Brief Fact Summary. Smith (Plaintiff) appeals an order dismissing his petition on the ground it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiff’s petition sought an injunction to prevent his employer from exposing him to tobacco smoke in the workplace and from affecting his pay or employment conditions because of his medical reaction to tobacco smoke.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Injunctive relief is available if irreparable harm is likely to result and a plaintiff has no adequate remedy at law.
An injunction may issue "to prevent the doing of any legal wrong whatever, whenever in the opinion of the court an adequate remedy cannot be afforded by an action for damages."View Full Point of Law
Issue. Whether Plaintiff’s allegations entitle him to injunctive relief?
Held. Yes. Plaintiff should be allowed the opportunity to prove his allegations. Injunctive relief is available if a plaintiff’s allegations invoke principles of law entitling him to relief, irreparable harm is likely to result if not granted, and there is no adequate remedy at law available. Here, an employer owes a duty to their employees to provide a reasonably safe work place and to protect employees from avoidable peril. Plaintiff’s petition adequately shows that the tobacco smoke of co-workers smoking in the work place is hazardous to the health of employees. The petition further demonstrates that Defendant knew the tobacco smoke was harmful to Plaintiff’s health and Defendant has the authority, ability, and reasonable means to control smoking in the workplace. Thus, Defendant has breached his duty to provide a reasonably safe workplace. Exposure to smoke in the workplace causes irreparable harm. This is a harm for which money damages cannot adequately compensate a plaintiff. Plaintiffs should not be required to await the fruition of harm before he is entitled to seek an inadequate remedy. Therefore, the injunction is the appropriate remedy.
Discussion. Permanent injunctions directly order defendants to either take action or to cease action. Monetary damages provide recovery for past harms, while injunctions prevent future harms from occurring. The purpose of an injunction is to provide a remedy when there is no available remedy at law. The effect of injunctions is that a defendant who violates an injunction may be liable for civil or criminal contempt.