On rare occasions, courts enter preliminary injunctions to prevent irreparable harm before a decision on the merits is reached. A preliminary injunction can restrain a party from proceeding with a certain course of conduct, preserve the status quo, or protect a party’s rights pending the final determination of a case. However, courts are hesitant to grant this relief. In Rathke, the Colorado Supreme Court explained that a “preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy . . . [that] should not be indiscriminately granted.” Rathke v. MacFarlane, 648 P.2d 648, 653 (Colo. 1982). Instead, preliminary injunctions “should be exercised sparingly and cautiously…” Id.

To obtain a preliminary injunction, the moving party must establish the following elements:

  1. a reasonable probability of success on the merits;
  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 balancing of equities favors the injunction; and
  6. that the injunction will preserve the status quo pending a trial on the merits

If the moving party fails to satisfy even one of the above six elements, the motion for preliminary injunction fails. Once a preliminary injunction is obtained, the injunction does not extend past the parties’ trial. Rather, the successful party may obtain a permanent injunction.

If you have questions about this topic, please contact Gwyneth Whalen, the section head for the litigation law group at Caplan and Earnest, LLC, at 303-443-8010.