Have you ever heard of ‘injunctive relief’ or an injunction? They are one and the same, and a discretionary power of the court in a civil lawsuit. Injunctive relief is an alternative legal remedy that can be extremely helpful to the plaintiff. (See our previous articles about Tort and Class Action cases).
Injunctive relief is very similar to a “cease and desist” order, directed at the defendant. (In other words, it is a command by the court that a certain unacceptable, harmful, or questionable behavior be stopped.) The usual issues that injunctions address deal with stalking, harassment, trademark and copyright infringement, and discrimination. There are both temporary injunctions and permanent. Permanent ones result from a final judgment or ruling in a case. Temporary injunctions, on the other hand, can only be ordered until a case reaches verdict. For example, some restraining orders are only a temporary type. Then, when a verdict is reached, the restraining order may become permanent.
Another layer or component of injunctions is that they sometimes deal with monetary damages. Courts usually do not offer these to plaintiffs if the monetary damages awarded by the case ruling offer full financial relief. However, if a result of the behavior that has been in question provides alternate damage to the plaintiff, part of the injunction will cover expenses to restore the victim to a level closer to where they were before the harmful behavior took place.
At this point, you may be wondering how a court determines whether or not an injunction is necessary. Well, there are a couple factors that they tend to base their decisions on. First of all, the defendant’s due process rights from the 5th Amendment are considered. Secondly, the immediacy of harm is considered for the victim. So basically the question is asked: “How badly does the plaintiff need the protection of the injunction?”
In closing, there are things that anyone who has recently filed for an injunction must keep in mind. First and foremost, the papers have to be served to the defendant before the injunction is valid! If the papers have not been served and behavior is continuing, there is no real case yet, as the law (injunction) has not been broken yet. Secondly, it is important to document happenings that are surrounding the situation. For example, if you are aware that someone has been dumping hazardous waste on your land, and you know how long it has been going on, then hopefully you recorded the action and made note of when the dumpings took place or were noticed. (This record-keeping makes a case easier to build.)
Lastly, an injunction is not a solid protection for someone. If a person feels threatened or endangered, especially in the case of restraining orders, they should take additional precautions. Always speak with a qualified attorney to determine your legal rights and best course of action.