Injunction: Stopping The Other Guy

This morning, Ricketts & Yang will go into court on behalf of dozens of concerned residents of Hermosa Beach to seek a temporary restraining order, and eventually, a preliminary injunction, preventing the Hermosa Beach City School District from tearing down a historic Hermosa school.

The District wants to tear down North School, and rebuild it from scratch.  The citizens want other options to be explored first.  Options like leasing classrooms in a conveniently located school the District used to own, or renovating North – not demolishing it.  The citizens have a strong argument against the demolition, but the District wants to get started – like, yesterday.  What to do?  There’s a civil procedure for that called seeking a TRO and OSC as to why a preliminary injunction should not issue.

A TRO is a temporary restraining order.  It is an “emergency” act by the court to preserve the status quo while the parties assemble their evidence and arguments as to why the TRO should be extended, or dissolved.  In this case, Ricketts & Yang will ask for a TRO stopping the District from demolishing or otherwise harming North School.

An OSC is an order to show cause.  An OSC is like a question from the court that must be answered.  It can be used for a variety of “questions.”  For instance, the court may want an explanation as to why something happened, or has not happened yet.  In this case, the OSC will “ask” the District why a preliminary injunction should not issue.  The District will want to present at least some of its arguments as to why it should be allowed to destroy the school.  The citizens will have a chance to argue their reasons why the school can’t be destroyed.  If the court agrees that the citizens might eventually prove their case, it will issue the injunction.

A preliminary injunction lasts for the duration of the lawsuit.  This gives the parties an opportunity to review their documents, subpoena third parties, depose witnesses, retain experts, and strategize for a jury or bench trial.  All of this takes a lot of time.  The injunction ensures that during that time, the parties can’t just moot the lawsuit – for example, by destroying North.

If the citizens ultimately prove their case and the court determines North can’t be destroyed, what next?  The citizens get the benefit of a permanent injunction, which lasts from the end of the case until the injunction expires.

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