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Bobby Kenneth Williamson v. Co Roberts

October 1, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan

ECF No. 44


Pending before the Court is a Motion for Extension of Time and Emergency Injunction (ECF No. 44) filed by pro se Plaintiff, Bobby Kenneth Williamson, an inmate currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution Fayette (SCI-Fayette) in LaBelle, Pennsylvania. For the following reasons, the Motion will be granted in part and denied in part.


Plaintiff is currently serving a life sentence for crimes including first-degree murder. He initiated this action in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on August 2, 2011. He named approximately fifty Defendants, alleging civil rights violations in connection with his criminal conviction and subsequent attempts to clear his name and to be transferred to a prison in the United Kingdom. On October 5, 2011, the Eastern District dismissed the claims against the majority of the Defendants as time-barred. Upon motion of the remaining Defendants, this case was subsequently transferred to this Court on May 11, 2012.*fn1 The remaining Department of Corrections Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss on August 14, 2012, and Plaintiff's response was due on September 14, 2012. Instead of filing his response, however, Plaintiff filed the current Motion for Extension of Time and Emergency Injunction.

In his Motion, Plaintiff requests the Court to order Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU") Captain Carl Walker, and other officers, to release Plaintiff's legal property he maintains was confiscated out of retaliation. He also requests a 120 day extension of time in which to amend his complaint to presumably add claims of retaliation against these officials and requests that the Court order his immediate transfer to another facility.

II.Applicable Legal Standards

This Court has discretion to grant preliminary injunctive relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65. The party seeking a preliminary injunction has the burden of demonstrating:

(1) a reasonable probability of success on the merits; (2) irreparable harm if the injunction is denied; (3) that the issuance of an injunction will not result in greater harm to the non-moving party; and (4) that the public interest would best be served by granting the injunction. Council of Alternative Political Parties v. Hooks, 121 F.3d 876, 879 (3d Cir. 1997); Clean Ocean Action v. York, 57 F.3d 328, 331 (3d Cir. 1995); Opticians Ass'n of America v. Independent Opticians of America, 920 F.2d 187, 191-92 (3d Cir. 1990). The Court should issue the injunction only if the movant produces evidence sufficient to convince the trial judge that all four factors favor preliminary relief. Opticians, 920 F.2d at 192 (citing ECRI v. McGraw-Hill, Inc., 809 F.2d 223, 226 (3d Cir. 1987)).

The purpose of the preliminary injunction is to preserve the status quo until the rights of the parties can be fairly and fully litigated and determined by strictly legal proofs and according to the principles of equity. Wetzel v. Edwards, 635 F.2d 283, 286 (4th Cir. 1980). Thus, the grant of injunctive relief is an "extraordinary remedy which should be granted only in limited circumstances." American Telephone & Telegraph Co. v. Winback and Conserve Program, Inc., 42 F.3d 1421 (3d Cir. 1994) (quoting Frank's GMC Truck Center, Inc. v. General Motor Corp., 847 F.2d 100, 102 (3d Cir. 1988)), cert. denied, 514 U.S. 1103 (1995). The facts clearly must support a finding that immediate and irreparable injury will result to the movant if preliminary relief is denied. United States v. Stazola, 893 F.2d 34, 37 n.3 (3d Cir. 1990). The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing a "clear showing of irreparable injury." Hohe v. Casey, 868 F.2d 69, 72 (3d Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 848 (1989); ECRI, 809 F.2d at 226 (it is not enough to merely show irreparable harm: the plaintiff has the burden of showing immediate irreparable injury, which is more than merely serious or substantial harm and which cannot be redressed with money damages). Absent a showing of immediate, irreparable injury, the court should deny preliminary injunctive relief. Acierno, 40 F.3d at 655.

Moreover, in the prison context, a request for injunctive relief "must always be viewed with great caution because 'judicial restraint is especially called for in dealing with the complex and intractable problems of prison administration.'" Goff v. Harper, 60 F.3d 518, 520 (8th Cir. 1995) (quoting Rogers v. Scurr, 676 F.2d 1211, 1214 (8th Cir. 1982)). Where a plaintiff requests an injunction that would require the Court to interfere with the administration of a prison, "appropriate consideration must be given to principles of federalism in determining the availability and scope of equitable relief." Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 379 (1976). The federal courts are not overseers of the day-to-day management of prisons. Prison officials require broad discretionary authority as the "operation of a correctional institution is at best an extraordinarily difficult undertaking." Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 566 (1974). Accordingly, prison administrators should be accorded wide-ranging deference in the adoption and execution of policies and practices that are needed to preserve internal order and to maintain institutional security. Beard v. Banks, 126 S. Ct. 2572, 2578 (2006); Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 527 (1979).


With the above considerations in mind, Plaintiff has not demonstrated that preliminary injunctive relief is warranted in this case.

First, Plaintiff cannot show a likelihood of success on the merits because his Motion is based on events unrelated to the subject of his Complaint and requests an injunction against officials at SCI-Fayette who are not named as Defendants in this lawsuit. This is an impermissible basis for seeking injunctive relief*fn2 as the issuance of a preliminary injunction is to preserve the status quo and prevent irreparable harm until the court has an ...

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