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Delaware Chancery Court Says Religious Leaders’ Challenge to COVID Orders Was Filed in Wrong Court

In In re Covid Related Restrictions on Religious Services, (Del. Ch., Nov. 22, 2022), the Delaware Court of Chancery held that a challenge by religious leaders to now-lifted Covid-related restrictions on religious services should be brought in Superior Court, not in Delaware’s Chancery Court which is limited to providing equitable relief. The state’s other courts are capable of awarding damages and issuing a declaratory judgment. In reaching that conclusion, however, the court modified the test it has traditionally used to determine whether to grant a permanent injunction. The court said that in order to obtain a permanent injunction, as opposed to a TRO or preliminary injunction, petitioner must only show that remedies at law would be inadequate. Threat of irreparable harm is one way, but not the only way, to show this. The court went on, however, to conclude:

[W]hen a plaintiff seeks to ground equitable jurisdiction on the potential need for a permanent injunction, the pled facts must support a reasonable apprehension that the defendant will act in a manner that will necessitate the injunction’s issuance. Under the reasonable-apprehension test, a plaintiff’s subjective fears are not sufficient. There must be objectively good reasons to think that a permanent injunction will be warranted. The plaintiffs have not pled facts that make it reasonably conceivable that the Governor will re-impose the Challenged Restrictions.

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