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California Injunctions

Quick Summary

An Injunction is an order that an act be done or not be done.

Injunctions will not issue unless the legal remedy (usually damages) is inadequate.

Further, the maxims and standards originally developed hundreds of years ago by the courts of England still guide and limit the conditions upon which injunctive relief is available in California. This includes 'irreparable injury,' 'balancing equities,' 'doing equity,' 'laches,' 'multiplicity of actions,' etc.

Authority for Injunctions

General Laws

The laws for injunctions pending trial is Code of Civil Procedure Sections 525-534, and particularly Section 527.

One also needs to review California Rules of Court 3.1130-3.1153.

Specific Laws

There are also numerous laws found throughout the California statutes authorizing injunctions in specific instances. One example is family law cases.

How Do I Get an Injunction?

The first step is to file a lawsuit. You cannot walk into court, no matter how dire the situation, and ask the judge to issue an order.

The second step is to file a motion requesting an injunction. The motion needs to do the following:

- Be supported by authority giving you a legal basis for an injunction. Most of the remainder of this page focuses on this important requirement.

- Be supported by evidence. This means supplying a declaration under penalty of perjury explaining the facts and providing any documents. The evidence needs to be admissible as if it were a trial. Hearsay, speculation and innuendo will not get you far.

- Include an order specifically describing what conduct is to be enjoined. The narrower and more limited your request the more likely it is to be granted.
If your motion is in order it can be acted on right away. The court can issue what is called a TRO, or temporary restraining order, which is an immediate injunction.

Since a TRO typically does not give your opponent much time to oppose the request, the court will set a hearing in a couple week for a preliminary injunction. This gives your opponent time to present an opposition legal brief and evidence opposing the injunction request.

The final step is to file a bond. Typically, a bond of some monetary amount is required in civil cases to secure an injunction. If someone could suffer a monetary loss due to an injunction, and it later turns out the injunction was not proper, the purpose of the bond is to give them something to help mitigate their loss.

These are common steps in civil cases. Family law matters may be different.

Three Types of Injunctions

1. Temporary restraining order

A temporary restraining order (hereafter 'TRO') is issued 'ex parte'. Its purpose is to preserve the status quo, or prevent irreparable harm pending the hearing of an application for preliminary injunction on notice.

A TRO has the same force and effect as a preliminary or permanent injunction, but it may issue without a bond or undertaking. A TRO terminates automatically when a preliminary injunction either is issued or denied.


2. Preliminary injunction

A preliminary injunction is issued after a hearing on a noticed motion. Its purpose is to preserve the status quo and prevent irreparable harm pending trial on the merits.

Temporary Restraining Orders and Preliminary Injunctions are provisional remedies granted prior to any final judgment or disposition in the case.


3. Permanent injunctions

Permanent injunctions are issued only after trial and as a part of the judgment or decree.

When a Court Cannot Issue an Injunction

There are also certain cases in which courts are prohibited by law from issuing injunctions. These include:

State taxation

No injunction may be granted to stop the collection of state taxes. [California Constitution Article XIII, Section 32; Revenue and Taxation Code Section 19081. In Hunter-Reay v. Franchise Tax Board (1983) 140 CA3d 875, 878 the court ruled there could be no injunction even if the tax was unconstitutional.

Stopping Lawsuits

A California court cannot issue an injunction to stop a federal court proceedingg. It cannot stop another court in another state if there is a judgment in that other state. It cannot stop another lawsuit unless needed to prevent unnecessary multiple actions. [Code of Civil Procedure Section 526; Civil Code Section 3423(a)-(c)]

Stopping Enforcement of a Law

A California court will not prevent government officials from enforcing a law unless the law is unconstitutional or if enforcment of a valid law is done illegally. [Code of Civil Procedure Section section 526; Civil Code Section 3423(d); Alfaro v. Terhune (2002) 98 CA4th 492, 500; Novar Corp. v. Bureau of Collection & Investigative Services (1984) 160 CA3d 1, 5]

Stopping Breach of Contract

A court will not prevent the breach of a contract. There is one exception for written contracts to perform 'unique' personal services for a certain minimum amount. [See Code of Civil Procedure Section 526(b)(5); Civil Code Section 3423(e)] In this situation a court cannot order that someone continue working for someone else, as that constitutes slavery. But the court can prevent them from working elsewhere. [Barndt v. County of Los Angeles (1989) 211 CA3d 397, 404; Woolley v. Embassy Suites, Inc. (1991) 227 CA3d 1520, 1533-1534; Beverly Glen Music, Inc. v. Warner Communications, Inc. (1986) 178 CA3d 1142, 1144.

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