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Rudnick v. Raemisch

United States District Court, D. Colorado

May 30, 2017



          Kristen L. Mix United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [#28][1] (the “Motion for Injunctive Relief”), [2] and Plaintiff's Request for Action on His T.R.O./Preliminary Injunction Motion (Filed on 1-17-2017 -2nd Time) and Notice of Hardship [#42] (the “Motion Requesting Action”). Defendants filed a Response [#68] in opposition to the Motion for Injunctive Relief.[3] The Court has reviewed the Motions, the Response, the entire case file, and the applicable law, and is sufficiently advised in the premises. For the reasons set forth below, the Court respectfully RECOMMENDS that the Motion for Injunctive Relief [#28] be DENIED. The Motion Requesting Action [#42] is DENIED as moot.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff is a prisoner in the custody of the Colorado Department of Corrections (“CDOC”) at the Sterling Correctional Facility. He has brought this pro se action against various prison officials pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Second Am. Compl. [#24] at 12. Plaintiff challenges the replacement of his prescription eyeglasses with state-issued eyeglasses that he alleges are inadequate. He also challenges certain restrictions placed on his access to the prison's law library and his legal materials. See id. at 36-50. Plaintiff seeks immediate injunctive relief related to provision of new eyeglasses, unlimited and unrestricted print-outs of and access to his legal documents, and to “stop all ‘scrutiny' and ‘sharing' of Plaintiff's privileged confidential legal file information with other parties, ” among other requests. Motion for Injunctive Relief [#28] at 25-27. Plaintiff's Motion Requesting Action [#42] seeks a ruling on the Motion for Injunctive Relief [#28].

         II. Analysis

         A. Standard for Injunctive Relief

         As a preliminary matter, because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court must construe his pleadings liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). However, the Court should not be the pro se litigant's advocate, nor should the Court “supply additional factual allegations to round out [a pro se litigant's] complaint or construct a legal theory on [his] behalf.” Whitney v. New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997) (citing Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110).

         Injunctive relief is an extraordinary remedy that should only be granted when the moving party clearly and unequivocally demonstrates its necessity. Schrier v. Univ. of Colo., 427 F.3d 1253, 1258 (10th Cir. 2005). In the Tenth Circuit, a party requesting injunctive relief must clearly establish that: (1) the party will suffer irreparable injury unless the injunction issues; (2) the threatened injury outweighs whatever damage the proposed injunction may cause the opposing party; (3) the injunction, if issued, would not be adverse to the public interest; and (4) there is a substantial likelihood of success on the merits. Id.

         “Because a showing of probable irreparable harm is the single most important prerequisite for the issuance of a preliminary injunction, the moving party must first demonstrate that such injury is likely before the other requirements for the issuance of an injunction will be considered.” Dominion Video Satellite, Inc. v. Echostar Satellite Corp., 356 F.3d 1256, 1260 (10th Cir. 2004) (citations omitted). Moreover,

[b]ecause the limited purpose of a preliminary injunction is merely to preserve the relative positions of the parties until a trial on the merits can be held, we have identified the following three types of specifically disfavored preliminary injunctions . . . (1) preliminary injunctions that alter the status quo; (2) mandatory preliminary injunctions; and (3) preliminary injunctions that afford the movant all the relief that [he] could recover at the conclusion of a full trial on the merits.

Schrier, 427 F.3d at 1258-59 (citations omitted). These disfavored injunctions are “more closely scrutinized to assure that the exigencies of the case support the granting of a remedy that is extraordinary even in the normal course.” Id. at 1259.

         Plaintiff seeks to change various prison rules, or at least to change how the rules are applied to him. See generally Motion for Injunctive Relief [#28]. Thus, Plaintiff seeks a preliminary injunction which would require Defendants to act and/or otherwise alter the status quo in relation to their dealings with Plaintiff. For these reasons, the injunctive relief sought by Plaintiff “constitutes a specifically disfavored injunction” that “must be more closely scrutinized.” See Schrier, 427 F.3d at 1261. Therefore, “the right to relief must be clear and unequivocal.” Id. at 1258.

         Additionally, the Court must consider well-established precedent that prison management functions should be left to the broad discretion of prison administrators in order to enable them to manage prisons safely and effectively. See, e.g., Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215 (1976). Thus, courts should grant injunctive relief involving the management of prisons only under exceptional and compelling circumstances. Taylor v. Freeman, 34 F.3d 266, 269-70 & n.2 (4th Cir. 1994); see also Citizens Concerned for Separation of Church & State v. Denver, 628 F.2d 1289, 1299 (10th Cir. 1980). Indeed, the Tenth Circuit has stated that it “abhor[s] any situation or circumstance requiring the intervention of the federal courts in matters involving the administration, control and maintenance by the sovereign states of their penal systems. It is a delicate role assigned to the federal courts to display that restraint so necessary ‘in the maintenance of proper federal-state relations.'” Battle v. Anderson, 564 F.2d 388, 392 (10th Cir. 1977) (citation omitted). As such, “intervention in the management of state prisons is rarely appropriate when exercising the equitable powers of the federal courts. . . . [This] is especially true where mandatory injunctive relief is sought and only preliminary findings as to the plaintiff's likelihood of success on the merits have been made.” Taylor, 34 F.3d at 269 (citations omitted).

         B. ...

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