Hawaii Injunctions

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In Hawaii (and all around the U.S.), motions for injunctive relief are frequently used in matters where a party is attempting to seek some form of relief other than money.  For instance, an injunction was recently requested in HGEA v Lingle, 239 P.3d 1 (Hawai‘i, September 8, 2010) whereby the HGEA requested an injunction to prohibit the Governor from imposing furloughs on public employees.  In Hawaii Federal Court, “a plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest.”  Yamada v Kuramoto, CV. No. 10-00497 JMS LEK, 2010 WL 3984702, *2 (D. Hawaii, October 7, 2010).  A preliminary injunction, therefore, only “may issue where the likelihood of success is such that serious questions going to the merits are raised and the balance of hardships tips in plaintiff’s favor” and the other two elements (i.e. (i) irreparable harm and (ii) the injunction is in the public interest) are met.  Id. (citations, brackets, and quotations omitted).  However, “injunctive relief is an extraordinary relief that may only be awarded upon a clear showing that the plaintiff is entitled to such relief.”  D.K. ex rel. Kellet v Lingle, CV. No. 09-00507 DAE LEK, 2009 WL 3415353, *1 (D. Hawaii, October 22, 2009). 

In examining the above mentioned factors, “courts have consistently noted that because a showing of probable irreparable harm is the single most important prerequisite for the issuance of a preliminary injunction, the moving party must first demonstrate that such injury is likely before the other requirements for the issuance of an injunction will be considered.”  Dominion Video Satellite, Inc. v Echostar Satellite Corp., 356 F.3d 1256, 1260 (C.A. 10 (Colo.), 2004)(quotations and citations omitted)[1] With respect to the injury requirement, “the party seeking the injunction must demonstrate that it will be exposed to some significant risk of irreparable injury . . . .  A plaintiff must do more than merely allege imminent harm sufficient to establish standing, he or she must demonstrate immediate threatened injury as a prerequisite to preliminary injunctive relief.”  Whitman v Hawaii Tug and Barge Corporation 27 F.Supp.2d 1225, 1229 (D. Haw., 1998).  Moreover, the law is well settled that “purely monetary injuries are not normally considered irreparable.”  Lydo Enterprises, Inc v City of Las Vegas, 745 F.2d 1211 1213, (C.A.Nev. 1984) citing Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Comm’n v National Football League, 634 F.2d 1197, 1202 (9th Cir. 1980). 

In Hawaii State Court, “[t]he test for granting or denying temporary injunctive relief is three-fold: (1) whether the plaintiff is likely to prevail on the merits; (2) whether the balance of irreparable damage favors the issuance of a temporary injunction; and (3) whether the public interest supports granting an injunction.” Nuuanu Valley Ass’n v. City and County of Honolulu, 119 Hawai’i 90, 106 (Hawai‘i, 2008) citing Office of Hawaiian Affairs v Hous.  Cmty. Dev. Corp. of Hawaii, 117 Hawaii 174, 211 (2008). “[T]he more the balance of irreparable damage favors issuance of the injunction, the less the party seeking the injunction has to show the likelihood of success on the merits.”  Id.

[1] The reader should be aware the case Dominion Video Satellite, Inc. v Echostar Satellite Corp. was relied upon and cited by the Hawaii Federal Bankruptcy Court in In re Hawaiian Airlines, Inc., Bankruptcy No. 03-00817, 2006 WL 2864921, *5 (Brktcy. D.Hawaii, October 5, 2006).