Legal actions can result in one party paying the other for damages, but a judge can also order a party to do, or not do, something to protect the plaintiff’s rights and interests. This can be accomplished through an injunction or restraining order, which can be temporary or permanent.
A judge can issue an injunction pursuant to a statute of through his or her equitable powers when not specifically authorized by statute. Equitable powers of a judge allow a decision based on the overall fairness of the situation. Given how broad this could be and the potential for abuse, judges are normally not eager to exercise equitable powers.
A party wanting a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction must show that the relief sought in an underlying lawsuit depends on preventing the occurrence or continuance of an act that would result in waste or irreparable injury.
An injunction can be granted on a showing of,
- An inadequate remedy at law, meaning compensation would be insufficient,
- A serious risk of irreparable harm without injunctive relief,
- A likelihood the plaintiff will prevail on the merits of the underlying lawsuit, and
- When balancing the harm to the defendant in issuing an injunction against the harm to the plaintiff without the injunction, fairness shows it should be issued.