United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
Pupo Lenihan, United States Magistrate Judge.
case is before the Court on the “Affidavit Petition for
Special Preliminary Injunctions and Emergency Temporary
Restraining Orders, ” filed by Plaintiff Herbert
Blakeney (“Plaintiff”) on November 22, 2019. (ECF
No. 2.) For purposes of this Opinion, it will be construed as
a Motion for Preliminary Injunction.
November 22, 2019, Plaintiff, a capital case prisoner
currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution
at Greene (“SCI Greene”), commenced this action
by filing the instant Motion for Preliminary Injunction.
See (ECF No. 1.) This Motion, however, was
unaccompanied by a complaint or filing fee/motion for leave
to proceed in forma pauperis. On December 9, 2019,
Plaintiff a Motion to Appoint Counsel (ECF No. 3) and a
Motion to Transfer Case to the Middle District of
Pennsylvania (ECF No. 4).
Motion, Plaintiff claims that he has been denied access to
the courts by staff members at SCI-Greene. When he filed a
grievance about the issue, he was met with retaliation by
those staff members from whom he later sought separations
and/or a transfer to the State Correctional Institution
Phoenix (“SCI Phoenix”). These requests were
denied but Plaintiff was offered “self lock-up”
although it is unclear whether he elected this form of
custody. Plaintiff claims that he has been subjected to
retaliation ever since and is now in fear of his life and
in support of his access to courts claim, Plaintiff states
that he has been denied access to his legal materials and
property and that he has court ordered deadlines in his
criminal case that he cannot meet without it. He also claims
that he has been denied access to extra time in the law
library, which he alleges is inadequate, and that his
eyeglasses were stolen to prevent him from litigating.
also makes several complaints unrelated to his criminal case
such as being denied his “open face head warmer”
that protects him from the cold temperature since he has a
metal plate in his face. He also states that correctional
staff lie to him daily, never answer or delay in answering
his request slips and enforce invalid write-ups against him.
He claims that they denied him a hardship transfer and put
him on phone restrictions, both without legal cause, and
denied him job assignments for which he qualified. He
generally asserts that they fail to investigate his
grievances and cover-up wrongdoing.
requests that this Court order his immediate transfer to
SCI-Phoenix with all his personal and legal property, order
the return of his head warmer and the “restart”
of his grievance appeals for the invalid write-ups.
for preliminary injunctive relief are governed by Rule 65 of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and are judged against
exacting legal standards. To obtain a preliminary injunction
or a temporary restraining order, a movant “must
satisfy the traditional four-factor test: (1) a likelihood of
success on the merits; (2) he or she will suffer irreparable
harm if the injunction is denied; (3) granting relief will
not results in even greater harm to the non-moving party; and
(4) the public interest favors such relief.” Miller
v. Mitchell, 598 F.3d 139, 147 (3d Cir. 2010). It is the
movant's burden to show a likelihood of success on the
merits. Campbell Soup Co. v. ConAgra Inc., 977 F.2d
86, 90 (3d Cir. 1992).
injunctive relief is not granted as a matter of right.
Kershner v. Mazurkiewicz, 670 F.2d 440, 443 (3d Cir.
1982), see also Thomas v. Pennsylvania Dep't of
Corr., 3:13-CV-2661, 2014 WL 3955105, at *1 (M.D. Pa.
Aug. 13, 2014) (“An injunction is an
‘extraordinary remedy' that is never awarded as of
right.”). Rather, the decision to grant or deny such
relief is committed to the discretion of the district court.
United States v. Price, 688 F.2d 204, 210 (3d Cir.
preliminary injunctive relief is an extraordinary remedy that
places precise burdens on the moving party, and “[t]he
preliminary injunction must be the only way of protecting the
plaintiff from harm.” Instant Air Freight Co. v.
C.F. Air Freight, Inc., 882 F.2d 797, 801 (3d Cir.
1989). “It has been well stated that upon an
application for a preliminary injunction to doubt is to
deny.” Madison Square Garden Corp. v.
Braddock, 90 F.2d 924, 927 (3d Cir. 1937). Further,
where the requested preliminary injunctive relief “is
directed not merely at preserving the status quo but . . . at
providing mandatory relief, the burden on the moving party is
particularly heavy.” Punnet v. Carter, 621
F.2d 578, 582 (3d Cir. 1980). Mandatory injunctions should be
used sparingly. United States v. Price, 688 F.2d
204, 212 (3d Cir. 1982).
party to sustain his burden of proof that he is entitled to
preliminary injunctive relief under Rule 65, he must
demonstrate both a reasonable likelihood of success on the
merits and irreparable harm if the requested relief is not
granted. Abu-Jamal v. Price, 154 F.3d 128, 133 (3d
Cir. 1998); Kershner, 670 F.2d at 443. “As
these elements suggest, there must be ‘a relationship
between the injury claimed in the party's motion and the
conduct asserted in the complaint.'” Ball v.
Famiglio, 396 Fed.Appx. 836, 837 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoting
Little v. Jones, 607 F.3d 1245, 1251 (10th Cir.
2010) (quoting Devose v. Herrington, 42 F.3d 470,
471 (8th Cir. 1994)). “To establish a reasonable
probability of success on the merits, the moving party must
produce sufficient evidence to satisfy the essential elements
of the underlying cause of action.” Sutton v.
Cerullo, 3:CV-10-1899, 2014 WL 3900235, at *5 (M.D. Pa.
Aug. 8, 2014). To establish irreparable injury, “the
moving party must establish that the harm is imminent and
probable.” Stilp v. Contino, 629 F.Supp.2d
449, 466 (M.D. Pa. 2009). “The mere risk of injury is
not sufficient to meet this standard.” Id. And
the burden of showing irreparable injury “is not an
easy burden” to meet. Moore v. Mann,
3:CV-13-2771, 2014 WL 3893909, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Aug 7, 2014).
In assessing a motion for preliminary injunctive relief, the
court must also consider the harm to the defendants and
whether granting the preliminary injunction will be in the
public interest. New Jersey Retail Merchants Ass'n v.
Sidamon-Eristoff, 669 F.3d 374, 388 (3d Cir. 2012).