What is a “Temporary Injunction”?

Adam Keilen Litigation

Generally, an injunction is a court order requiring a person to do something or stop doing something. A “temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction” is a “temporary injunction”, as opposed to a permanent injunction, meaning, a temporary order from the Judge to do something or stop doing something until there is a final hearing-trial.

Injunctions are common in cases involving breach of contract. Often times, injunctions come up when monetary damages are difficult to ascertain or when monetary damages are not a suitable remedy. Some common injunctions for breach of contract cases are:

  1. Prohibiting someone from violating a non-compete;
  2. Ordering the return of goods;
  3. Preventing parties from selling goods they have already promised;
  4. Requiring performance of contract terms that were violated; and
  5. Enforcing a sale at a certain price.

Under Michigan law, the purpose of a preliminary injunction is to preserve the “status quo” so that the rights of the parties may be determined on final hearing without injury to either. Gates v. Detroit & M Ry Co, 151 Mich 548, 551; 115 NW 420 (1908). In other words, the purpose of a “temporary injunction” is to leave things as they are until there is a final hearing-trial. In order to obtain a “temporary injunction”, the party seeking the injunction will ask the Court to consider:

  • The likelihood that the party seeking the injunction will prevail on the merits;
  • The danger that the party seeking the injunction will suffer immediate and irreparable injury if the injunction is not issued;
  • The risk that the party seeking the injunction would be harmed more by the absence of an injunction than the opposing party would be by the granting of the injunction; and
  • The harm to the public interest, if the injunction is issued.

In other words, to get a “temporary injunction” you should (1.) show a likelihood of success in your lawsuit, (2.) show immediate and irreparable harm (for example, lost relationships and goodwill in your business or industry), (3.) demonstrate that the burden on the other party is limited, or less than yours if it isn’t granted, and (4.) show how the public will be affected or harmed if the “temporary injunction” is not granted. The Court (the Judge) will weigh the four factors and make a decision.

The take away. Generally, to ask the Court for a “temporary injunction” you need to have a strong case, proof that there is some immediate-irreparable harm, weigh the parties’ burden, address the public interest, and show that there is no adequate remedy at law (monetary losses) for your damages. Asking for a preliminary injunction is an extreme request, thereby asking the Court to act immediately to correct immediate-irreparable harm when monetary damages are not enough, or when monetary damages alone are inadequate.

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