Types of Injury
Not every complaint can be remedied by the court using a TRO or Temporary Injunction.
The injury underlying a claim for injunctive relief must be actual and substantial, or a real, affirmative prospect of an actual and substantial injury. No injunction will be issued if the act in question is merely an inconvenience for the plaintiff or if the plaintiff is merely speculating that something bad might happen.
Plaintiffs must normally demonstrate that the injury with which they are threatened is irreparable. “Irreparable injury” occurs when the injury is one where the plaintiff cannot be adequately compensated for it in money, or the the amount of money due to the plaintiff cannot be measured by any certain standard.
The nature of the injury and the character of the injunctive relief that is sought are considered in light of the particular circumstances of the case. For instance, injury arising from trespass to mining property is viewed particularly seriously because of the threat that minerals will be destroyed, while an ordinary trespass claim may not justify issuance of a mandatory injunction. While a threat to an urgent human requirement, such as water, is serious and may outweigh interests militating against the grant of mandatory injunctive relief, it is a less serious injury if applicants for the injunction have an alternative source of water.
If a plaintiff seeks an order prohibiting a given act, the plaintiff must show that the defendant intends to engage in the conduct that is sought to be enjoined. For instance, in one case, a court of appeals said that a trial court was wrong for issuing a TRO that stopped a hospital from destroying medical records when the evidence showed no intention on the part of the hospital to do so.
As in other contexts, circumstantial evidence may be sufficient to establish the required intention even when the defendant gives a solemn promise that the conduct will not be committed.
As in all other cases, the plaintiff in an injunction suit has the burden of proving not only the wrongful conduct, but also that the injury complained of was caused by the conduct.
Ordinarily, the plaintiff will be entitled to an injunction only if it appears from all the circumstances that the plaintiff “has no adequate remedy at law for prevention or redress of wrongs and grievance of which complaint is made.” The plaintiff must show not only that a suit for money would fail to give complete relief.
The determination of whether an adequate remedy at law exists is not a mechanical task. The mere existence of a remedy at law is not a ground for a denial of injunctive relief unless the legal remedy is as practical and efficient to the ends of justice as the equitable remedy. Thus, while a plaintiff may have a right to bring an action for damages, that remedy is inadequate if damages cannot be calculated.
Both legal and practical considerations must be taken into account. For example, a temporary injunction restraining a landlord from evicting a tenant is improper when title to the premises is not in dispute and the tenant has an adequate remedy through the defense of an unlawful eviction and through prosecution of a damage action in district court. Similarly, the legal remedy of attachment was held inadequate and injunctive relief was proper in a case in which the defendants had followed a pattern of transferring funds to corporations that were under their control but outside the court’s jurisdiction.
Proving there is no adequate remedy at law is not required in some cases. For instance, it has been held that when a plaintiff is injured as a result of a void condemnation proceeding, the issuance of a temporary injunction does not require a showing of irreparable injury or an inadequate remedy at law.
One court, when determining whether a party had an adequate legal remedy, has considered the existence of a contract provision by which the parties agreed that remedies at law for breach would be inadequate and that the parties were entitled to injunctive and other equitable relief. The court noted that there is a strong public policy in favor of preserving the freedom to contract, and absent a statute or fundamental public policy precluding waiver, a party generally may contractually waive even constitutional or statutory rights. The court did not rely solely on this provision, but concluded that considering this and other facts, there was some substantive and probative evidence to support the trial court’s injunction.