Legal Remedies


Injunction - Basic Definition

Injunctions are orders of the court telling a party to a lawsuit to do or not to do a certain thing. Calif.Code.Civ.Proc. § 525.

Injunctive relief should be no more burdensome to the defendants than necessary to provide complete relief to the plaintiffs. Madsen v. Women's Health Ctr., Inc. 512 U.S. 753, 114 S.Ct. 2516, 129 L.Ed. 593 (1994).

Injunctions are classified as:

1) mandatory-prohibitory;

2) preventative-repairative-structural, and;

3) permanent-temporary. 

Injunctions may be permanent, which means they have been granted after a full-blown trial on the merits. Temporary restraining orders (TROs) are granted after a brief hearing where evidence may be presented by affidavit. TROs may be granted without a hearing or notice provided there is some exigent circumstance or necessity. Prohibitive injunctions command a party to refrain from doing something. Mandatory injunctions command a party to affirmatively do something.

The Duty To Obey Court Orders: Collateral Challenges

Must a court order of questionable constitutionality be obeyed? An injunction which has been issued by a court of equity and properly served must be obeyed no matter how erroneous the court was in issuing it. Until that decision is reversed by an appellate court, the injunction must be respected and violation of the order may be punished as contempt. (U.S. v. United Mine Workers of America, 330 U.S. 258, 67 S.Ct. 677, 91 L.Ed. 884, (1947).) In Walker et al. v. City of Birmingham, 388 U.S. 307, 87 S.Ct. 182, 18 L.Ed.2d 1210 (1967), civil rights activists who planned to march on Good Friday and Easter were denied parade permits from the city. When they indicated their intention to march anyway, Birmingham obtained an injunction from a state court which ordered them to refrain from demonstrating. Marchers who defied the order, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., were arrested. The Court upheld the arrests since the marchers failed to use proper judicial procedures to test the injunction's validity. Even though, Justice Stewart admitted, the injunction seemed broad and vague, and the marchers may not have enjoyed due process when applying for the permit originally, simply disobeying the injunction was not permitted. The general rule is that an injunction that has been duly issued and served must be obeyed, no matter how erroneous it may be.

Provisional Relief - Temporary Restraining Orders - TRO's

The purpose of the preliminary injunction is to maintain the status quo between the litigants pending final determination of the case. United Mine Workers (1947) 330 U.S. 258 affirmed the power of a court of equity to issue an order to preserve the status quo in order to protect its ability to render judgment in a case over which it might have jurisdiction.

Showing Required to Obtain a TRO Under F.R.C.P. 65 

1) That unless the TRO issues, applicant will suffer irreparable harm;

2) The hardship applicant  will suffer outweighs any hardship the defendants will suffer'

3) Applicants are likely to succeed on the merits;

4) Issuance of the order will cause no substantial harm to the public and

5) Applicants have no adequate remedy at law. 

Since both a preliminary injunction or a TRO can be granted before a full hearing on the merits, F.R.C.P. 65(c) requires a bond in order to ensure that the plaintiff will be able to pay all or at least some of the damages that the defendant incurs from the preliminary injunction if it turns out to have been wrongfully issued. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that a party injured by the issuance of an injunction later determined to be erroneous has no action for damages in the absence of a bond. W.R. Grace & Co. v. Local Union 759, United Rubber Workers, 461 U.S. 757 (1983). State statutes may create express exceptions to the requirement that a bond be posted. See, e.g., Cal.Code.Civ.Proc. § 529(b).

In Washington Capitols Basketball Club, Inc. v. Barry, 304 F.Supp. 1193 (N.D.Cal., 1969) Rick Barry signed a contract to play basketball for the Oakland Oaks. The Oaks were acquired by the Washington Capitols. Barry then signed to play with the San Francisco Warriors. The Capitols sought a preliminary injunction to prevent Barry from playing basketball for any other team. The court ruled the Capitols were entitled to the injunction (provided they could prove irreparable injury) in order to maintain the status quo pending final determination of the case. The court defined "status quo" to mean the last, peaceable, uncontested status between the parties which preceded the present controversy and "irreparable injury" as injury which is certain and great and which cannot be compensated by the award of money damages.

Parties Bound by an Injunction

F.R.C.P 65 (d) provides that injunctions and restraining orders shall be "binding only upon the parties to the action, their officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and upon those persons in active concert or participation with them who receive actual notice of the order by personal service or otherwise." A TRO or preliminary injunction is binding only on those "who receive actual notice of the order by personal service or otherwise." Successors or assigns of persons bound by an injunction may also be bound in proper cases. Golden State Bottling Co., Inc. v. NLRB, 414 U.S. 168, 94 S.Ct. 414, 38 L.Ed.2d 388 (1973).

Decrees Affecting Third Parties

The remedial powers of courts do not extend to imposing injunctive relief against a party found not to have violated the substantive rights of another party. A party not subject to liability for violating the law may not be assessed a proportionate share of the costs of implementing a decree to assure nondiscriminatory practices on the part of another party which was properly enjoined. General Building Contractors Association, Inc. v. Pennsylvania, 458 U.S. 375, 102 S.Ct. 3141, 73 L.Ed.2d 835 (1982). (But see, Hills v. Gautreaux, 425 U.S. 284, 96 S.Ct. 1538, 47 L.Ed.2d 792 (1976) [court in desegregation case may extend injunctive belief beyond geographical bounds where original discrimination took place].)

