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Harris v. Hershey Medical Center

December 18, 2008


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

Magistrate Judge Smyser


Before the Court is Terry Harris' ("Harris") pro se motion seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction (Doc. No. 16), Magistrate Judge J. Andrew Smyser's Report and Recommendation ("R&R") denying the motion (Doc. No. 37), Harris' objections to the R&R (Doc. No. 43), and Defendants' response to Harris' objections (Doc. No. 45). For the reasons that follow, the Court will overrule Harris' objections, adopt the R&R, and remand the case to Judge Smyser for further proceedings.


In the interest of economy, the Court incorporates by reference the uncontested background and procedural history of the case as presented in the R&R. (Doc. No. 37, at 1-5). The necessary background for purposes of this memorandum is set out as follows in Judge Smyser's R&R:

The plaintiff alleges that on December 5, 2007, unknown medical personnel from the Hershey Medical Center Orthopaedic Department faxed forged/false medical documents to defendant Coolbaugh of the Adams County Domestic Relations Office. One of the documents stated that the plaintiff could not work, but the other two documents stated that the plaintiff could do sedentary work. On December 6, 2007, the documents were introduced as evidence against the plaintiff at a child support contempt hearing. Judge Bingham believed that the plaintiff had been lying about his inability to work and found the plaintiff in contempt.... [At a meeting with his primary care giver, Dr. Mark Knaub,] Dr. Knaub apologized for the false medical documents that were sent to the Adams County Domestic Relations Office and he... wrote a letter... explaining the error.... The plaintiff introduced the letter written by Dr. Knaub at a hearing to try to have his child support obligation reduced and to have a stay placed on his duty to pay until after his social security appeal is decided. The plaintiff's requests were denied.



The Magistrates Act, 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b), provide that any party may file written objections to a magistrate's proposed findings and recommendations. In deciding whether to accept, reject or modify the R&R, the Court is to make a de novo determination of those portions of the R&R to which objection is made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

A. Adams County Adult Correctional Complex

Harris' motion sought some form of preliminary injunction against Adams County Adult Correctional Complex, as he claims to have not been provided with certain prescribed physical therapy. In his R&R, Judge Smyser denies this request as moot on the basis that Harris informed the Court that he was no longer incarcerated at the facility. (Doc. No. 37 at 7.) Harris does not appear to object to this determination, asking the Court only to "deny the magistrate recommendation [sic] of not placing a temporary restraining order against the Adams County Domestic Relations." This is further confirmed by Harris' brief in support of his objections, where he offers no argument against this determination. Having reviewed the record and legal authority cited in the report and recommendation, the Court agrees with Judge Smyser's determination that this issue is moot.

B. Domestic Relations

Harris has objected to Judge Smyser's determination that the Plaintiff has not shown a reasonable probability of success on the merits of his claims against the Domestic Relations Defendants. In his objection, Harris sets forth a short definition of substantive and procedural due process, and states "[i]f I am incarcerated their [sic] will not be any appeal hearing for social security disability, because I will not be eligible for it while incarcerated." (Doc. No. 44 ¶ 9.) He goes on to argue that "[i]f I have documents from my caregivers telling you [sic] their [sic] was a mistake, and you [sic] are still allowing me to be in contempt, I am being denied Due Process, and they are misusing the process of their authority, and then we are looking at false imprisonment." (Id. ¶ 10.) He further asks "[h]ow am I getting Due-Process by being sent to jail, for something I have proof of, that states I cannot work in any type of capacity...." (Id. ¶ 11.)

Harris is never specific about the preliminary injunctive relief that he is seeking against the Adams County Domestic Relations Office in his motion. (Doc. No. 37 at 6.) After reviewing the record and his objections to the R&R before the Court, however, it seems evident that Harris must at least anticipate some form of injunction to halt the child support contempt proceedings in the Court of Common Pleas of Adams County. For instance, in his original proposed order, he asks the Court to order "Ms. Emily A. Coolbaugh of Adams County Domestic Relation and the Court of Adams County to show cause... why a Preliminary Injunction should not be issued." (Doc. No. 3.) This is further illustrated by Harris' claim that he will suffer irreparable harm from the Adams County proceedings because incarceration will prohibit him from exhausting his social security disability appeal. (Doc. No. 17 ΒΆ 4.) Finally, in his "declaration in support of temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction" the Plaintiff states "it would be unjust and or non-constitutional for the court to hold me... for contempt of child support due to my disability to work in any capacity." (Doc. No. 5.) As ...

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