What is a preliminary injunction?

Even if you are not a sports fan, you have probably heard about Ezekiel Elliot’s suspension and ongoing legal battle with the NFL.  The phrase “preliminary injunction” has been and will be uttered thousands of times including on Monday, when the preliminary injunction was denied by the Court.

Have you ever asked yourself what is a preliminary injunction?

If you have, you have arrived at the right place, you can impress all your friends with fancy “legal knowledge” by simply reading on.

What is a preliminary injunction?
A preliminary injunction is an order from a court to a person or a company to either not do something or to do something. It is “preliminary” because the court typically makes the ruling at the beginning of the case prior to having a full trial where both sides get a chance to present their case. Judges, not juries decide on and issue preliminary injunctions.

For example, a preliminary injunction might order a person to refrain from contacting clients of a former employer, to enforce a non-compete agreement, or it might prohibit an organization from taking certain actions like locking striking workers out of the workplace. In the context of the Apple-Samsung lawsuit, it could be an order that prohibits Samsung from selling phones that infringe on Apple’s property. UPDATE: See Apple’s actual request here.

How does one get a preliminary injunction?

The first step is to file a motion with the court asking for the preliminary injunction and laying out the arguments in favor of it. The next step is usually a hearing where both sides of the case get to present their arguments, for and against.

To get a preliminary injunction, a party must prove, among other things, that if the complained-of conduct is not prohibited immediately, the party will suffer harm that cannot be fixed by another party simply paying money (damages). This concept is known as “irreparable harm.”

Specific Elements of a preliminary injunction from Wikipedia:

1. That there is a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of the case,
2. That they face a substantial threat of irreparable damage or injury if the injunction is not granted,
3. That the balance of harms weighs in favor of the party seeking the preliminary injunction
4. That the grant of an injunction would serve the public interest.

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Posted by Shawn Roberts

On this blog, I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. My focus and most experience is in estate planning and business issues including Oklahoma non-compete law. I make a living as an attorney in the law firm I founded, Cazes Roberts, PLLC in Oklahoma City. I live in Edmond with wife Amy and my two children, Sam (17) and David (9). We live precisely in the path of where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."