Modification of Injunctions

A court may modify a final judgment where the court finds that "it is no longer equitable that the judgment should have prospective application." (F.R.C.P. 60(b).) Rufo v. Inmates Of Suffolk County Jail, 502 U.S. 367, 112 S.Ct. 748, 116 L.Ed.2d 867 (1992).

Statutory Injunctions

A statute may authorize injunctive relief even though such relief would not have been available at common law. The statutory authorization is a substitute for irreparable injury which is ordinarily an indispensable requirement to the entitlement of injunctive relief. Although a statute may authorize the issuance of injunctive relief, such statutes are not normally interpreted to deny courts the discretion to rely on remedies other than an immediate prohibitory injunction, even if the statutory threshold showing is made. Weinberger v. Romero-Barcelo, 456 U.S. 305, 102 S.Ct. 1798, 72 L.Ed. 91 (1982). However, the legislative body may by explicit language or provision foreclose the exercise of equitable discretion, so that injunctive relief is mandatory if the evidentiary burden is met. TVA v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153 (1978).

Injunctions Against Criminal Activity

Courts of equity will not ordinarily enjoin the commission of a crime. The statutes themselves are standing injunctions. But the mere fact that the act constituting a nuisance is also a crime does not hinder the use of the civil processes to procure its abatement. Cal.Civ.Code § 3369. It is a historic function of courts of equity to grant preventative as well as remedial relief. If a statute specifically permits the enjoining of a crime then courts of equity may do so without engaging in the foregoing analysis. (See, e.g., Calif.Fam.Code § 6320 and Calif.Code.Civ.Proc. § 527.8 [authorizing courts to enjoin domestic and workplace violence].)

Injunctions Against Litigation

The basic principle is that a court has a duty, as well as power, to protect its jurisdiction over a controversy in order to decree complete and final justice between the parties and may issue an injunction for that purpose restraining proceedings in other courts.  However, state courts may not enjoin federal court litigation, (Donovan v. City Of Dallas, 377 U.S. 408, 84 S.Ct. 1579, 12 L.Ed. 2d 409 (1964) and federal courts are barred from enjoining proceedings in state courts. (28 U.S.C. § 2283) Early in the history of our country a general rule was established that state and federal courts would not interfere with or try to restrain each other's proceedings. Nevertheless, there are statutory exceptions to the prohibition enacted by Congress: (1) "except as expressly authorized by Act of Congress"; (2) "where necessary in aid of its jurisdiction"; and (3) "to protect or effectuate its judgments." Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 91 S.Ct. 746, 27 L.Ed.2d 669 (1971).  Federal injunctions against state criminal statutes, either in their entirety or with respect to their separate and distinct prohibitions, are not to be granted as a matter of course, even if such statutes are unconstitutional. (Id.)

Child Custody Proceedings

When the parties to a divorce proceeding seek as ancillary relief a child custody determination, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) is applicable.   Under the UCCJA, once a court of this state learns of the pendency of another proceeding, the court shall stay is own proceeding and communicate with the court in which the other proceeding is pending to the end that the issue may be litigated in the more appropriate forum and that information be exchanged.

Extra Territorial Decrees

Although a court cannot convey title to land located outside its jurisdiction it can order a person over whom it has personal jurisdiction to convey the land. Fall v. Eastin, 215 U.S. 1, 30 S.Ct. 3, 54 L.Ed. 65 (1909). Federal courts have the power to order a person subject to its jurisdiction to execute a conveyance to land on pain of contempt. F.R.C.P. 70.

Injunctions Against Defamation

Generally, a defamed individual may not obtain injunctive relief against threatened or continued defamation. Courts have traditionally been reluctant to enjoin defamatory statements because of First Amendment free speech considerations. (See, Near v. State of Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697, 51 S.Ct. 625, 75 L.Ed. 1357 (1931). Furthermore, where public officials or public figures are involved, the defamed plaintiff must prove that the false statements were made with "actual malice" i.e., with knowledge that the statement was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not. New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 84 S.Ct. 710, 11 L.Ed.2d 686, (1964); Curtis Publishing v. Butts, 388 U.S. 130, 87 S.Ct. 1975, 18 L.Ed.2d 1094 (1967).

Injunctions to Protect Privacy

In Eastwood v. Superior Court, 149 Cal.App.3d 409, 198 Cal.Rptr. 342 (1983), the National Enquirer published a story allleging that Clint Eastwood was involved in a "love triangle" with Sondra Locke and Tanya Tucker. Eastwood brought two causes of action, one for invasion of privacy and the other based on Cal.Civ.Code § 3344, for misappropriation of his name and likeness for publicity. Eastwood alleged that the Enquirer employed his name, photograph and likeness on the front page of its paper and in related T.V. advertisements, without his prior consent for the purpose of promoting sales of the Enquirer. The court rejected the Enquirer's argument that a news account, even a false one, is protected by the First Amendment and held that the First Amendment does not immunize the Enquirer when the entire article is allegedly false.

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