Report Reveals High Bar for Preliminary Injunctions

Preliminary Injunctions: VERSION A

A preliminary injunction is one of the most serious judicial interventions that takes place in American courtrooms. Because they restrict the defendant from taking action, the standard is high – the judge must find that, among other things, the plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits of the case, and that the plaintiff is likely to be irreparably harmed unless the injunction is granted. With such a high bar, how likely are these motions to be granted?

According to a set of over 12,000 orders on preliminary injunction requests from federal courts, judges outright reject preliminary injunctions 63% of the time. Other serious motions – like summary judgment and dismissal – are much more likely to be granted by a judge, indicating that the bar for preliminary injunction is indeed high.

Judges take their time with these motions, too. On average nationwide, a motion for preliminary injunction is ruled on about two months after it is filed.