Hoeck v. Miklich et al
ORDER denying 71 Motion for Preliminary Injunction. Entered by Judge Philip A. Brimmer on 08/20/15.(jhawk, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Judge Philip A. Brimmer
Civil Action No. 13-cv-00206-PAB-KLM
DAVID B. HOECK,
J. STRICKLETT, and
MARY ANN ALDRICH,
This matter is before the Court on the Motion for Injunctive Relief or Other
Remedy [Docket No. 71] filed by plaintiff David B. Hoeck. Mr. Hoeck is currently
incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility in Sterling, Colorado (“SCF”) and at
times relevant to this action was incarcerated at the Colorado Territorial Correctional
Facility in Cañon City, Colorado (“CTCF”). This case arises out of Mr. Hoeck’s
contention that defendant prison officials are substantially and unreasonably burdening
his ability to practice his religion.
Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on January 28, 2013, alleging that defendants have
refused to permit plaintiff to observe his religious beliefs as a member of the Biblical
Christian faith in violation of (1) his right to the free exercise of his religion under the
First Amendment; (2) the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
(“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc to 2000cc-5; and (3) Colorado law providing freedom
of worship to individuals confined in a correctional facility, Colo. Rev. Stat. § 17-42-101.
See generally Docket No. 25.
Plaintiff’s motion states that plaintiff’s prison file incorrectly states that plaintiff
has been convicted of two counts of “wrongs to a child,” when he in fact was convicted
of the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Docket No. 71 at 1, ¶ 1. As a
result of this alleged error in plaintiff’s file, plaintiff states that he has been harassed by
inmates and staff members and physically assaulted by fellow inmates on numerous
occasions. See id.
Plaintiff also claims that, on December 10, 2014, plaintiff was transferred from
CTCF to SCF. Id. ¶ 3. Since moving to SCF, plaintiff states that he has not been
allowed to practice his sincerely held religious beliefs. Id. at 1-2, ¶ 4. Plaintiff alleges
that his transfer to SCF was retaliatory. Id. at 1, ¶ 3. Finally, plaintiff states that,
because his records were not properly transferred to SCF, he was forced to submit to
unnecessary testing for tuberculosis. Id. at 2, ¶ 5.
Plaintiff seeks an order (1) permitting plaintiff to observe the holy days of the
Biblical Christian faith, (2) requiring that plaintiff be given a diet that comports with the
tenets of the Biblical Christian faith, (3) returning plaintiff to CTCF and placing him back
in the “incentive unit” there, (4) requiring defendants to alter plaintiff’s prisoner file such
that plaintiff is not listed as having been incarcerated for the crime of “Wrongs to a
Child,” and (5) requiring transfer of plaintiff’s medical records from an Illinois
penitentiary so that plaintiff’s current treatment for tuberculosis may be discontinued.
See Docket No. 71 at 2.
Defendants argue that plaintiff’s motion should be denied because injunctive
relief is unavailable to remedy past harm, because his statements concerning the denial
of his right to practice his religious beliefs are vague and conclusory, and because
plaintiff does not establish a relationship between the relief he seeks and the claims in
his complaint. See Docket No. 75. In his reply brief, plaintiff states that, as of the time
of the brief, plaintiff had been at SCF for two months and had not had any meals
provided by SCF on holy days, nor had he been permitted to have “holy convocations”
with other members of his faith. See Docket No. 79 at 2.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
A preliminary injunction is not meant to “remedy past harm but to protect
plaintiffs from irreparable injury that will surely result without [its] issuance” and
“preserve the relative positions of the parties until a trial on the merits can be held.”
Schrier v. Univ. of Colo., 427 F.3d 1253, 1258, 1267 (10th Cir. 2005); see also Hale v.
Ashcroft, 683 F. Supp. 2d 1189, 1197 (D. Colo. 2009) (“injunctiv e relief can only be
obtained for current or prospective injury and cannot be conditioned on a past injury
that has already been remedied”). “[C]ourts generally will refuse to grant injunctive
relief unless plaintiff demonstrates that there is no adequate legal remedy.” Charles
Alan Wright et al., 11A Fed. Prac. & Proc. Civ. § 2944 (3d ed. 2014).
To obtain a preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must demonstrate four factors by a
preponderance of the evidence: “(1) a likelihood of success on the merits; (2) a
likelihood that [he] will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief;
(3) that the balance of equities tips in [his] favor; and (4) that the injunction is in the
public interest.” RoDa Drilling Co. v. Siegal, 552 F.3d 1203, 1208 (10th Cir. 2009).
“[B]ecause a preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy, the right to relief must
be clear and unequivocal.” Beltronics USA, Inc. v. Midwest Inventory Distrib., LLC, 562
F.3d 1067, 1070 (10th Cir. 2009).
A movant must show that these four factors weigh heavily in his favor in order to
obtain an injunction that (1) disturbs the status quo, (2) is mandatory rather than
prohibitory, or (3) provides the movant substantially all the relief he could feasibly attain
after a full trial on the merits. Kikumura v. Hurley, 242 F.3d 950, 955 (10th Cir. 2001).
The Tenth Circuit has described the status quo as the “last uncontested status between
the parties which preceded the controversy until the outcome of the final hearing.”
