Ali v. Markell et al
MEMORANDUM. Signed by Judge Gregory M. Sleet on 10/20/17. (rwc)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
a/kJa Shamsidin Ali,
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION,
) Civ. Action No. 15-1184-GMS
The plaintiff, Robert Saunders ("Saunders"), a prisoner housed at the James T. Vaughn
Correctional Center ("VCC"), Smyrna, Delaware, filed a civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42
U.S.c. § 1983. On September 12,2017, Saunders filed a motion for a preliminary injunction and
temporary restraining order with supporting memorandum. (D.L 62,63.) Therein, he seeks a
regular weekly schedule to use the law library and the regular use of a type\vriter. The
defendants oppose. (D.L 64.) Also before the court are Saunders' requests for default as to
Roxanne Kinlock ("Kinlock"), William Lynch ("Lynch"), and Laurie Spraga ("Spraga")
("medical defendants"). (D.L 55, 56, 57.) The medical defendants oppose. (D.L 59.)
A prison hostage situation that resulted in the death of a correctional officer and injuries
to other officers and inmates occurred in February 2017 at the VCC. Saunders states that prior to
February 1,2017, the VCC had a weekly schedule that allowed him to visit the law library twice
a week. Following the hostage incident, the VCC instituted a policy that allows inmates law
library access only if there is a scheduling deadline. In addition, Saunders was allowed to use a
typewriter in the prison law library. He asks the court to enter an order directing the defendants
to return to the law library schedule in place before the hostage incident and for the purchase of a
typewriter for use in Saunders' housing unit.
A party seeking a preliminary injunction must show: (1) a likelihood of success on the
merits; (2) that it will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is denied; (3) that granting
preliminary relief will not result in even greater harm to the nonmoving party; and (4) that the
public interest favors such relief. Kos Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Andrx Corp., 369 F.3d 700, 708
(3d Cir. 2004) (citation omitted). "Preliminary injunctive relief is 'an extraordinary remedy' and
'should be granted only in limited circumstances. '" Id. (citations omitted). Because of the
intractable problems of prison administration, a request for injunctive relief in the prison context
must be viewed with considerable caution. Abraham v. Danberg, 322 F. App'x 169, 170 (3d Cir.
2009) (unpublished) (citing Goffv. Harper, 60 F.3d 518,520 (8th Cir. 1995».
Prisoners maintain a "fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts," embodied
in the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 346 (1996) (quoting
Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 828 (1977». Meaningful access to the courts is the touchstone,
there is no "abstract, freestanding right to a law library or legal assistance." Lewis, 518 U.S. at
351. To prove a denial of meaningful access to the courts, Saunders must demonstrate (1)
"actual injury,' such as the loss or rejection of a legal claim"; and (2) that the lost or rejected
legal claim is not frivolous. Saunders v. Philadelphia. Dist. Attorney's Office, 546 F. App'x 68,
72 (3d Cir. 2013) (unpublished) (quoting Oliver v. Fauver, 118 F.3d 175,177 (3d Cir. 1997).
Here, Saunders is provided law library access, albeit not to the extend allowed before the
prison hostage situation. In addition, he has failed to demonstrate actual injury as a result of the
change in the law library schedule. In addition, there is no constitutional right to have access to a
typewriter while in prison. See Jacobs v. District Attorney's Office, 2013 WL 3773419 (M.D.
Pa. July 17,2013) (citing Lindquist v. Idaho State Bd. a/Carr., 776 F.2d 851, 858 (9 th Cir. 1983).
Should Saunders need additional time to comply with court deadlines due to the current prison
law library schedule and the lack of the use of a typewriter, he has the option of seeking seek
additional time from the court. Given the record currently before the court, the court finds that
Saunders has not demonstrated that he will suffer irreparable harm or there is a likelihood of
success on the merits. Therefore, the court will deny the motion for injunctive relief. (OJ. 62.)
REQUEST FOR DEFAULT
On July 17,2017, Saunders filed requests for default as to Kinlock, Lynch, and Spraga.
(0.1.55,56,57.) The medical defendants oppose. (0.1.59.) As they properly note, the docket
entries incorrectly indicate that Kinlock and Spraga have been served. Kinlock, Lynch, and
Spraga have not been served. The court will direct correction of the court docket. Therefore, the
court will deny the requests for default. (0.1. 55, 56, 57.)
For the above reasons, the court will: (1) deny the plaintiff's motion for injunctive relief
(0.1.62); and (2) deny the plaintiff's requests for default (0.1. 55,56,57).
An appropriate order will be entered.
ATES DISTRICt JUDGE
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