Norman Gaume filed a lawsuit claiming that the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission had violated the Open Meetings Act, and asked for an injunction against a committee created by the Commission from taking any further action on certain matters related to the Gila River in southwestern New Mexico.
The district court granted a TRO, but did not require the plaintiff to post an injunction bond because he said he could only afford a $500 bond. A little over a month later, the TRO was dissolved. Later, after the Commission largely won on the merits, the district court awarded it over $35,000 in attorney’s fees for its efforts to dissolve the TRO.
In Gaume v. New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (opinion by Judge Vanzi), the Court of Appeals held that a wrongfully enjoined defendant cannot recover damages in the absence of an injunction bond. The Court traced the history of injunctions, and explained that there is no common-law action for wrongful injunction. And no statute or rule provides for such a claim.
Therefore, if the district court has not required the plaintiff to post an injunction bond, then the wrongfully enjoined defendant’s sole recourse is to file an independent action against the plaintiff for malicious abuse of process. (Such claims are, however, exceedingly difficult to win in New Mexico).
Side note: My favorite appellate opinions are those which explain the historical and common-law backgrounds of principles of law, so I found this to be an enjoyable read.