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Freeland v. Jividen

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia, Martinsburg

March 7, 2019

ARON FREELAND, Petitioner,
v.
BETSY JIVIDEN, WVDOC Commissioner, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION TO DENY PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER

          ROBERT W. TRUMBLE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On February 22, 2019, the pro se Plaintiff, an inmate[1] at Huttonsville Correction Center in Huttonsville, West Virginia, filed a pleading styled “Motion for T.R.O. to be Issued”, which was construed as a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. ECF No. 1.[2] The pleading claims that Plaintiff's life was threatened by a correctional officer on February 18, 2019, and that his safety required his transfer from Huttonsville Correctional Center.

         Also on February 22, 2019, the Clerk issued a notice of deficient pleading and intent to dismiss because Plaintiff failed to file his complaint on Court-approved forms. ECF No. 2. On March 4, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel styled “Injunctive Relief Order”. ECF No. 4. The motion seeks two forms of relief: (1) that Defendants be ordered to comply with certain policy directives and provide Plaintiff with a copy of all his previously-filed grievances; and (2) that the Court schedule an evidentiary hearing so Plaintiff may establish how the Defendants have prevented him from exhausting his available administrative remedies. Id. at 4.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Pro Se Litigants.

         Courts must read pro se allegations in a liberal fashion and hold those pro se pleadings “to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court is required to perform a judicial review of certain suits brought by prisoners and must dismiss a case at any time if the Court determines that the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. A complaint is frivolous if it is without arguable merit either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989) (superseded by statute). The Supreme Court in Neitzke recognized that:

Section 1915(d)[3] is designed largely to discourage the filing of, and waste of judicial and private resources upon, baseless lawsuits that paying litigants generally do not initiate because of the costs of bringing suit and because of the threat of sanctions for bringing vexatious suits under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. To this end, the statute accords judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.

490 U.S. at 327.

         B. Requests for Injunctive Relief

         The Fourth Circuit reviews “a district court's decision to grant a preliminary injunction[4] under an abuse-of-discretion standard.” International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, 883 F.3d 233, 255 - 56 (4th Cir. 2018), as amended (Feb. 28, 2018). The standard for granting injunctive relief was articulated by the United States Supreme Court which held in Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008) that:

A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest.

         As restated by the Fourth Circuit, when a plaintiff seeks the extraordinary remedy of a preliminary injunction:

The plaintiff “need not establish a certainty of success, but must make a clear showing that he is likely to succeed at trial.” A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that (1) she is likely to succeed on the merits, (2) she is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, (3) the balance ...

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