On February 10, a hearing was held on Leaf's motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) in its lawsuit against the Industry Summit. At the hearing, basically, Leaf asked the court to allow it to attend the 2014 Industry Summit in March.
The state court judge denied Leaf's motion.
Now, a TRO is an extraordinary remedy so it is hard to obtain. The party that files such a motion, in essence, asks the judge to award it an early win before the case really begins. There's a high burden of proof and the party bringing the motion must prove, among other things, that it is "likely to succeed on the merits" of the case and to show that it is being "irreparably harmed" (i.e., harmed in such a manner that money will not make it whole).
What does the denial of this motion mean for Leaf? Well, that's a tough one. Simply because Leaf lost the motion does not mean it will lose the case. And the court did not issue a written order explaining why the motion was denied, so assessing a "winner" and "loser" is difficult.
Legal translation: Let's say the court denied the motion, and in doing so held that although Leaf was "likely to win on the merits," it could not prove that it was "irreparably harmed" (i.e., money could make it whole). Leaf then would have lost the motion, however, the court's ruling would be a good indicator that Leaf could "likely" win its case. If, on the other hand, the court said Leaf was "unlikely to win on the merits"…well, that doesn't need a legal translation.
This type of information is what's included in a written order. So, without a little help from the judge, I can't say who is in the lead.
I can say that with the denial of the motion, however, the Summit notches the first win in this battle. And that unless Leaf files a motion for a preliminary injunction (where it'll face the same hurdles), it's likely a foregone conclusion that Leaf will not be in attendance at the Industry Summit.
Of note, a few days after the state court denied Leaf's motion, the Summit moved the case to federal court.
Legal translation: A defendant can move a case from state court to federal court by just filing a piece of paper. And that's what the Summit did.
The Summit's move confuses me. The state court judge ruled in its favor for the TRO. Why then move the case to a different court with an unknown judge?
Sure, there are a number of additional items to consider before moving a case to federal court, but if your current judge already likes you, your case and your arguments, stick around!
Unless, at the hearing, the court indicated Leaf was "likely to succeed on the merits," and he was denying the motion because "money would make Leaf whole."
But now we're getting into the land of speculation. Man, I wish the judge would have issued a written order. This is even less likely now that the case has been moved to federal court.
I contacted Leaf and the Industry Summit about the order, but both declined to comment.
Which is wise. As an attorney, I tell all of my clients to say "no comment." Not just because it's fun, but because rarely anything good can come of it.
Legal Aside: I really should do a better job of asking people for comments. Now, pretty much every time I do, I always say something like, "If you were my client, I'd tell you not to." To which everyone predictably says, "No comment." I better stop doing that!
Anyway, what's next in this case? We could see a little more action if Leaf wants to try and remand the case back to state court, or if Leaf wants to take a run at the new judge to see if it could obtain a different ruling on another TRO-ish type motion. But in all likelihood, the case is going to progress into discovery. Both sides will start collecting evidence and building their case, but since these actions are typically done outside of the court's docket, it'll be screened from the public's view.
Unless a dispute breaks out that is.
So, in all likelihood, this case will quiet down for a bit. Almost certainly until after the Summit takes place.
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