Gavel, orange 150

Please permit a short legal history lesson. Our legal  system originated from the English common law,  where the courts were split into at least two different  types to handle actions at law (where the parties  could obtain a monetary award, only) and actions at  equity (where the court could physically restrain a  party from doing something.

Modern Procedures.
Modern court have done away with the absolute  division between “law” and “equity” courts. However,  certain distinctions still exist between demands for  money versus an order restraining conduct. For  example, in an action at law (for money) you have  the right to a jury trial. However, in equity, to enjoin  conduct (such as enforcing a non-compete) the  judge sitting “in equity” decides all issues of fact and  law and you do not get a jury trial, unless all parties  consent.

The Legal Standard
To get an injunction, the court must find that no  adequate remedy exists “at law,” meaning, the  subject matter is so unique that one cannot put a  dollar value on the claim. For this reason, it helps if  the contract signed by the parties identifies how or  why no “adequate remedy of law” would exist.

Trial Judge
The claim for an injunction is commenced by the filing  of a complaint and a petition to enjoin conduct. In  Allegheny County, it may be assigned to a trial judge  upon the filing of a motion. Allegheny County is  noteworth for having a commerce and complex  litigation center in place that specifically handles  litigation of non-compete cases. As of the writing of  this article, the commerce court judges include the  Honorable Stanton Wettick and the Honorable  Christine Ward.

The Stages
The party seeking the injunction may seek an  emergency order to enforce a restrictive covenant.   There, the plaintiff must show that it will sustain  irreparable damage if the emergency order is not  granted. These types of relief are rarely granted in  part because of the high standard and the short  period of time you get to prepare for court. The  commerce court will quickly schedule a hearing or  conference in 30 days or less from the request and  the court date comes quickly. Alternatively, the  moving party may waive the emergency temporary  injunction and opt for more time to do discovery  relative to a permanent injunction.

Free Consultation.
We offer a free case evaluation of these important  issues.