The Court recently clarified an important issue of civil procedure – the precise point at which a court may consolidate a preliminary injunction hearing with a hearing on the merits.
Rule 65 of the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a court may consolidate a preliminary injunction hearing with a trial on the merits “[b]efore or after the commencement of the hearing of an application for a preliminary injunction.” In McKeeman v. Duchaine, the Law Court held that, if a court is to consolidate the hearing and trial, it must do so before the preliminary injunction hearing concludes.
In McKeeman, tenants filed a complaint alleging that their landlord had violated various Maine statutes. After a preliminary injunction hearing, the court granted the tenants’ motion in part, but denied a request to order the landlord to pay for temporary lodging. Later, after the landlord failed to timely answer the complaint, the court denied the tenants’ motion