Sometimes, what you need from your commercial contract litigation action is an appropriate sum of money damages to compensate you for the harm you suffered before and during the litigation. Sometimes, though, no amount of money can compensate you for the harm someone’s misconduct is causing. When that happens, there’s another option for relief. It’s called a preliminary injunction and, if you need one, a skillful Atlanta commercial contracts lawyer can help you obtain that sort of court order.
Many times, a party seeks a preliminary injunction to get the court to order another party to stop doing something. Other times, though, what you need is a court order directing a party to do something. That was the challenge facing a Columbus-based home builder recently.
The builder had inked a land purchase agreement to obtain “residential building lots” from a husband, his wife, and several corporate entities associated with the couple. That contract contained a specific schedule for the provision of 1,600 lots.
After the sellers had sold some lots, the relationship between the sides broke down and the sellers refused to turn over any more lots. Eventually, the sellers missed two deadlines. The builder responded by filing a motion for a preliminary injunction. The injunction it sought would force the sellers to turn over the lots required by the contract’s schedule.
The Four Essential Criteria Needed for a Preliminary Injunction
When you seek a preliminary injunction, you must prove four essential things. First, you have to show that you have a “substantial likelihood” of winning on the merits. Second, you have to demonstrate that, if you don’t receive an injunction, you’ll endure “irreparable injury.” Third, you have to establish that this irreparable injury is worse than any harm the injunction might cause to the opposing party. Fourth, the injunction cannot be “adverse to the public interest.”
Criterion number one was a strong one for the builder. The sellers argued that they were not obligated to supply the lots because they had terminated the contract, but the agreement only allowed the sellers to terminate if the builder defaulted. The court concluded that the builder likely would be able to prove at trial that it either did not default or, if it did default, properly cured any defaults within the timeframe and in the manner prescribed by the contract, meaning that the sellers, not the builder, were the party not in compliance with the agreement’s demands.
The second factor also favored the builder. The harm that the builder was suffering was irreparable because the lots it contracted to buy from the sellers were unique as the builder “cannot procure a ready supply of lots of a similar quality elsewhere in a reasonable timeframe.” The only alternatives were not suitable for the builder’s building plans or were several years away from closing.
Not only was this harm irreparable, but it also was worse than any negative impact the injunction would have on the sellers. The sellers might lose some profits due to appreciation, but that could be fixed by the builder providing additional security, according to the court.
Finally, nothing about the injunction would run afoul of the public interest, which meant that the builder had all four of the required elements for a preliminary injunction.
Sometimes, just getting a monetary judgment isn’t enough. Whatever relief you need in your contract case, count on the experienced Atlanta commercial contract attorneys at Poole Huffman, LLC to protect your interests and those of your business. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (404) 373-4008 to schedule your confidential consultation today.