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Gee v. Sabol

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

January 21, 2015

DAVID GEE, Plaintiff,
MARY SABOL, et al., Defendants.


ROBERT D. MARIANI, District Judge.

On June 19, 2014, Plaintiff, David Gee, an inmate currently confined at the York County Prison, in York, Pennsylvania, initiated the above-captioned action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff alleges, inter alia, that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by failing to provide him with Kosher meals. ( Id. ). Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs motion for a temporary restraining order, wherein he requests that the Court enter an order directing the York County Prison to serve him Kosher meals. (Doc. 7). For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be denied.

I. Background

The complaint identifies the Defendants and their job descriptions as follows: Mary Sabol, Warden of the York County Prison; Doll, Deputy Warden of Treatment at the York County Prison; Steve Choristers, head of the Solicitor's office of the York County Prison; Chaplin Bupp, head of the Chaplin's office and religious activities; Patricia Bennett, medical staff at the York County Prison; Trostle, an officer at the York County Prison; Abenshon, supervisor at the York County Prison and a member of the religious committee; the York County Prison Religious Committee; the York County Solicitor's Office; Michael W. Flannelly, Solicitor; Donald L. Reihart, Assistant Solicitor; and, Christopher B. Reilly, Commissioner. (Doc. 1).

Plaintiff alleges that when he entered the York County Prison, he indicated that he was of the Jewish faith. (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 4). He alleges that despite identifying himself as a member of the Jewish faith, he did not receive Kosher meals. (Doc. 1, ¶ 16).

On January 20, 2014, Plaintiff filed a grievance relating to the denial of Kosher meals. (Doc. 1, ¶ 17).

On January 23, 2014, Plaintiff wrote to the Chaplain's office inquiring as to why he was not receiving Kosher meals, and was informed that it was because he is on a medical diet. (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 18, 19).

Plaintiff subsequently spoke to Defendant Nurse Bennett about not receiving Kosher meals and she informed Plaintiff that he would not be switched to Kosher meals because he stated on several occasions that he was Muslim and/or did not have a faith. (Doc. 1, ¶ 22).

On March 25, 2014, Defendant Doll responded to Plaintiffs grievance and stated he was not receiving Kosher meals because of his prior statements that he was of the Islamic faith and/or had no faith and, regardless, not all members of the Jewish faith follow a strict Kosher diet. (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 23, 24).

Based on the above allegations, Plaintiff claims that the Defendants violated his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

II. Preliminary Injunction Rule 65 - Legal Standard

Inmate pro se pleadings which seek emergency relief in the form of preliminary injunctions are governed by Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A preliminary injunction is an "extraordinary remedy" that should issue only in limited circumstances. Rawls v. Pa. Dept of Corr., 334 Fed.Appx. 462, 464 (3d Cir. 2009). In determining whether to grant a motion seeking preliminary injunctive relief, courts in the Third Circuit consider the following four factors: (1) the likelihood that the movant will prevail on the merits; (2) the extent to which the movant is being irreparably harmed by the challenged conduct; (3) the extent to which the non-moving party will suffer irreparable harm if the preliminary injunction is issued; and (4) whether granting preliminary injunctive relief will be in the public interest. S & R Corp. v. Jiffy Lube Inc., 968 F.2d 371, 374 (3d Cir. 1992) (citing Hoxworth v. Blinder, Robinson & Co., 903 F.2d 186, 197-98 (3d Cir. 1990)); Chimenti v. Kimber, 2009 WL 2957792, *1 (M.D. Pa. 2009) (Vanaskie, J.). If the record does not at least support a finding of both irreparable injury and a likelihood of success on the merits, then preliminary injunctive relief cannot be granted. Marxe v. Jackson, 833 F.2d 1121 (3d Cir. 1987); Spotts v. United States, 2013 WL 753520, *3 (M.D. Pa. 2013) (Carlson, M.J.), adopted by, 2013 WL 753799 (M.D. Pa. 2013) (Kosik, J.). The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating these factors. Chimenti, 2009 WL 2957792, at *1 (citing Dorfman v. Moorhous, 1993 WL 483166, *1 (E.D. Pa. 1993)).

"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." McLaughlin v. Fultz, 2008 WL 239557, *4 (M.D. Pa. 2008) (Kosik, J.). Speculative injury does not constitute a showing of irreparable harm. Continental Group, Inc. v. Amoco Chemicals Corp., 614 F.2d 351, 359 (3d Cir. 1980); Azzara v. Scism, 2012 WL 722342, *10 (M.D. Pa. 2012) (Nealon, J.). The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has defined irreparable injury as "potential harm which cannot be redressed by a legal or an equitable remedy following a trial." Instant Air Freight Co. v. C.F. Air Freight, Inc., 882 F.2d 797, 801 (3d Cir. 1989); Azzara, 2012 WL ...

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