United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
C. CARLSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Statement of Facts and of the Case
case is a pro se prisoner civil rights action
brought by Max Jeri, a federal prisoner who was formerly
housed at the Federal Correctional Institution, Schuylkill.
On October 17, 2019, Jeri filed a complaint and motion for
preliminary injunction, (Doc. 1), which alleged that he was
suffering from an immediate and urgent medical
condition-internal bleeding-which required an exigent
response. (Id.) Jeri's pleadings sought
injunctive relief only, in the form of an order directing
that Jeri receive treatment for this acute medical condition.
the nature of Jeri's expressed concerns, we directed that
a copy of the complaint be served and instructed the
government to provide an expedited response to Jeri's
request for immediate medical assistance. (Doc. 5). The
government has now filed this response. (Doc. 7). That
response indicates that prison medical staff have been
attentive to Jeri's needs, and notes that on October 22,
2019, Jeri was transferred from FCI Schuylkill to the Federal
Medical Center Butner for further care and treatment.
(Id., at 3). In light of these developments, the
government suggests that Jeri's requests for injunctive
relief from officials at FCI Schuylkill are now moot and this
case should be transferred to the Eastern District of North
Carolina, where the Butner Medical Center is located and
where Jeri is currently housed and receiving medical care.
reasons set forth below, we concur.
complaint seeks prospective relief only in the form of an
order directing medical care for his internal bleeding. It is
undisputed, however, that Jeri is no longer housed in this
district but rather has been transferred to the Federal
Medical Center Butner, in Butner, North Carolina.
immutable fact effects this litigation in at least two ways.
First, it suggests that, in this district, this case is now
moot. The mootness doctrine recognizes a fundamental truth in
litigation: “[i]f developments occur during the course
of adjudication that eliminate a plaintiff's personal
stake in the outcome of a suit or prevent a court from being
able to grant the requested relief, the case must be
dismissed as moot.” Blanciak v. Allegheny Ludlum
Corp., 77 F.3d 690, 698-99 (3d Cir. 1996). In this case,
Jeri sought to enjoin prison officials at FCI Schuylkill to
provide him with specific forms of medical care. Yet, it is
entirely undisputed that Jeri is no longer in the
defendants' custody and, therefore, no longer receives
these services from the prison defendants named in this case.
simple fact raises a threshold, and insurmountable, obstacle
to this motion for injunctive relief relating to treatment at
a prison where Jeri is no longer incarcerated. Upon
consideration, we conclude that the plaintiffs transfer
renders his motion for injunctive relief in this district
moot. In this setting, the United States Court of Appeals for
the Third Circuit has observed that, when addressing inmate
requests for injunctive relief:
As a preliminary matter, we must determine whether the
inmates' claims are moot because “a federal court
has neither the power to render advisory opinions nor to
decide questions that cannot affect the rights of litigants
in the case before them." Preiser v. Newkirk,
422 U.S. 395, 401 (1975) (quotations omitted); see also
Abdul-Akbar v. Watson, 4 F.3d 195, 206 (3d Cir.1993). An
inmate's transfer from the facility complained of
generally moots the equitable and declaratory claims.
Abdul-Akbar, 4 F.3d at 197 (former inmate's
claim that the prison library's legal resources were
constitutionally inadequate was moot because plaintiff was
released five months before trial).
Sutton v. Rasheed, 323 F.3d 236, 248 (3d Cir. 2003).
See Griffin v. Beard, No. 09- 4404, 2010 WL 4642961
(3d Cir. Nov. 17, 2010) (transfer from SCI Huntingdon renders
inmate injunctive relief claim moot). Indeed, as this court
has previously observed, in a case such as this, where an
inmate seeks injunctive relief against his jailers but is no
longer housed at the prison where these injunctive claims
[H]is request to enjoin the defendants from interfering
with his [rights] is academic. In other words, [the
prisoner-plaintiff s] transfer to another institution moots
any claims for injunctive or declaratory relief.
Fortes v. Harding, 19 F.Supp.2d 323, 326 (M.D. Pa.
1998). citing Abdul-Akbar v. Watson, 4 F.3d 195,
206-07 (3d Cir. 1993); Weaver v. Wilcox, 650 F.2d
22, 27 (3d Cir. 1981); Muslim v. Frame, 854 F.Supp.
1215, 1222 (E.D. Pa. 1994).
while we may be unable to afford Jeri any relief in this
court, his medical needs, which are being addressed by
federal officials in North Carolina, may remain an active
matter of dispute and concern. This consideration cautions in
favor of the transfer of this case to the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of ...