What Is An Injunction And Why Should You Care?

An injunction is a court order that requires someone to do something or prevents them from doing something.  There are a few different types of injunctions, but I'm only going to discuss the two that apply to defamation cases.

The first is a preliminary injunction.  In California, in order to establish a preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must show:  (1) a likelihood of prevailing on the merits and, (2) that the harm to the plaintiff from not granting the injunction outweighs the harm to defendant if the injunction is issued before trial.  A preliminary injunction is extremely advantageous to a plaintiff in a defamation case. It allows plaintiff to stop defendant from making certain defamatory comments/statements about plaintiff. Very powerful.  However, they're rarely granted because California courts are extremely protective of speech.  

On the other hand, I find that courts are much more likely to grant a preliminary injunction if internet defamation is involved.  Why do I believe this?  Because of the nature of the internet.  A person's reputation can be destroyed virtually instantly and it never really goes away.  A court may view this as unfair and attempt to right the "wrong."  What is certain is that courts are struggling to apply old legal rules and concepts to the internet.

The second type of injunction is a permanent injunction.  California courts will grant a permanent injunction only after a trial.  Essentially, whatever statement(s) the judge or jury determined to be defamatory, can be permanently enjoined.  That means you can never utter those statement(s) about plaintiff ever again, unless you want to risk being held in contempt.  Which you don't.

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