One of the more powerful tools in a civil suit is the injunction, but it’s not without risk. Moving forward with an injunction without the right evidence can backfire and tank your case. Used effectively, an injunction can provide you immediate relief until a final decision is rendered by the judge. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at injunctions and temporary restraining orders, and how we can use them during your civil suit to help win your case.
What Is An Injunction?
At the most basic level, an injunction is a court order during a civil suit that prevents the defendant from doing something or requires them to take a specific action. The former is much more common than the latter, but they can both be used depending on the specifics of your case. Injunctions in Illinois come in three different forms. There are:
- Temporary Restraining Orders
- Preliminary Injunctions
- Permanent Injunctions
Temporary restraining orders (TRO) are the most common form of injunction because of how immediate they can be instituted. They are often instituted in order to maintain the current status of a relationship until more legal steps can be taken. We find that this makes more sense if we use an example or two.
Let’s say you own the patent to some music, and you find out that someone else is selling that music or using it without permission in order to make a profit. You can file for a TRO, which immediately requires the defendant to stop using your music for profit until an agreement can be reached. Sometimes you can come to a compensatory agreement behind the scenes, or if the other side doesn’t want to work with you, it’s often pretty easy to prove that you own the copyright to that music. The TRO could then be transitioned to a permanent injunction, meaning that the defendant could be held in contempt of a court order if they do not comply with the demand to stop using your music.
Another situation where a TRO may be ordered is when a partner leaves a business and starts their own company. A financial advisor or family practitioner may want to keep some of their clients they’ve acquired over the years, and they may try to get them to leave the old company and become clients at their new solo practice. If the partner or physician signed a non-compete agreement, the old business may file a TRO to stop the former partner from continuing to take clients. As the dust settles, the two sides can work towards an agreement, or they can prepare for the next legal steps in court.
TRO vs. Preliminary Injunction
A temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction are essentially the same thing, but in general, a TRO is easier to achieve and lasts for a shorter period of time. It can provide immediate short term relief, whereas a preliminary injunction can be harder to earn because it can be in effect for longer, and thus a judge may be less likely to issue the injunction while the case is pending. In order to win an injunction in Illinois, the plaintiff must prove four specific things:
- The plaintiff must be likely to succeed on the merits of the action (essentially, does your claim have a basis in truth).
- The plaintiff must be likely to suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not rendered (loss of income, property, etc.).
- The damage to the plaintiff if the injunction is not ordered must outweigh the damage to the defendant if the injunction is ordered (loss of revenue from a rightful owner of property would exceed the loss of revenue from a non-rightful owner).
- The injunction would serve the public interest (the music example serves the public interest by promoting the idea that a property owner should have exclusive rights to their intellectual property).
Injunctions can seem complicated, but we’ve filed for and received many TRO, preliminary and permanent injunctions for our clients at the outset of their civil suit. Let us get you immediate relief and then work behind the scenes to provide an equitable outcome for the harm that has been caused. For more information, or for help with your civil suit, reach out to Brett Appelman and the team at Appelman & Lloyd today.