Does every lawsuit demand money from the opposing party?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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There are many lawsuits filed by plaintiffs that seek compensation in the form of money for damages caused by the acts of others. These include lawsuits seeking awards for personal injuries, damages to property or breach of contract. In these cases, money damages are typically sought to make a person who is injured “whole”, or to give a party to a contract that has been breached the benefit they would have received had the contract been honored by the other party, sometimes called the “benefit of the bargain.”

There are, however, many lawsuits filed that do not as an end result seek a monetary award. Criminal cases are brought, of course, to punish those who violate the state’s criminal laws. Lawsuits are filed by couples seeking a divorce, to resolve questions of child custody or to adopt a child. Suits may also be initiated to resolve disputes over property boundaries or title or to request injunctive relief to stop someone from taking an action or even force them to do so. In fact, in 2004 a lawsuit was filed to determine who would be the next President of the United States.

In addition, many lawsuits are filed which in effect request that the court mandate or prohibit a specific behavior from the other party. These types of lawsuits request that the court issue what is called an “injunction.” An injunction often begins with a temporary restraining order, temporarily preventing a party from acting in some way that may harm another party for a limited period of time until the court holds a hearing. During the hearing, if the aggrieved (harmed) party is able to show the court that they are likely to win an injunction, the court may issue what is called a preliminary injunction. 

After a preliminary injunction is issued, the court may issue a permanent injunction. A permanent injunction typically consists of an order of the court that a party cease a particular action or refrain from acting in a certain way, in order to stop or prevent harm to the other party. The court may order what is called a negative injunction, stopping a certain action, but is very unlikely to order a party to act in a certain manner, called a “mandatory injunction,” because it would be difficult for the court to enforce such an injunction. 

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