University of Texas v. Camenisch, No. 80-317

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtSTEWART
Citation101 S.Ct. 1830,451 U.S. 390,68 L.Ed.2d 175
PartiesUNIVERSITY OF TEXAS et al., Petitioners, v. Walter CAMENISCH
Decision Date29 April 1981
Docket NumberNo. 80-317

451 U.S. 390
101 S.Ct. 1830
68 L.Ed.2d 175
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS et al., Petitioners,

v.

Walter CAMENISCH.

No. 80-317.
Argued March 31, 1981.
Decided April 29, 1981.

Syllabus

Respondent, a deaf graduate student at petitioner University, filed a complaint in Federal District Court, alleging that the University had violated § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by discriminatorily refusing to pay for a sign-language interpreter for respondent, and declaratory and injunctive relief was sought. Finding a possibility that respondent would be irreparably harmed in the absence of an injunction and that he was likely to prevail on the merits, the District Court, inter alia, granted a preliminary injunction on the condition that respondent post a security bond pending the outcome of the litigation. The Court of Appeals affirmed the grant of the injunction. In the meantime, the University had obeyed the injunction by paying for respondent's interpreter and respondent had been graduated, but the Court of Appeals rejected a suggestion that the case was moot, noting that the issue of who should bear the cost of the interpreter remained to be decided.

Held: The question whether a preliminary injunction should have been issued is moot because the terms of the injunction have been fully and irrevocably carried out, but, as the Court of Appeals correctly noted, the question whether the University must pay for the interpreter remains for trial on the merits. Pp. 393-398.

(a) To suggest that the decisions of the courts below, to the extent that they considered respondent's likelihood of success on the merits in granting a preliminary injunction, were tantamount to decisions on the underlying merits and thus that the preliminary-injunction issue is not truly moot, improperly equates "likelihood of success" with "success" and ignores the significant procedural differences between preliminary and permanent injunctions. P. 394.

(b) Where a federal district court has granted a preliminary injunction, the parties generally will have had the benefit neither of a full opportunity to present their cases nor of a final judicial decision based on the actual merits of the controversy. Thus, when the injunctive aspects of a case become moot on appeal of a preliminary injunction, any issue preserved by an injunction bond can generally not be resolved on appeal, but must be resolved in a trial on the merits. By contrast, where a federal district court has granted a permanent injunction, the

Page 391

parties will already have had their trial on the merits, and even if the case would otherwise be moot, a determination can be had on appeal of the correctness of the trial court's decision on the merits, since the case has been saved from mootness by the injunction bond. Pp. 395-398.

616 F.2d 127 (5th Cir.) vacated and remanded.

Lonny F. Zwiener, Austin, Tex., for petitioners.

Stephen J. Pollak, Washington, D. C., for respondent.

Peter Buscemi, Washington, D. C., for United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court.

Justice STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.

On March 1, 1978, Walter Camenisch, a deaf graduate student at the University of Texas, filed a complaint alleg-

Page 392

ing that the University had violated § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 87 Stat. 394, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (1976 ed., Supp. III), which provides that "[n]o otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of his handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." The complaint alleged that the University received federal funds and that the University had discriminatorily refused to pay for a sign-language interpreter for Camenisch. The complaint asked the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas to grant declaratory relief and to "[p]reliminarily and permanently order defendants to appoint an interpreter for the plaintiff while he is a student in good standing at the defendant University."

The District Court applied the "Fifth Circuit standard for temporary relief to see if the injunction sought is appropriate." That standard, which was enunciated in Canal Authority of Florida v. Callaway, 489 F.2d 567 (1974), requires that a federal district court consider four factors when deciding whether to grant a preliminary injunction: whether the plaintiff will be irreparably harmed if the injunction does not issue; whether the defendant will be harmed if the injunction does issue; whether the public interest will be served by the injunction; and whether the plaintiff is likely to prevail on the merits. Finding a possibility that Camenisch would be irreparably harmed in the absence of an injunction, and finding a substantial likelihood that Camenisch would prevail on the merits, the District Court granted a preliminary injunction requiring that the University pay for Camenisch's interpreter, but the court did so on the condition that Camenisch "post a security bond in the amount of $3,000.00 pending the outcome of this litigation pursuant to Rule 65(c), F. R. C. P." The District Court also ordered that the action be stayed "pending a final administrative determination on the merits, and that as a condition of preliminary injunctive relief, Plain-

Page 393

tiff be required to initiate a complaint with HEW requesting the relief sought herein."

