In 1982, the New Jersey Supreme Court in the oft-cited decision Crowe v. DeGioia, 90 N.J. 126 (1982), set forth the factors Courts should consider when petitioned for injunctive relief. For the past thirty-plus years, litigants arguing in favor of the issuance of an interlocutory injunction asserted their clients have demonstrated by “clear and convincing evidence” that: (1) there is no adequate remedy at law and the irreparable harm to be suffered in the absence of injunctive relief is substantial and imminent; (2) there is a reasonable probability of success on the merits; (3) the equities and hardships favors injunctive relief; and (4) the public interest will not be harmed. Id. at 520; McKenzie v. Corzine, 396 N.J. Super. 405, 414 (App. Div. 2007).
Often parties opposing an Order to Show Cause seeking injunctive relief will assert that the moving parties’ cases are in dispute and therefore the movant has not demonstrated by “clear and convincing evidence” that they are entitled to injunctive relief.
Recently, the Appellate Division was asked to decide whether or not a Trial Court Judge’s decision not to award injunctive relief which would have maintained the status quo during the pendency of the litigation because that Judge believed the movant did not demonstrate it would ultimately prevail was an error. Waste Management of New Jersey, Inc. v. Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority, 433 N.J. Super. 445 (App. Div. 2013). The Waste Management Court held it did. In doing so, the New Jersey Appellate Division set forth a less rigid test than the approach articulated by the Crowe decision. “This less rigid approach…permits injunctive relief preserving the status quo even if the claim appears to be doubtful when a balancing of the relative hardships substantially favors the movant, or the irreparable injury to be suffered by the movant in the absence of the injunction would be imminent and grave, or the subject matter of the suit would be impaired or destroyed.” Id. at 454.
The Waste Management decision provides New Jersey litigants with two potential arguments when seeking injunctive relief. Litigants can still argue that they are entitled to injunctive relief because they satisfy each of the factors set forth in Crowe. As a result of the Waste Management decision they may also argue they are entitled to injunctive relief to maintain the “status quo.”
Over the years, I have represented numerous minority shareholders whose employment was terminated by the majority. In an effort to further “oppress” the minority in violation of New Jersey’s minority oppression statute the majority will often terminate the minority’s income and benefits. I have successfully filed applications seeking to reinstate the minority’s employment, income and benefits. Prior to the Waste Management decision, I was required to demonstrate each of the factors articulated by the Crowe decision. I believe the Waste Management decision will give my clients an additional argument in favor of injunctive relief reinstating their employment, benefits and income because I will also be able to argue that to do so would be to maintain the “status quo.”