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Heath v. Lewis

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 24, 2014

JORDAN HEATH, Plaintiff,
v.
FRANK LEWIS, et al, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

SUSAN PARADISE BAXTER, Magistrate Judge.

Relevant Procedural History

The operative complaint in this civil action is the Amended Complaint filed at ECF No. 11. See ECF No. 21. As Defendants[1] to this action, Plaintiff has named Frank Lewis, head of the Chaplaincy Department at SCI Fayette; John E. Wetzel, Secretary of the Department of Corrections; and Debra Hawkinberry, a Department of Corrections employee in the Chaplaincy Department at SCI Fayette. In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Lewis, Wetzel, and Hawkinberry violated his constitutional rights under the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment, and the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as his statutory rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

Plaintiff claims that Defendants are "trying to deny me Jewish reading material (e.g. Torah, Zohar) and try and give the Plaintiff or try and offer a Jewish made a prostatian Bible (e.g. Christianity Bible)." ECF No. 11, page 3. Plaintiff further alleges that Hawkinberry and Lewis have violated several provisions of the Code of Ethics and that Wetzel has not made any attempt to resolve any of Plaintiff's issues. Id . Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as monetary damages.

Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated at SCI Fayette, as he has been transferred to SCI Camp Hill. Despite his failure to serve the Defendants with this action, Plaintiff has filed several motions seeking preliminary injunctive relief.[2]

Standard of Review

Preliminary or temporary injunctive relief is "a drastic and extraordinary remedy that is not to be routinely granted." Intel Corp. v. ULSI Sys. Tech., Inc. , 995 F.2d 1566, 1568 (Fed.Cir.1993); see also Hoxworth v. Blinder, Robinson & Co. Inc. , 903 F.2d 186, 189 (3d Cir. 1990). The four factors that must be shown for the issuance of a temporary restraining order are the same as those required to issue a preliminary injunction. Fink v. Supreme Court of Pennsylvania , 646 F.Supp. 569, 570 (M.D.Pa. 1986).

In determining whether to grant a preliminary injunction, a court must consider whether the party seeking the injunction has satisfied four factors: "1) a likelihood of success on the merits; 2) he or she will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is denied; 3) granting relief will not result in even greater harm to the nonmoving party; and 4) the public interest favors such relief." Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc. v. Botticella , 613 F.3d 102, 109 (3d Cir. 2010) quoting Miller v. Mitchell , 598 F.3d 139, 145 (3d Cir. 2010). See also Fed.R.Civ.P. 65.

As a court sitting in equity, the district court must weigh the four factors, but it is not incumbent on the movant to prevail on all four factors, only on the overall need for an injunction. Neo Gen Screening, Inc. v. TeleChem Intern., Inc. , 69 Fed.App'x 550, 554 (3d Cir. 2003). A sufficiently strong showing on either the likelihood of success or irreparable harm may justify an injunction, even if a movant's showing on the other two factors is lacking. Id . Because a preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy, the party seeking it must show, at a minimum, a likelihood of success on the merits and that they likely face irreparable harm in the absence of the injunction. See Adams v. Freedom Forge Corp. , 204 F.3d 475, 484 (3d Cir. 2000); Hohe v. Casey , 686 F.2d 69, 72 (3d Cir. 1989). The burden of introducing evidence to support a preliminary injunction is on the moving party with respect to the first two factors; however, the same is not true of the second two factors. Neo Gen Screening , 69 Fed.App'x at 554.

These limitations on the power of courts to enter injunctions in a correctional context are further underscored by statue. Specifically, 18 U.S.C. § 3626 limits the authority of courts to enjoin the exercise of discretion by prison officials, and provides that:

Prospective relief in any civil action with respect to prison conditions shall extend no further than necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right of a particular plaintiff or plaintiffs. The court shall not grant or approve any prospective relief unless the court finds that such relief is narrowly drawn, extends no further than necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right, and is the least intrusive means necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right. The court shall give substantial weight to any adverse impact on public safety or the operation of a criminal justice system caused by the relief.

18 U.S.C.A. § 3626(a)(1)(A).

The statute further instructs that:

Preliminary injunctive relief must be narrowly drawn, extend no further than necessary to correct the harm the court finds requires preliminary relief, and be the least intrusive means necessary to correct that harm. The court shall give substantial weight to any adverse impact on public safety or the operation of a criminal justice system caused by the ...

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