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Meekins v. Colleran

July 25, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Kosik


I. Introduction

This civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 proceeds on an amended complaint and several supplements thereto. (Docs. 17, 19, 24-26.) The Plaintiff is William Meekins, an inmate confined at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill, Pennsylvania (SCI-Camp Hill). The remaining Defendants are the following former or current employees at the State Correctional Institution at Waymart, Pennsylvania: Raymond Colleran, former Superintendent; Larry Ellette and Dave Bowan, correctional officers; Donald J. Jones, Hearing Examiner; Joseph Nish, former Deputy of Central Services; Paul Delrosso, former Deputy of Program Management and Michael Klopotoski, former Deputy Superintendent of Facilities Management.

The procedural posture of this case is as follows. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint which was granted in part and denied in part on August 29, 2006. The defendants referenced above are those that remain in the action following the court's resolution of said motion to dismiss. An answer to the amended complaint was thereafter filed on October 19, 2006. (Doc. 64.) The parties thereafter began to engage in discovery. On August 15, 2007, the parties were granted an enlargement of a previously imposed discovery deadline, and directed to complete all discovery within sixty (60) days. They were further directed to file any dispositive motions within thirty (30) days of the new discovery deadline. (Doc. 88.) Presently pending are the following motions: (1) Plaintiff's filing entitled "Motion for Judgment" (Doc. 99); (2) Plaintiff's 5th Motion for Appointment of Counsel (Doc. 102); (3) Plaintiff's Motion for Compensatory Sanctions and Exercise of Jurisdiction (Doc. 104); (4) Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 109); and (5) Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Doc. 114).

II. Background

The allegations as set forth by Plaintiff in his amended complaint and supplements thereto are set forth in full in the Memorandum and Order of August 29, 2006, wherein this court granted in part and denied in part Defendants' motion to dismiss. The court will only set forth Plaintiff's allegations with regard to those claims which presently remain. In early December of 2004, while confined at SCI- Waymart, Plaintiff claims he was told to pack his belongings and walk down to the Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU"). He thereafter became involved in a verbal exchange with Defendant Ellette. He was ultimately placed in restraints and escorted to the RHU by Defendants Ellette and Bowen. Upon his arrival, Plaintiff claims he was assaulted by the two officers who allegedly slammed his face and chest into the RHU door. Plaintiff also claims that Bowen caused him to step on Ellette's toe. Following a disciplinary hearing on misconduct charges issued against Plaintiff for assaulting Ellette, Plaintiff was sanctioned to disciplinary confinement in a camera cell for six (6) months where he contends the conditions were cruel and unusual. He states that his underwear, soap, linens and toilet paper were confiscated, all in retaliation and for purposes of punishment by the Defendants. He further maintains that he was later transferred on November 16, 2005, from SCI-Waymart to the SuperMax Unit at SCI-Camp Hill pursuant to a secret deal made between the Defendants, all in retaliation for Plaintiff's use of the prison administrative grievance process at SCI-Waymart. As relief, Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.

III. Discussion

A. Motion for Counsel

To date, the court has entertained four (4) requests filed by Plaintiff seeking the appointment of counsel in this case. Presently pending is his 5th request for counsel (Doc. 102). Without unnecessary elaboration, the court has previously set forth the standard to be utilized in addressing a motion for counsel in a civil rights action and it will not be reiterated herein. All parties are more than familiar with the factors to be considered by the court. (Docs. 23, 56 and 88.) In his pending motion, Plaintiff again asserts many of the same arguments that have been previously rejected. The court finds Plaintiff to be literate and fully capable of litigating this action on his own. The docket reveals his ability to prepare and file motions. He has even succeeded in opposing part of Defendants' motion to dismiss his amended complaint. While he argues that he is being denied access to the court and needs an attorney to submit pleadings on his behalf, the docket reveals otherwise. Plaintiff is having no trouble submitting filings to this court. Further, any access to the courts claims Plaintiff may have would be litigated through the filing of a separate lawsuit. Plaintiff's additional concerns regarding actions he fears Defendants "may take" against him at a later date also do not warrant the appointment of counsel. While he claims Defendants have threatened to throw his legal materials away and place him in segregation, such fears are speculative. Accordingly, his motion for counsel will be denied without prejudice.

B. Motion for Preliminary Injunction

In the pending motion for preliminary injunction (Doc. 114), Plaintiff sets forth complaints about the conditions of confinement at SCI-Camp Hill. He claims that he is not receiving adequate medical/dental care, and that he is not being properly channeled through the program levels of the Special Management Unit.

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 U.S. 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 ...

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