A temporary restraining order (TRO) is a court order of limited duration. A temporary restraining order requires a party to maintain a certain status (or to immediately cease certain actions) until the court has an opportunity to hear further evidence and argument from the parties.
In Illinois, a temporary restraining order can be imposed where there is:
- a clearly ascertained right in need of protection
- irreparable injury in the absence of an injunction
- no adequate remedy at law, and
- a likelihood of success on the merits of the case.
Temporary Restraining Orders
Business and other legal emergencies require quick and decisive legal action. One such action is to petition the court for a temporary restraining order (TRO). A temporary restraining order is typically the first step in seeking emergency legal relief. A TRO requires formal legal action seeking a court to order a party, usually a defendant, to cease certain actions until the court has an opportunity to hear further evidence. A TRO is a remedy issued by the court to maintain the status quo until a hearing on the merits. Courts will usually grant a TRO to prevent immediate or imminent harm to the party seeking a TRO. A TRO is an extraordinary remedy available only in extreme circumstances where an emergency exists and where harm/damage is imminent.
When are TRO’s Appropriate?
TRO’s are often sought in a number of business settings, including employment settings. For example, to enforce non-compete, non-disclosure, non-solicitation and confidentiality agreements. TRO’s are also sought in disagreements between business partners during partnership, shareholder and member disputes. TRO’s are used to prevent trademark infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets, and to prevent infringement on other contractual rights or to enforce certain rights.
When seeking an injunction, the plaintiff movant often seeks to prevent the adverse party (defendant) from taking certain threatened future action. For example, stopping someone from commencing conduct damaging to a plaintiff’s business. A business owner might seek a TRO to stop a former employee from violating a noncompete or other restrictive covenant by opening a directly competing business directly across the street or in the immediate vicinity.
Elements Necessary for a TRO
To be entitled to a TRO in Illinois, a plaintiff must have: (1) a clearly ascertained right in need of protection, (2) irreparable injury in the absence of an injunction, (3) no adequate remedy at law, and (4) a likelihood of success on the merits of the case. Legal action, typically by way of a lawsuit, must be taken in order to obtain a TRO. The immediate potential for irreparable harm is the most important factor in obtaining a TRO.
The overriding consideration in determining whether to issue a TRO is whether the status quo otherwise will be lost. A plaintiff seeking a TRO must show a “fair question” about the existence of his right and that the court should preserve the status quo until the case can be decided on the merits. The “status quo” can be defined as the last actual, peaceable, uncontested status prior to the controversy.
Process of Obtaining a TRO
Procedures for seeking TRO’s can be found in section 11-101 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, 735 ILCS 11-01. TRO’s can be obtained without notice under certain circumstances, but notice to the defendant is usually preferred.
A party seeking a TRO must typically file a motion or petition as well as a verified complaint containing the necessary facts and elements. A party must raise a fair question as to the existence of the right claimed and give the court enough to warrant a TRO order preserving the status quo until a further hearing.
A TRO is only temporary and will not provide permanent relief. After a TRO is entered by the court, the next step will be to obtain a preliminary injunction. This requires a higher standard and evidentiary proof and an evidentiary hearing.
Contact Our Chicago Law Firm
Seeking or defending a TRO can be pivotal to a business or individual’s future. Our Chicago emergency business litigation attorneys have years of experience handling business disputes and other professional disputes on an emergency basis. We handle emergency business matters, such as temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions, in state and federal courts throughout Illinois, including Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will Counties. To schedule a free consultation with one of our business litigation lawyers, please contact us online or give us a call at 312-789-5676.