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Gholson v. Sheeder

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 8, 2019

BLAINE KOBY GHOLSON, Plaintiff,
v.
BRADLEY J. SHEEDER, BENJAMIN E. WEAVER, MR. SOKIRA, WHEARY, LT. BYERS, CRONHAUER, JUDY L. SMITH, LEE J. ESTOCK, YOLANDA S. WEBB, and HEIDE, Defendants.

          Arthur J. Schwab, Magistrate District Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION RE: ECF NO. 32

          MAUREEN P. KELLY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. RECOMMENDATION

         Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Restraining Order. ECF No. 32. For the reasons that follow, it is respectfully recommended that Plaintiffs Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Restraining Order be denied.

         II. REPORT

         A. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Blaine Koby Gholson ("Plaintiff), proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint in the above-titled action on September 21, 2018, alleging violations of his First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights by officials at the State Correctional Institution ("SCI") Pine Grove, where he was previously incarcerated.[1] ECF No. 1. Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at SCI Houtzdale. ECF No. 27.

         On June 4, 2019, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Restraining Order.[2] ECF No. 32. Although Plaintiff asserts that he is, and has been, housed alone in a cell since 2016, he requests that the Court enter an order "to grant the Plaintiff permanent Administrative Custody in segregation and a permanent Z Code (single cell status)," in order to ensure his safety. Id. According to Plaintiff, various prison officials are engaged in a plot to have him killed for purposes of collecting the profits on a fraudulent life insurance policy taken out in Plaintiffs name, and making his current housing conditions "permanent" is necessary to prevent him from being injured or killed. Id.

         In opposition, Defendants filed Department of Corrections Defendants' Response to Plaintiffs Motion for Preliminary Injunction on June 21, 2019. ECF No. 37. Defendants offer three arguments for denying Plaintiffs motion. First, Defendants argue that Plaintiffs motion should be denied because Plaintiffs allegations of potential harm are conclusory and speculative, as they rely upon the unproven existence of a fraudulent life insurance policy. Id. at 2. Second, Defendants assert that, because Plaintiff admits he is currently in long-term custody and has been granted temporary Z-Code status, he is improperly requesting that the Court grant a "status" that he already possesses. Id. Finally, Defendants argue that Plaintiff does not have a constitutional right to a Z-Code status under the Eighth Amendment. Id. at 3-4.

         B. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Preliminary injunctive relief is an extraordinary remedy and should issue only in limited circumstances. Four factors inform a court's decision as to the issuance of a preliminary injunction: (1) whether the movant has shown a reasonable probability of success on the merits; (2) whether the movant will suffer irreparable harm if denied relief; (3) whether the requested relief will cause greater harm to the nonmovant; and (4) whether an injunction would be in the public interest. Am. Express Travel Related Servs., Inc. v. Sidamon-Eristoff, 669 F.3d 359, 366 (3d Cir. 2012). The first two factors are "most critical" to the court's analysis, and the movant cannot succeed if either of these two factors are not established. Reilly v. City of Harrisburg, 858 F.3d 173, 179 (3d Cir. 2017). If these first two "gateway factors" are met, the court considers the remaining factors and determines whether all four factors, on balance, weigh in favor of granting the requested preliminary relief. Id.

         In assessing the second factor, a court may not grant preliminary injunctive relief unless the plaintiff can show "immediate irreparable injury," which is more than merely serious or substantial harm. ECRI v. McGraw-Hill, Inc., 809 F.2d 223, 226 (3d Cir. 1987). Additionally, "the claimed injury cannot merely be possible, speculative, or remote." Dice v. Clinicorp. Inc., 887 F.Supp. 803, 809 (W.D. Pa. 1995). Thus, an injunction shall not be issued "simply to eliminate a possibility of a remote future injury." Acierno v. New Castle Cty., 40 F.3d 645, 655 (3d Cir. 1994) (quoting Cont'l Group. Inc. v. Amoco Chemicals Corp., 614 F.2d 351 (3d Cir. 1980)).

         C. DISCUSSION

         Here, Plaintiff does not satisfy the requirements for granting injunctive relief. As a threshold matter, Plaintiffs allegations of a plot by prison officials against his life do not appear to be grounded in reason or evidence, and therefore Plaintiff does not demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits. See Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992); Pavalone v. Bush, No. 3:11-1620, 2012 WL 1569614, at *1 (M.D. Pa. March 27, 2012) ("Within the Third Circuit, courts ...


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