Civil Action No. 6:18-cv-150-JFA-KFM
REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE
This matter is before the court on the plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order ("TRO") in which he alleges that the staff at Kershaw Correctional Institution in the South Carolina Department of Corrections ("SCDC") has withheld his outgoing legal mail, and thus he has been denied access to the court (doc. 74-1).
In his amended complaint, the plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, alleges that the defendant used excessive force against him when she sprayed him with pepper spray on April 13, 2017 (doc. 71). Pursuant to the provisions of Title 28, United States Code, Section 636(b)(1)(B), and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d) (D.S.C.), this magistrate judge is authorized to review all pretrial matters in cases filed under Section 1983 and submit findings and recommendations to the district court.
In his motion, the plaintiff asks that the defendant and others be enjoined from harassing him, refusing to allow him to enter the library, refusing to give him his legal mail, and refusing to transfer him to the mental health dorm in Broad River Correctional Institution (doc. 74).
"Preliminary injunctions are not to be granted automatically." Wetzel v. Edwards, 635 F.2d 283, 286 (4th Cir. 1980). Such relief regarding the administration of a state prison should be granted only in compelling circumstances. See Taylor v. Freeman, 34 F.3d 266, 269 (4th Cir. 1994). A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction or TRO must establish all four of the following elements: (1) he is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) the balance of equities tips in his favor; and (4) an injunction is in the public interest. Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008); The Real Truth About Obama, Inc. v. Fed. Election Comm'n, 575 F.3d 342, 346-47 (4th Cir. 2009), vacated on other grounds by 559 U.S. 1089 (2010), reinstated in relevant part on remand by 607 F.3d 355 (4th Cir. 2010). A plaintiff must make a clear showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits of his claim. Winter, 555 U.S. at 22; Real Truth, 575 F.3d at 345-46. Similarly, he must make a clear showing that he is likely to be irreparably harmed absent injunctive relief. Winter, 555 U.S. at 20-23; Real Truth, 575 F.3d at 347. Only then may the court consider whether the balance of equities tips in the plaintiff's favor. See Real Truth, 575 F.3d at 346-47. Finally, the court must pay particular regard to the public consequences of employing the extraordinary relief of injunction. Real Truth, 575 F.3d at 347 (quoting Winter, 555 U.S. at 24).
The plaintiff has failed to meet the standard for issuance of a preliminary injunction or TRO. As to his concerns regarding his legal mail, the plaintiff has failed to show a likelihood of irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief as belied by his numerous motions and responses to motions that have been received and filed with the court (see docs. 2, 4, 24, 25, 26, 31, 32, 42, 54, 57, 58, 62, 64, 65). The plaintiff makes a conclusory allegation with no support that a Ms. Amason, who is not a party to this lawsuit, failed to mail his response to the defendant's motion to take his deposition and that the motion would not have been granted if his response had been received by the court (doc. 74-2 at 4-5). While the defendant was required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(a)(2) to obtain leave of court to depose the plaintiff since he is confined in prison, the rule also states that "the court must grant leave to the extent consistent with Rule 26(b)(1) and (2)." Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(a)(2) (emphasis added). Accordingly, as the plaintiff's deposition was well within the discovery scope and limits of Rule 26, the plaintiff cannot show prejudice based upon his failure to file any response to the motion.
As to the plaintiff's claim that he was denied access to the law library on June 12, 2018, again, the plaintiff has suffered no prejudice as he has been able to file motions and responses to motions since that date. Moreover, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has long recognized the "wide ranging deference" that the judiciary must show prison administrators with regard to matters within their discretion. See Wetzel v. Edwards, 635 F.2d 283, 288 (4th Cir. 1980) (discussing the complexities of running a penal institution and the reluctance of federal courts to interfere in the problems of prison administration). Further, as to the plaintiff's request to be transferred to Broad River, there is no constitutional right for a prisoner to be housed in a particular institution, at a particular custody level, or in a particular portion or unit of a correctional institution. See Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238, 245-48 (1983). The United States Supreme Court has emphasized that the "decision where to house inmates is at the core of prison administrators' expertise," McKune v. Lile, 536 U.S. 24, 26 (2002), and that federal courts must give great consideration to the need to maintain order, discipline, and control. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 558-62 (1974). The plaintiff has been committed to the SCDC to serve his sentence, and SCDC officials have discretion in where to place him.
Based upon the foregoing, the plaintiff's motion (doc. 74) should be denied.
IT IS SO RECOMMENDED.
s/ Kevin F. McDonald
United States Magistrate Judge July 26, 2018
Greenville, South Carolina
Notice of Right to File Objections to Report and Recommendation
The parties are advised that they may file specific written objections to this Report and Recommendation with the District Judge. Objections must specifically identify the portions of the Report and Recommendation to which objections are made and the basis for such objections. "[I]n the absence of a timely filed objection, a district court need not conduct a de novo review, but instead must 'only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.'" Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 72 advisory committee's note).
Specific written objections must be filed within fourteen (14) days of the date of service of this Report and Recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(a), (d). Filing by mail pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5 may be accomplished by mailing objections to:
Robin L. Blume, Clerk
United States District Court
300 East Washington Street
Greenville, South Carolina 29601
Failure to timely file specific written objections to this Report and Recommendation will result in waiver of the right to appeal from a judgment of the District Court based upon such Recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985); Wright v. Collins, 766 F.2d 841 (4th Cir. 1985); United States v. Schronce, 727 F.2d 91 (4th Cir. 1984).