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit likewise applied the Canal Authority test, and found that the balance of hardships weighed in favor of granting an injunction and that Camenisch's claim would be successful on the merits. The Court of Appeals therefore affirmed the grant of the preliminary injunction. 616 F.2d 127. The appellate court ruled, however, that Camenisch was not obligated to pursue any administrative remedy that the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare 1 might provide, and it therefore vacated that part of the District Court's order staying the litigation pending administrative action.

By the time the Court of Appeals had acted, the University had obeyed the injunction by paying for Camenisch's interpreter, and Camenisch had been graduated. The Court of Appeals, however, rejected a suggestion that the case was therefore moot. The court said: "[A] justiciable issue remains: whose responsibility is it to pay for this interpreter?" Id., at 130-131. We granted certiorari, 449 U.S. 950, 101 S.Ct. 352, 66 L.Ed.2d 213, and Camenisch has now raised the mootness issue before this Court.

The Court of Appeals correctly held that the case as a whole is not moot, since, as that court noted, it remains to be decided who should ultimately bear the cost of the interpreter. However, the issue before the Court of Appeals was not who should pay for the interpreter, but rather whether the District Court had abused its discretion in issuing a preliminary injunction requiring the University to pay for him. Brown v. Chote, 411 U.S. 452, 457, 93 S.Ct. 1732, 1735, 36 L.Ed.2d 420; Alabama v. United States, 279 U.S. 229, 49 S.Ct. 266, 73 L.Ed. 675. The two issues are...

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2593 practice notes
  • Pampered Chef v. Alexanian, No. 10 C 1399.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois
    • July 14, 2011
    ...injunction and resolution of a case on the merits involve “significantly different” inquiries. University of Texas v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 393, 101 S.Ct. 1830, 68 L.Ed.2d 175 (1981). Since “[t]he purpose of a preliminary injunction is merely to preserve the relative positions of the par......
  • Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. England, No. 05-5143.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 7, 2006
    ...is merely to preserve the relative positions of the parties until a trial on the merits can be held." Univ. of Tex. v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 395, 101 S.Ct. 1830, 68 L.Ed.2d 175 (1981). It is "an extraordinary remedy that should be granted only when the party seeking the relief, by a clea......
  • Johnson v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, No. 83-7059
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • June 18, 1984
    ...of the merits with a reminder that we are only discussing Page 782 the "likelihood" of success. See University of Texas v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 394, 101 S.Ct. 1830, 1833, 68 L.Ed.2d 175 (1981). Our ruling on the preliminary injunction, as with the district court's fact finding at the pr......
  • Amoco Production Company v. Village of Gambell, Alaska Hodel v. Village of Gambell, Nos. 85-1239 and 85-1406
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 24, 1987
    ...the plaintiff must show a likelihood of success on the merits rather than actual success. See, e.g., University of Texas v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 392, 101 S.Ct. 1830, 1832, 68 L.Ed.2d 175 (1981). Despite the preliminary nature of the proceeding, the record before the District Court was c......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2559 cases
  • Pampered Chef v. Alexanian, No. 10 C 1399.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois
    • July 14, 2011
    ...injunction and resolution of a case on the merits involve “significantly different” inquiries. University of Texas v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 393, 101 S.Ct. 1830, 68 L.Ed.2d 175 (1981). Since “[t]he purpose of a preliminary injunction is merely to preserve the relative positions of the par......
  • Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. England, No. 05-5143.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 7, 2006
    ...is merely to preserve the relative positions of the parties until a trial on the merits can be held." Univ. of Tex. v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 395, 101 S.Ct. 1830, 68 L.Ed.2d 175 (1981). It is "an extraordinary remedy that should be granted only when the party seeking the relief, by a clea......
  • Johnson v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, No. 83-7059
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • June 18, 1984
    ...of the merits with a reminder that we are only discussing Page 782 the "likelihood" of success. See University of Texas v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 394, 101 S.Ct. 1830, 1833, 68 L.Ed.2d 175 (1981). Our ruling on the preliminary injunction, as with the district court's fact finding at the pr......
  • Amoco Production Company v. Village of Gambell, Alaska Hodel v. Village of Gambell, Nos. 85-1239 and 85-1406
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 24, 1987
    ...the plaintiff must show a likelihood of success on the merits rather than actual success. See, e.g., University of Texas v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 392, 101 S.Ct. 1830, 1832, 68 L.Ed.2d 175 (1981). Despite the preliminary nature of the proceeding, the record before the District Court was c......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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