Temporary Restraining Orders, Part I – Fast Track Litigation in an Emergency
Thomas W. Hartmann
The Hartmann Law Firm LLC
TheHartmannLawFirm.com; [email protected]; 908 769 6888
Courts Can Move Rapidly. Litigation is not always long and plodding. In an emergency, a party may seek a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction to get immediate aid from the court. In such cases, courts move quickly – and expect you to do so, as well. This requires rapid preparation of complaints and briefing papers – followed by in person filing. Courts frown on requests for emergency relief that are mailed in – using snail mail does create a sense of urgency.
Four Part Standard. Here is the legal standard. Under Rule 4: 52-1, a court is empowered to issue temporary restraints and an injunction pending the final disposition of a matter. Crowe v. DeGioria, 90 N.J. 126, 134 (1982.) New Jersey courts have long recognized that the grounds for temporary injunctive relief include “the preservation of the property, the preservation of the status quo, and the prevention of irreparable injury.” Sayre & Fisher Land Co. v. R. U. Rue Co., 2 N.J. Misc., 1081, 1082 (Ch. 1924). Plaintiffs deserve this protection.
In deciding whether to grant injunctive relief, New Jersey courts consider four basic principles: (1) whether the moving party has demonstrated a reasonable probability of success on the merits; (2) whether there is a substantial likelihood of irreparable harm to the moving party if the injunction does not issue; (3) whether, in balancing the interests involved, the harm that the moving party seeks to avert outweighs any possible harm to the non-movant; and (4) whether the public interest will be harmed. Crowe v. DeGioria, 90 N.J. at 133-134 (discussing the first three principles); Waste Management of N.J. v. Union County Utils. Auth., 399 N.J. Super. 508, 519-20 (App. Div. 2008) (discussing fourth principle).
These principles are tempered by the firmly established rule that an interlocutory or temporary injunction may issue on a lesser presentation if the order is designed to protect the status quo. McKenzie v. Corzine, 396 N.J. Super. 405, 414 (App. Div. 2007) (“A court may take a less rigid view in its consideration of these factors when the interlocutory injunction sought is designed merely to preserve the status quo.”); General Electric v. Gem Vacuum Stores, 36 N.J. Super. 234, 236-37 (App. Div. 1955). Indeed, when the scope of temporary or preliminary relief is limited to preserving the status quo during the suit's pendency, the Court may place less emphasis on a particular factor, if another greatly requires the issuance of the remedy. Waste Management of N.J., Inc. v. Union County Utils. Auth., 399 N.J. Super., at 520.
Not Easy to Get. Temporary relief is not easy to get, as you are asking the Court to side with you without extensive evidence. But, in an emergency, for example, when products are being destroyed, sold or consumed or a company's business assets are being ruined, and irreparable harm is occurring, courts are likely to be eager to listen and give a ruling. Moreover, even if the court does not grant the outright temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction, the court may admonish or warn the other side not to misuse property or assets or the court will reconsider.
In an emergency when business assets are at great risk, at least consider if the facts are clear enough and the danger great enough that seeking a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction is warranted.
The Hartmann Law Firm LLC can assist in these matters to insure your business and your assets are protected. Beyond this, we can help guide businesses through issues ahead of litigation or aggressively advocate in litigation and business disputes should the need arise.