William Inglis & Sons
526 F.2d 86 (9th Cir. 1976)
Yeazell, pp. 364-366
Facts: Some baking companies sued some of their competitors in an antitrust action. One plaintiff moved for a preliminary injunction. The district court denied the injunction. The plaintiff appealed.
Issue: Did the district court apply the correct test in denying a preliminary injunction?
Rule: A grant or denial of a preliminary injunction can only be reversed on appeal if the trial court either was wrong as a matter of law or abused its discretion.
Analysis: The district court denied a preliminary injunction because it found that it was uncertain that the plaintiffs would win at trial. However, there is an alternative test which allows a preliminary injunction even when the chance that the plaintiff will win is uncertain. Under that test, there need only be a “fair chance of success on the merits” so long as the damage that the plaintiff may suffer is “sufficiently serious”. The Court of Appeals finds that the district court needs to consider this test as well as the one it actually applied.
Conclusion: The court reverses and remands in order for the trial court to consider the alternative test.
Notes and Problems
1. Maybe the preliminary injunction was really sought in order to try to get the defendants to settle. The process of trying to get the preliminary injunction took so long that it seems ridiculous to have sought “preliminary” relief. The lawyer must have said that the baker would go out of business if the competitors weren’t forced to change their behavior right away.
2. The first test is an “and” test, while the second test is a broader “or” test. More plaintiffs will get preliminary injunctions under the second test than the first.