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Injunctions in California

Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and California Civil Code Section § 3368 allow for injunctive relief as a form of equitable relief that mandates a defendant to, or prohibits a defendant from performing a specific act. Injunctions are considered an extraordinary remedy, only to be granted in limited circumstances. See Weinberger v. Romero-Barcelo, 456 U.S. 305 (1982).

In order to grant an injunction, there must be a showing of:

1. An inadequate remedy at law;

2. A serious risk of irreparable harm absent injunctive relief;

3. A likelihood that plaintiff will prevail on the merits of the controversy; and,

4. A balancing test of the harm to the defendant in granting the injunction versus the harm to the plaintiff in withholding it.

There are two types of injunctions: mandatory and prohibitory. The determining factor is the type of conduct that is affected by the injunction, if granted.

A mandatory injunction, which is a specific relief, requires a person to engage in an affirmative act that typically changes the status quo. Yu Juan v. City of New York, et al., 181 Fed. Appx. 38 (2d Cir. 2006). When the injunction is directed at providing mandatory relief, as opposed to preserving the status quo, the moving party’s burden is particularly heavy. United States v. Spectro Foods Corp, 544 F.2d 1175, 1181 (3d Cir. 1976).

A prohibitory injunction, which is a form of preventative relief, restrains or prohibits a party from engaging in a specified behavior.

Temporary Restraining Order (California Code of Civil Procedure § 527)

A Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) preserve the status quo of the parties until there is a n opportunity to hold a full hearing on the application for a preliminary injunction. This interlocutory injunction may remain in effect only a limited number of days, to be set by the court, and no longer than 14 days unless good cause exists or by consent of the adversary. Rule 65(b)(2).

Pursuant to § 527, a TRO may issue without notice to the adverse party if the applicant establishes great or irreparable injury.


In addition to being filed with the clerk, the TRO must state the following:

  1. the date and time issued;

  2. The irreparable harm suffered by the plaintiff; and,

  3. The reasoning behind the ex parte issuance. Rule 65(b)(2).

Preliminary Injunction

A Preliminary Injunction is a form of relief issued prior to a full hearing on the merits, but only upon notice to the defendant and a hearing on whether the injunction should issue. Should an expedited decision on the merits be appropriate, a court may order a trial on the merits to be consolidated with the preliminary injunction hearing. Rule 65(a).

A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that:

  1. He is likely to succeed on the merits;

  2. He is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of relief;

  3. The balance of equities is in his favor; and

  4. The injunction is in the best interest of the public.

Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7 (2008).

Permanent Injunction

A Permanent Injunction is a determination on the merits. Once issued, it continues until dissolved by the court, but any affected person may move for modification or dissolution. The standard for a permanent injunction is essentially the same as for a preliminary injunction except that the plaintiff must show actual success on the merits. See eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, LLC, 547 U.S. 388 (2006). Further, under CA Code of Civil Procedure Section § 529, the court may require an undertaking of future payments of damages of a wrongfully enjoined party if applicable.


When a conflict of jurisdiction occurs between state and federal courts, the federal court cannot use an injunction to prohibit pending state-court proceedings unless expressly authorized by statute. Neither can a federal court grant an injunction against the collection of state taxes.

Effectiveness of an Injunction

An injunction may state its date as "effective until further notice," otherwise its duration may be limited to according to its date of expiration. A TRO terminates automatically upon the granting or the denial of a preliminary injunction.

It is beneficial to retain experienced and professional attorneys in order to maximize the effectiveness of your injunction. Please call Aziz Legal by phone at (408) 203-4627 or email us at

This article is merely informational and is not intended to be used as legal advice. Use of any information from this article is for general information only and does not represent personal legal or tax advice, either express or implied. Readers are encouraged to consult Aziz Legal, or another attorney, for any specific legal matters.

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