Schrier, 427 F.3d at 1260 (citing Dominion Video Satellite, Inc. v. EchoStar Satellite
Corp., 269 F.3d 1149, 1155 (10th Cir. 2001)). “In determining the status quo for
preliminary injunctions, th[e] court looks to the reality of the existing status and
relationship between the parties and not solely to the parties’ legal rights.” Id.
An order granting an injunction must “state its terms specifically” and “describe in
reasonable detail–and not by referring to the complaint or other document–the act or
acts restrained or required.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(d)(1)(B)-(C). “[T]he degree of specificity
with which plaintiffs must describe the injunctive relief requested becomes more
exacting as the litigation progresses: the complaint need only be specific enough to
satisfy our notice pleading standards”, while “the motion for relief or proposed injunction
must of course itself be specific enough to comport with Rule 65(d).” Shook v. Bd. of
Cnty. Comm’rs of County of El Paso, 543 F.3d 597, 606 n.4 (10th Cir. 2008).
Much of the relief that plaintiff requests in his motion is unrelated to plaintiff’s
claims in this lawsuit. Specifically, plaintiff seeks to undo his December 2014 transfer
from CTCF to SCF, an alteration of his prisoner file to change the nature of his
convictions, and an order concerning transfer of medical records so that plaintiff will not
be required to undergo testing for tuberculosis. See generally Docket No. 71. These
forms of relief are beyond the scope of the claims in the operative complaint, which
concern denial of plaintiff’s ability to practice his religious beliefs between July 2008 and
May 2013. See generally Docket No. 25 at 8-11, ¶¶ 3-32. Plaintiff’s complaint defines
the claims at issue. He may not expand the scope of the complaint through a motion
for injunctive relief. Cf. Occupy Denver v. City & Cnty. of Denver, No. 11-cv-03048REB-MJW, 2011 WL 6096501 at *3 (Dec. 7, 2011) (not proper or equitable for plaintiff
to expand the scope of claims through evidence not specified in complaint). The Court,
therefore, denies plaintiff’s motion with respect to the above-described requests for
Regarding the remaining two forms of injunctive relief that plaintiff seeks,
permitting plaintiff to observe the holy days and access to a diet that comports with the
tenets of his faith, the Court finds that the allegations in plaintiff’s motion are too
general to allow the Court to issue an injunction that meets the specificity requirements
of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(d). Plaintiff must meet a heightened burden
because he seeks an injunction that (1) disturbs the status q uo and (2) is mandatory
rather than prohibitory. Kikumura, 242 F.3d at 955. As the Court previously advised
plaintiff in denying an earlier motion for injunctive relief, see Docket No. 58 at 8-9, any
order granting injunctive relief must “state its terms specifically” and “describe in
reasonable detail – and not by referring to the complaint or other document – the act or
acts restrained or required.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(d)(1)(B)-(C). Plaintiff requests that he
be permitted to “observe the holy days at their appointed times” and that he be “offered
a diet to comport with the tenets of his faith.” Docket No. 71 at 2. Yet plaintiff does not
identify the relevant holy days, nor does he describe with any sort of precision the
requirements of a diet that would not offend his religious beliefs.1 In light of this lack of
specificity, the Court cannot grant injunctive relief because the resulting order would be
impermissibly vague. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(d); Shook, 543 F.3d at 606 n.4 (a “motion
The Court notes that, in support of his previous motion for a preliminary
injunction, plaintiff attempted to provide certain specifics concerning the dates of holy
days and the requirements of a faith-compliant diet. See Docket No. 57 at 1-2. The
Court rejected plaintiff’s motion because the information plaintiff provided was not
sufficient for the Court to issue injunctive relief that met the specificity requirements of
Rule 65(d). See Docket No. 58 at 8-9. Here, plaintiff provides no information
concerning the precise accommodations he seeks.
for relief or proposed injunction must of course itself be specific enough to comport with
Moreover, as the Court found in denying plaintiff’s previous motion for injunctive
relief, plaintiff’s lack of specificity prevents him from showing a likelihood of success on
the merits because, “[u]nless the defendants know what they may be required to do or
not do to comply with an injunction, it is difficult for them to adequately respond to the
question of whether their current practices serve a compelling governmental interest or
are the least restrictive means to further that interest under the RLUIPA.” Docket No.
58 at 9 (citing Yellowbear v. Lampert, 741 F.3d 48, 56-57 (10th Cir. 2014)). W ithout
detailed information, the Court is not in a position to balance the burden on plaintif f’s
exercise of his sincerely held religious beliefs and the penological interest justifying the
regulation. See Boles v. Neet, 486 F.3d 1177, 1181-82 (“the question of whether a
prison regulation reasonably curtails constitutional rights requires close examination of
the facts of each case, the specific regulation under review, and the alleged
justifications for it”).
Because plaintiff has failed to meet his burden of showing a likelihood of success
on the merits, the Court need not address the other f actors relevant to a motion for
injunctive relief. See RoDa Drilling, 552 F.3d at 1208.
For the foregoing reasons, it is
ORDERED that the Motion for Injunctive Relief or Other Remedy [Docket No. 71]
filed by plaintiff David B. Hoeck is DENIED.
DATED August 20, 2015.
BY THE COURT:
s/Philip A. Brimmer
PHILIP A. BRIMMER
United States District Judge
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