What is an Injunction under Virginia Law?
An injunction is an order from the court prohibiting the person or entity from doing an act, continuing the act, or mandating them to perform a specified act.
What do courts look for to grant an Injunction?
The person seeking an injunction, which most of the time is the Plaintiff, must show two things: (1) “irreparable harm” and (2) “lack of an adequate remedy at law”, i.e. money damages will not suffice.
Types of Cases In Which An Injunction May Be Warranted:
1. Neighbor A builds a fence on Neighbor B’s property. This is an example of a continuing trespass, which qualifies for injunctive relief.
2. Abusive X-boyfriend starts posting false and defamatory statements about his former girlfriend on social media. An injunction would be in the form of a court order prohibiting the X-boyfriend from posting any further defamatory statements online.
3. Neighbor A plays loud music every night and Neighbor B is unable to sleep or engage in ordinary life activities due to the excessive noise (nuisance). This action would qualify for an injunction to stop the nuisance.
4. Person A erects an embankment on his land which diverts water to flow onto Bs land and flood it.
5. Employee of Company A violates a noncompete agreement with the Company and starts a parallel competing business. This would be the classic injunction case to prevent the employee from violating the noncompete.
What are the types of Injunctions?
There are several types of injunctions and each will be discussed below with examples to help illustrate the situations one would seek these types of injunctions.
A mandatory injunction is an order that requires a Defendant to perform a specified act. A mandatory injunction is known as an extraordinary remedy and is usually only granted in unusual situations.
A Court may grant a Mandatory injunction, if a Plaintiff shows:
1. That they have an irreparable injury;
2. Remedies available at law, such as a monetary award, are inadequate to compensate the injury;
3. Considering the balance of hardships between the Plaintiff and the Defendant, an equitable remedy, i.e. injunction is warranted; and
4. Public interest will not be negatively impacted by a mandatory injunction.
A prohibitory injunction, as the name implies, prohibits a Defendant from performing an act. The purpose of a prohibitory injunction is either to maintain the status quo, restrain the on-going wrong, or to prevent the anticipated future wrongful act.
A court may have good cause to grant a Prohibitory Injunction, if a Defendant has a “reasonable cause to believe that the wrong [complained of] is one that would cause irreparable injury and the wrong is actually threatened or apprehended with reasonable probability.” See Cty. of Washington v. City of Bristol, 63 Va. Cir. 450 (2003) (citing WTAR Radio-TV Corp. v. City Council of City of Virginia Beach, 216 Va. 892, 894-95, 223 S.E.2d 895, 898 (1976)).
Temporary injunctions include temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions. A temporary restraining order (TRO) is a remedy where a court immediately orders the Defendant to perform or refrain from performing a specified act until the court can make a determination on a motion for a preliminary injunction. A preliminary injunction is a remedy where a court orders a someone to perform, or refrain from performing a specified act until the there is a judgment on the case.
Temporary injunctions are limited in their duration and their purpose is to stop the harmful act(s) or prevent them from happening while the case is being litigated.
A court may grant a Temporary Injunction if a Plaintiff demonstrates: (1) likelihood of success on the merits of their case and (2) that they will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted.
Ex Parte Injunction
An ex-parte injunction is one that is issued without giving prior notice to the Defendant. These usually only occur in extreme circumstances of urgency. There must be an extreme pressing necessity for the injunction and the harm complained of must be imminent and irreparable should it occur.
Permanent injunctions are final and typically last for an indefinite period of time.
A court may grant a Permanent Injunction if the Plaintiff demonstrates the: (1) likelihood of success on the merits of their case and (2) that they will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted.