, but with the Court setting a hearing where the party opposing is ordered to “show cause” why a preliminary injunction should not be entered.
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