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Daniels v. Kelchner

November 20, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Kane


I. Background

Keith Daniels, an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Smithfield (SCI-Smithfield), Pennsylvania, filed this civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on August 8, 2005. The matter proceeds on an amended complaint filed September 5, 2006. (Doc. 31.) Named as Defendants are the following employees at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill, Daniels' former place of confinement: Terrance T. Rosenberger, Lieutenant; Allan J. Webb, Sergeant; and Correctional Officers Ray W. Bloor, Larry Twigg, Jeffrey Alba, Walter Cousins, Anthony J. Alianiello and Derrick A. Zimmerman. Also named as a Defendant is John Amdrade, Hearing Examiner. In the amended complaint Plaintiff alleges that on August 13, 2003, while on his way for blood work, he was subjected to excessive force by Defendants. He claims that he was jumped on, choked, slammed into the ground, punched and kicked at first by Defendants Twigg and Bloor while the others failed to intervene, and thereafter by all of the Defendants, with the exception of Amdrade. He further alleges that he was denied medical treatment for his injuries and issued three (3) false misconduct reports and deprived of due process with regard to the hearings on the reports, all for the purpose of covering up the assault. He further contends that following the assault he was placed in the solitary confinement unit where he was deprived of food and legal/religious materials, as well as subjected to unsanitary conditions.*fn1

Discovery concluded on November 15, 2007. Dispositive motions, if any, are to be filed within thirty (30) days from the close of discovery. Presently pending is Plaintiff's motion for temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction (Doc. 63). The motion is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be denied.

II. Discussion

A. Legal Standard

In his motion for injunctive relief, Plaintiff claims he is being denied proper medical care and treatment by unidentified prison officials at SCI-Smithfield, for injuries resulting from the alleged assault on August 13, 2003, while he was confined at SCI-Camp Hill. Preliminary injunctive relief is extraordinary in nature and should issue in only limited circumstances. See American Tel. and Tel. Co. V. Winback and Conserve Program, Inc., 42 F.3d 1421, 1426-27 (3d Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 514 US. 1103 (1995). Moreover, issuance of such relief is at the discretion of the trial judge. Orson, Inc. v. Miramax Film, Corp., 836 F. Supp. 309, 311 (E.D. Pa. 1993). In determining whether to grant a motion seeking preliminary injunctive relief, courts in the Third Circuit consider the following four factors:

(1) likelihood of success on the merits;

(2) irreparable harm resulting from a denial of relief;

(3) the harm to the non-moving party if relief is granted; and

(4) the public interest.

United States v. Bell, 238 F. Supp. 2d 696, 699 (M.D. Pa. 2003)(internal citations omitted). It is the moving party that bears the burden of satisfying these factors. (Id.).

Perhaps the most important prerequisite for the issuance of a preliminary injunction is a demonstration that if it is not granted, the applicant is likely to suffer irreparable harm before a decision on the merits can be rendered. See Continental Group, Inc. v. Amoco Chems. Corp., 614 F.2d 351, 356 (3d Cir. 1980). Irreparable injury is "potential harm which cannot be redressed by a legal or equitable remedy following a trial." Instant Air Freight Co. v. C.F. Air Freight, Inc., 882 F.2d 797, 801 #d Cir. 1989). A court may not grant preliminary injunctive relief unless "[t]he preliminary injunction [is] the only way of protecting the plaintiff from harm." Id. The relevant inquiry is whether the party moving for the injunctive relief is in danger of suffering the irreparable harm at the time the preliminary injunctive relief is to be issued. Id. Speculative injury does not constitute a showing of irreparable harm. Continental, 614 F.2d at 359; see also Public Serv. Co. v. West Newbury, 835 F.2d 380, 383 (1st Cir. 1987). "The possibility that adequate compensatory or other corrective relief will be available at a later date, in the ordinary course of litigation, weighs heavily against a claim of irreparable harm." Instant Air Freight, 882 F.2d at 801 (quoting Sampson v. Murray, 415 U.S. 61, 90 (1964)). Of course, a prisoner lacks standing to seek injunctive relief if he is no longer subject to the alleged conditions he attempts to challenge. See Weaver v. Wilcox, 650 F.2d 22, 27 n. 13 (3d Cir. 1981)(prisoner's transfer from the prison moots claim for injunctive and declaratory relief ...

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