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Injunction in Defamation Cases

18 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2008 Last revised: 11 Sep 2010

Erwin Chemerinsky

University of California, Irvine School of Law


Is an injunction a permissible remedy in a defamation case? The traditional answer is that equity will not enjoin a defamation, but an increasing number of courts have imposed injunctions in defamation actions. The issue was presented to the United States Supreme Court in Tory v. Cochran, but ultimately, was not decided. The plaintiff in the suit, renowned attorney Johnnie Cochran, died a week after oral argument and the Supreme Court resolved the case on narrow grounds without resolving the question presented as to whether injunctions are permissible in defamation cases. The issue is now pending before the California Supreme Court in Balboa Island Village Inn v. Lemen.

The issue is sure to recur across the country. Individuals defamed in a blog or on the internet are likely to turn to the courts and seek injunctions. Perhaps damages will be unavailable as the defendant will not have assets or maybe the plaintiff will just want the false, injurious speech to stop. Can a court issue an injunction?

That is the focus of this article. In addressing this question, the first part of the article recounts the facts of Tory to provide a context for analyzing the issue. The second part of the article explains why injunctions never should be allowed as a remedy in defamation cases.

Suggested Citation

Chemerinsky, Erwin, Injunction in Defamation Cases. Syracuse Law Review, Vol. 57, p. 157, 2006-2007; UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2008-08. Available at SSRN:

Erwin Chemerinsky (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

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