United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
D. Marlani, United States District Judge
before the Court in this civil rights action is a motion
(Doc. 45) for a preliminary injunction filed by Plaintiff
Tyrone Martin ("Martin"), an inmate currently
confined at the State Correctional Institution, Huntingdon,
Pennsylvania ("SCI-Huntingdon"). At all times
relevant to the claims in this action, Martin was housed at
the State Correctional Institution, Smithfield, Pennsylvania
("SCI- Smithfield"). (See Doc. 1). Martin failed to
file a brief in support of the motion as required by Local
Rule of Court 7.5. For the following reasons, the Court will
deny the motion for preliminary injunction.
Standard of Review
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.
Dep't of Com, 334 F.App'x 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 Int'l, 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). 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), adopted by, 2013 WL 753799 (M.D. Pa.
2013). 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)).
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). 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. Seism, 2012 WL 722342, *10 (M.D. Pa.
2012). 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 722342, at *9-10. A court may not grant preliminary
injunctive relief unless "[t]he preliminary injunction
[is] the only way of protecting the plaintiff from
harm." Instant Air Freight Co., 882 F.2d at
instant motion, Martin claims that Defendants interfered with
his ability to copy documents, tampered with his mail, and
that Defendants' actions are "unbecoming."
(Doc. 45). For relief, Martin "seeks help or appointed
counsel." (Id.). Martin has failed to satisfy
the four factors to support granting a preliminary
regard to the first factor, it is not likely that Martin will
prevail on the merits of the claims. Martin's general
allegations regarding the treatment of his mail are vague and
nonspecific. He provides no specific facts or proof that his
mail is being read by any particular unauthorized individual.
See (Doc. 45) (stating that Defendants are
"pos[s]ibly" destroying his mail). Nor does Martin
state that any of the named Defendants were personally
involved in the alleged mail tampering. As to his complaints
that he was not permitted to copy non-legal documents, Martin
has provided documentation that the denial was pursuant to
official DOC policy. Martin has provided responses to his
grievances wherein prison administrators explained that DOC
policy states, "[t]he library will only photocopy legal
materials for inmates housed in the RHU." (Doc. 46-1, p.
4). Martin has thus failed to establish a reasonable
likelihood of success on the merits to constitute an award of
preliminary injunctive relief.
the second factor, Martin fails to explain how the alleged
mail tampering and inability to photocopy non-legal documents
will cause his case irreparable harm. Martin provides no
direct relationship between the alleged individuals tampering
with his mail, the inability to photocopy, and the harm to
his case. Rather, he sets forth conclusory statements and
speculation. Thus, the Court finds that Martin has not shown
an immediate irreparable harm justifying a preliminary
Court next considers the third and fourth factors. Granting
injunctive relief in the instant action, which would
effectively have the federal court making ad hoc and
individual decisions concerning a single prisoner, could harm
both the Defendants' and the public's interest. In
the prison context, Defendants' interests and the
public's interest in penological order could be adversely
effected if the Court began dictating that one particular
inmate could photocopy certain documents. Moreover, the Court
declines to interfere with photocopying policy and mail
opening process that occurs in prison. Therefore,
consideration of "whether granting preliminary relief
will result in even greater harm to the nonmoving party; and
... whether granting the preliminary relief will be in the
public interest, " Gerardi v. Pelullo, 16 F.3d
1363, 1373 (3d Cir. 1994), weighs against Martin in this
on the foregoing, Martin's motion for a preliminary
injunction will be ...