The law gives its strivers an odd sense of reality. That goes double for those who work the courtroom.
You may put blood, sweat, and tears into a case for years, pressing to show and persuade the trier of fact that Thing A happened and that Fact A exists — and contrarily that Thing B didn't occur and that Fact B never lived.
But you don't KNOW. And you won't KNOW until the fact-trier finds the facts. Then you think, WOW, what a total vindication (or repudiation)! My side's view of the cruel and random universe won (or lost) this time! Woo-hoo!
The Ninth Circuit today — 28 months after the fact — pronounced that an order had died the day of its birth.
The panel held that a preliminary injunction shuffled off the judicial coil when the district court entered final judgment on the same day. That the trial judge failed to say what effect the final judgment had on the preliminary injunctioned mattered not. By the nature of things — the panel said "ipso facto" — the final judgment dissolved the preliminary injunction, which exists solely to preserve the status quo until final judgment and therefore cannot ever survive the entry of one. U.S. Philips Corp. v. KBC Bank N.V., No. 08-56296, slip op. at 930 (9th Cir. Jan. 12, 2010).
The court also concluded that an order purporting to modify the non-extant preliminary injunction had no more effect than the preliminary injunction had post-final judgment existence. "A district court cannot prospectively modify a preliminary injunction that is not in effect," the Ninth Circuit said. Id. at 931.