Generally, Courts have two different types of remedies they may award an aggrieved party: legal remedies or equitable remedies. The former is money damages. The latter is when the Court enters Orders or Decrees directing someone to either act or to forbear from acting (e.g., an injunction or restraining order); equity is often appropriate where money damages are insufficient or difficult to ascertain.
Restraining orders and injunctions are types of equitable relief. When a litigant asks a court for one of these, Missouri law requires Courts to consider: (1) the threat of irreparable harm to the movant; (2) the balance between the harm and the injury that granting the injunction will on other parties litigant; (3) movant’s probability of success on the merits; and (4) the public interest. State ex rel. Director of Revenue v. Gabbert, 925 S.W.2d 838, 839 (Mo. 1996) (citing Dataphase System, Inc. v. CL Systems, Inc., 640 F.2d 109 (8thCir. 1981)). Keep in mind that these are factors. The presence of one of these is not conclusive.
To obtain an equitable order, you must generally abide by due process and afford the opposing party an opportunity to tell the Court why it should not grant you the relief you are seeking. However, emergencies do happen which sometimes make it impractical and unjust for a Court to give the opposing party a chance to argue its case. In such circumstances, a Court may, in limited circumstances, grant an ex parte (by one party) order as an emergency measure to temporarily cease the underlying conduct. A full hearing will be conducted soon thereafter to determine the nature and extent of the order and whether the initial Order should even continue.
Like with all equitable relief, restraining orders, injunctions, and ex parte orders are quite confusing. They are purely questions of law, and, therefore, do not involve a jury determining facts; indeed, it will always be within a judge’s discretion and judgment.
Because judges are looking for very specific things in making equitable determinations, contact us today if you need help.