People file lawsuits for many reasons. In some cases, they seek redress for damages that occurred in the past, but in others, plaintiffs want remedies for actions that are either planned or ongoing. In those cases, their attorneys will frequently seek an injunction from the court. An injunction is a court order that stops or prevents a party from committing some legal wrong or requires a party to perform a specific act. Each situation is different and there are a variety of contexts where injunctions are sought – employment and business disputes, patent litigation, copyrights enforcement. But in all cases, injunctions require a specific showing of “irreparable harm” that will occur if the injunction is not awarded.
There are three types of injunctions:
- Temporary restraining orders
- Preliminary Injunctions
- Permanent injunctions
When a judge makes a decision about whether to grant an injunction, they consider the possible harms that could result if the injunction is not granted. When an injunction is issued by the court and the individual or entity it is addressed to does not comply, they are vulnerable to being held in contempt by the court.
A temporary restraining order is an extremely short-term action. It can be issued without informing the other party and usually lasts no longer than ten days, which is usually just long enough to allow both sides to appear in court for a formal ruling. They are generally granted in order to prevent serious harm to the party seeking the injunction before the court conducts a more formal hearing.
Preliminary injunctions last longer than temporary restraining orders and are sought and issued usually in the beginning of the case, lasting until the case has been finally determined. The plaintiff requests this injunction to prevent suffering “irreparable harm” between the time that their original suit is filed and the time that a final decision is made by the court. Judges make decisions based on whether they agree about the potential for harm as well as their perception of the probable outcome of the trial. Examples can include requests to stop a fiduciary from pursuing actions that might be harmful to a corporation or stopping the use of a brand or trademark.
Permanent injunctions are issued after a trial on the merits is conducted. The plaintiff must show that they have suffered an irreparable injury (i.e., that payment of monetary damages is not sufficient to compensate for the injury); that the injunction is warranted; and that it would not hurt the public interest.
If you are suffering or anticipating harm requiring legal action and you need immediate action to make it stop while pursuing justice, seeking an injunction may be your best first step. For information on how our Philadelphia law firm can help, contact us today to discuss your situation.