Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Swinging for the fences but striking out: requesting a preliminary injunction under Law 75 and not getting it may taint the outcome on the merits

I’ve written before that the traditional requirements for preliminary injunctive relief under FRCP 65 are mandatory and preempt Law 75 if read to allow the granting of a preliminary injunction without a showing of irreparable harm. It’s not an Erie issue, but a Hanna v. Plummer issue, which holds that the federal civil rules preempt state substantive law when in conflict.

It does not matter, ruled a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Penn Shoppe v. Montblanc North America, No. 08-1939(JAG/BJM)(April 1, 2009), for the supplier in that case met its burden of showing just cause for termination. In that case the line represented over 40% of the retailer’s business. After an evidentiary hearing, the Magistrate found that the retailer’s consistently late payments, purchases over the credit limit and bounced or postdated checks- practices that were not condoned by the supplier in the regular course of dealings-did not alter the established payment terms. In sum, the Magistrate concluded that the movant had not established a likelihood of success on the merits for a preliminary injunction under Law 75.

On July 31st, the court adopted the Magistrate's Report and Recommendation in its entirety.

About my comment that a denial of a preliminary injunction may taint the final outcome, my point is that parties should evaluate carefully the likelihood of success on the merits of their claims before moving for interim relief (attachments or injunctions). While it is true that a court's findings at the preliminary injunction stage are not binding on the merits, a court's conclusion on whether the requirement of likelihood of success has been met, unless reversed on appeal, may influence that court's disposition of the case especially in the context of a motion for summary judgment or after a bench trial.