Consideration of injunctions are generally governed by Chapter 500, Title 15 of the Maryland Rules.
Within those Rules, 15-501 defines two general types of injunctions: Temporary Restraining Orders (“TRO”) and Preliminary Injunctions (“PI”), with the primary difference being that TROs may be granted “without opportunity for a full adversary hearing,” whereas PIs may be granted after such a hearing, but generally “before a final determination of the merits of the action.”
Although not explicitly defined, the Rules also contemplate a third type of injunction: a “permanent” one, issued after a determination of the merits of a particular issue or claim.
Rule 15-505(b) reflects this option, as it allows courts to consolidate determination on the merits of any or all issues, either “before or after commencement of the hearing on the preliminary injunction.”
In effect, such a determination issues a “permanent” injunction, contrasted with the limited timeframes of a TRO and PI. See Maloof v. Dep’t of Environment, 767 A.2d 372, 378 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2001) (“An “injunction” is defined in Md. Rule 15-501(a) as “an order mandating or prohibiting a specified act.” But, a permanent injunction is not “permanent” in the sense that it must last indefinitely. Rather, it “is one granted by the judgment which finally disposes of the injunction suit.” [ … ] The difference, then, between a preliminary injunction and an injunction turns on “whether there has been a determination on the merits of the claim. If that determination has been made, then the injunction may be final; if not, it is interlocutory.”).
The decision on whether to consolidate consideration of the merits with any hearing conducted responding to requests for injunctive relief is committed to the discretion of trial courts. State Dep’t of Health & Mental Hygiene v. Baltimore County, 281 Md. 548, 554 (Md. 1977).
Once such a decision has been made, the dispositive factors to be applied are those relating to the substantive legal issues before the court, not the ordinary factors linked to issuance of preliminary or interlocutory injunctions. See Colandrea v. Wilde Lake, 761 A.2d 899, 911-912 (Md. 2000) (“The injunction ordered by the trial court was, therefore, a permanent injunction. The requirements for the imposition of an interlocutory injunction do not apply.”); Id., at fn 7 (“Accordingly, the essential requirements necessary for the issuance of an interlocutory injunction are not relevant. The requirements for the issuance of a permanent injunction to enforce contract, i.e., rights under covenants, are based primarily on contract law except as modified by our cases.”).
Moreover, “permanent” injunctions, as with any final determination on the merits, may act as final judgments on specific issues, and can accordingly substantively determine parties’ rights, even to the extent of prohibiting them from filing separate law suits or pursuing determined claims. Maryland Com’n on Human Relations v. Downey Communications, Inc., 110 Md.App. 493 (Md. App. 1995) (reinforcing trial court has authority to issue injunction to prohibit party from filing separate lawsuit).
Numerous other authorities further reinforce this flexibility, authorizing courts to accelerate and separate merits’ determinations with the sole restraints being considerations of due process. See, e.g., Md. Rules 2-502 (on motion or its own initiative, a court “at any stage of any action” may address a question “that is within the sole province of the court to decide, whether or not the action is triable by a jury, and if it would be convenient to have the question decided before proceeding further”) (emphasis added); 2-503 (courts may consolidate or separate trials of claims based upon common questions of law, fact, or subject matter).