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Temporary Restraining Orders and Injunctions in Denver and Colorado Courts
Preventing someone or an entity, such as a company or other organization, from taking some action or doing some activity requires an injunction or restraining order issued by a court. A restraining order is a type of injunction and the specific definition of an injunction is a court order requiring a person or entity to perform or cease a certain action. Examples of actions or activities an injunction may be obtained to prevent are stopping a person from using an easement; preventing a company from selling particular products; and stopping somebody from creating a nuisance that affects other people or their enjoyment of their property, such as loudly playing music. These examples are just a small scope of potential injunctions that can be obtained. In fact, injunctions can be obtained for almost anything that is necessary to stop or order a party from doing something and courts have broad discretion in determining the type of injunctive relief granted.
Generally speaking, there are three types of injunctions that are typically issued by courts, inclusive of Denver and Colorado courts, they are Temporary Restraining Orders, Preliminary Injunctions, and Permanent Injunctions. These three types of injunctions are similar in nature in that they will all prevent or order a party from doing a particular action, but they differ in how and when they are obtained. In Colorado and Denver court, the process of obtaining Temporary Restraining Orders and Preliminary Injunctions is governed by Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure (“C.R.C.P.”) 65. Permanent Injunctions are a requested form of relief and are usually not granted until the case has been fully litigated. All three types of injunctions are discussed further below.
Temporary Restraining Orders are issued for immediate relief after the lawsuit has been filed and initiated but before the court can have an opportunity to conduct a hearing on whether or not a Preliminary Injunction is necessary while the entire case is litigated. Because Temporary Restraining Orders are issued so quickly and without the opportunity for the other party to be heard, they are typically granted for only a short duration and are only meant to prevent irreparable harm that would occur during the time period from the filing of the lawsuit to when the court can hold a hearing for a Preliminary Injunction. More specifically, the theory behind issuing Temporary Restraining Orders is that if the damage that is being done is so irreparable that it cannot wait for a hearing then the court may issue an order without the other party having an opportunity to be heard or contest the issuance of the order. In this way, any damage that is ongoing and serious can be ceased immediately upon the filing of the lawsuit. In Colorado and Denver courts, under C.R.C.P. 65, a party seeking a Temporary Restraining Order must show, through an affidavit, verified motion, or testimony, that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result if the order is not granted. Additionally, the attorney for the party requesting the order must certify that notice to the adverse party should not be required or, if efforts have already been made to provide notice, the attorney should detail those efforts. If a Temporary Restraining Order is issued it shall expire after 14 days and, if issued without notice to the other party, a hearing for a preliminary injunction shall be set as soon as possible.
Similar to a Temporary Restraining Order, a Preliminary Injunction is issued early on in the lawsuit and is designed to stop an action or keep the status quo of the parties during the progression of the lawsuit. In essence the Preliminary Injunction prevents the damaging or irreparable action from occurring during the progression of the lawsuit. This is important because actually litigating a lawsuit to completion can often take a year or longer. If the action causing damages to the requesting party were allowed to continue while the lawsuit progressed, the damage done by the end of the lawsuit may be so irreparable and irreversible that the court cannot properly give a remedy at the conclusion of the lawsuit. Accordingly, a Preliminary Injunction solves this problem by preventing the damaging conduct from the time it is issued, early on in the lawsuit, until the end of the lawsuit when a Permanent Injunction may be issued. There are 6 requirements in Colorado and Denver for obtaining a Preliminary Injunction; they are that the requesting party must demonstrate (1) a reasonable probability of success on the merits of the case; (2) a danger of real, immediate, and irreparable injury which may be prevented by injunctive relief; (3) that there is no plain, speedy, and adequate remedy at law; (4) that the granting of a preliminary injunction will not disserve the public interest; (5) that the balance of equities favors the injunction; and (6) that the injunction will preserve the status quo pending a trial on the merits. See Gitlitz v. Bellock, 171 P.3d 1274 (Colo. App. 2007).
The last type of injunction is the Permanent Injunction. A Permanent Injunction is just that, an injunction that is permanent. It is issued at the conclusion of a lawsuit and must be part of the relief requested in the complaint. Typically, whether or not a Permanent Injunction should be issued is one of the main issues that is litigated during the case and typically is dependent on success of another claim. One example of a well-known Permanent Injunction is the one Apple requested be entered against Samsung after a jury found that Samsung’s products infringed on Apple’s patents. The requested Permanent Injunction would have prohibited Samsung from selling the infringing products indefinitely and was dependent on the jury’s finding that Samsung’s products infringed. In obtaining a Permanent Injunction, the requesting party must show 4 things: (1) the party has achieved actual success on the merits of the case; (2) irreparable harm will result unless the injunction is issued; (3) the threatened injury outweighs the harm that the injunction may cause to the opposing party; and (4) the injunction, if issued, will not adversely affect the public interest. See Langlois v. Board of County Com’rs of County of El Paso, 78 P.3d 1154, 1158 (Colo.App. 2003).