Temporary Restraining Orders and Injunctions
Author: Attorney John R. Orton
Chapter 813 of the Wisconsin Statutes contains the law regarding restraining orders and injunctions. There are specialized procedures for:
- Domestic abuse restraining orders and injunctions (813.12);
- Child abuse restraining orders and injunctions (813.122);
- Restraining orders and injunctions for individuals at risk (813.123);
- Harassment restraining orders and injunctions (813.125); and,
- Injunctions in prison condition cases ((813.40).
These statutes contain different procedures for the granting of relief in those particular factual circumstances. In all other cases, the general rules found in sections 813.01 – 813.11 Wis. Stats. apply, as interpreted by Wisconsin case law.
In general, to obtain a temporary restraining order or a temporary injunction, a party must show the following:
- That the order or injunction is necessary to prevent irreparable harm;
- That the party seeking the order or injunction lacks an adequate remedy at law if the status quo is not preserved;
- That there is a reasonable probability that the party seeking the order or injunction will be successful on the merits of the case; and,
- That equity favors granting the order or injunction.
Werner v. A.L. Grootemaat & Sons, Inc., 80 Wis.2d 513, 521, 259 N.W.2d 310 (1977); Pure Milk Prods. Coop. v. Nat’l Farmers Org., 90 Wis. 2d 781, 800, 280 N.W.2d 691 (1979).
There are many Wisconsin cases interpreting and applying these rules. One important interpretation relates to the definition of “irreparable harm.” In general, “irreparable harm” does not include any harm that is compensable by money damages. In other words, if the payment of money would resolve the dispute and adequately compensate the plaintiff, then a temporary restraining order or a temporary injunction should probably not be granted.
Temporary restraining orders and temporary injunctions are difficult to obtain and involve a complicated area of the law. Therefore, prosecuting or defending a request for a temporary restraining order or a temporary injunction usually requires the assistance of a lawyer experienced in such matters.