In a case demonstrating limits to injunctive relief, in the environmental context a Mississippi federal court denied a request for a temporary restraining order because the plaintiff did not show he would suffer irreparable harm when he relied on conclusory statements about the harm he faced, nor did he show that monetary damages could not make him sufficiently whole. Miller v. Mississippi Resources, LLC, No. 5:17-cv-41-DCB-MTP (S.D. Miss. June 26, 2017).
The defendant is an oil production company that had access to the plaintiff landowner’s property for oil and gas production and the use of a saltwater pipeline. The landowner sued as a result of defendant’s alleged contamination of the land, claiming negligence, negligence per se, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The plaintiff sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prohibit the oil company from entering and continuing operations on his property unless the oil company were there for the clean-up, restoration, and/or payment of damages. The oil company moved to dismiss the count requesting injunctive relief. The landowner responded seeking an immediate order restraining the defendant from operating its saltwater disposal well.
To support his request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, the plaintiff needed to demonstrate a substantial threat of irreparable injury if the injunctive relief were not granted. To demonstrate irreparable harm, the plaintiff needed to show that there is no adequate remedy at law (i.e. monetary damages) available. The court rejected the plaintiff’s request based on the plaintiff’s failure to demonstrate a substantial threat of irreparable harm. The plaintiff only made conclusory statements about the threat of irreparable harm and failed to show that the monetary damages he sought.