United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
J. Schwab, Magistrate District Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION RE: ECF NO. 32
MAUREEN P. KELLY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
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
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
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. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff is currently
incarcerated at SCI Houtzdale. ECF No. 27.
4, 2019, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion for Preliminary
Injunction and Restraining Order. 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.
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.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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.
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)).
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 ...