temporary restraining order (TRO)

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Temporary restraining orders (TROs) are a type of short-term injunction issued to prevent a party from taking a certain action until the court is able to issue a more enduring order, such as a preliminary injunction. TROs are a type of equitable remedy. 

In federal court, civil litigants can request a TRO pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65. Under Rule 65, the court can issue a TRO without notice to the adversely affected party if the plaintiff shows specific facts showing immediate and irreparable injury and why notice is not necessary. For example, in Matter of Vuitton et Fils, the Second Circuit directed the district court to issue a TRO to prevent counterfeit sales of Vuitton handbags. Federal courts will only issue TROs in limited circumstances, and the U.S. Supreme Court in Granny Goose Foods, Inc. v. Teamsters remarked that they are “no doubt necessary in certain circumstances, but under federal law they should be restricted to serving their underlying purpose of preserving the status quo and preventing irreparable harm just so long as is necessary to hold a hearing, and no longer.”

State courts also often issue TROs to prevent contact between parties, where the defendants’ actions could seriously harm the plaintiffs. For example, California Code of Civil Procedure § 527.6 states, “[a] person who has suffered harassment as defined in [by this statute] may seek a temporary restraining order and an order after hearing prohibiting harassment as provided in this section.” 

[Last updated in November of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]