Little et al v. Mottern et al
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry). Signed by Honorable Yvette Kane on 3/7/17. (rw)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
MICHAEL L. LITTLE, et al.,
B. MOTTERN, et al.,
Plaintiffs Michael R. Little and Kareem H. Milhouse,
inmates confined at the United States Penitentiary at Lewisburg,
Pennsylvania (“USP-Lewisburg”), filed the instant civil rights
complaint pro se pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and Bivens v. Six
Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388
Currently pending before the court is a motion entitled
“Motion for Injunction.” (Doc. No. 156.)
Little requests that he
be transferred to a state prison, separated from District of
Columbia inmates and immediately be transferred to a “holdover
facility until arrangement [are] complete[d] for state placement.”
(Id. at 4.)
Little previously filed similar motions (Doc. Nos.
67, 82) which were fully briefed by the parties and denied by the
court. (Doc. Nos. 124, 127.)
For the reasons set forth below, the
motion for the issuance of an injunction directing that he be
transferred to a state facility will be denied.
Preliminary injunctive relief is extraordinary in
nature, and is discretionary with the trial judge.
Orson, Inc. v.
Miramax Film Corp., 836 F. Supp. 309, 311 (E.D. Pa. 1993) (citing
Skehan v. Board of Trustees of Bloomsburg State College, 353 F.
Supp. 542 (M.D. Pa. 1973)).
In determining whether to grant a
motion seeking preliminary injunctive relief, courts in the Third
Circuit consider the following four factors:
(1) the likelihood
that the applicant will prevail on the merits; (2) the extent to
which the movant is being irreparably harmed by the conduct
complained of; (3) the extent to which the non-moving party will
suffer irreparable harm if the preliminary injunction is issued;
and (4) whether granting preliminary injunctive relief will be in
the public interest.
S & R Corp. v. Jiffy Lube Int'l, Inc., 968
F.2d 371, 374 (3d Cir. 1992) (citing Hoxworth v. Blinder, Robinson
& Co., 903 F.2d 186, 197-98 (3d Cir. 1990)); Instant Air Freight
v. C.F. Air Freight, Inc., 882 F.2d 797, 800 (3d Cir. 1989);
Premier Dental Prods. Co. v. Darby Dental Supply Co., 794 F.2d
850, 852 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 950 (1986).
It is the
moving party that bears the burden of demonstrating these factors.
See Dorfman v. Moorhous, No. Civ. A. 93-6120, 1993 WL 483166 at *1
(E.D. Pa., Nov. 24, 1993).
Perhaps the most important prerequisite for the issuance
of a preliminary injunction is a demonstration that if it is not
granted, the applicant is likely to suffer irreparable harm before
a decision on the merits can be rendered.
Continental Group, Inc.
v. Amoco Chems. Corp., 614 F.2d 351, 356 (3d Cir. 1980); see
Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil Sec. 2948
at 431 (1973).
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has defined
irreparable injury as "potential harm which cannot be redressed by
a legal or equitable remedy following a trial." Instant Air
Freight, 882 F.2d at 801.
A court may not grant preliminary
injunctive relief unless "[t]he preliminary injunction [is] the
only way of protecting the plaintiff from harm."
Id. The relevant
inquiry is whether the party moving for the injunctive relief is
in danger of suffering the irreparable harm at the time the
preliminary injunction is to be issued.
SI Handling Sys., Inc. v.
Heisley, 753 F.2d 1244, 1264 (3d Cir. 1985).
Clearly, speculative injury does not constitute a
showing of irreparable harm.
Continental, 614 F.2d at 359; see
also Public Serv. Co. v. West Newbury, 835 F.2d 380, 383 (1st Cir.
"The possibility that adequate compensatory or other
corrective relief will be available at a later date, in the
ordinary course of litigation, weighs heavily against a claim of
Instant Air Freight, 882 F.2d at 801 (quoting
Sampson v. Murray, 415 U.S. 61, 90 (1964)).
It is abundantly clear that Little has not shown that he
deserves preliminary injunctive relief according to the pertinent
legal standards outlined above.
Initially, Little has not made a
strong showing that he is likely to prevail on the merits.
It is well-settled that a prisoner has no justifiable
expectation that he will be incarcerated in a particular prison.
Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238, 245 (1983). An inmate does not
have a constitutional right to choose his place of confinement,
security classification, any particular housing assignment or
cellmate. Id.; Montanye v. Haymes, 427 U.S. 236, 242 (1976)
Moody v. Daggett, 429 U.S. 78, 88 (1976); Meachum v. Fano, 427
U.S. 215, 225 (1976); Murray v. Bledsoe, 650 F.3d 246, 247 (3d
Burger v. U.S. Bureau of Prisons, 65 F.3d 48 (5th
Cir. 1995). In Murray, the Third Circuit in addressing whether the
Ninth Amendment established “a right to choose one’s cellmate”
noted that “courts confronted with the question . . . have held
that no such right exists.” 650 F.3d at 247.
With respect to federal prisoners, the Bureau of Prisons
has the power, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b), to "transfer a
prisoner from one facility to another at any time."
Federal Bureau of Prisons, 981 F.2d 466, 469 n.3 (10th Cir. 1992),
cert. denied, 510 U.S. 830, 114 S. Ct. 98 (1993); Cardenas v.
Wigen, 921 F. Supp. 286, 291 (E.D. Pa. 1996).
authorizes the Bureau "to designate the place of confinement for
purposes of serving federal sentences of imprisonment."
Keohane, 921 F.2d 476 (3d Cir. 1991).
"If the prisoner can be
lawfully held in the facility to which he has been transferred, he
cannot object to that transfer, even if the transfer results in
his being placed in a more restrictive or less accessible
Ali v. Gibson, 631 F.2d 1126, 1135 (3d Cir. 1980).
is clear that decisions regarding Little’s designation are within
the sound discretion of the BOP.
Since Little does not enjoy a
constitutional right to be housed in a particular correctional
facility, the denial of his request to be transferred to another
prison does not assert a cognizable claim.
In sum, a prisoner does not have a protected liberty
interest in matters of classification or particular custody
status, and none is provided by federal law.
Hewitt v. Helms, 459
U.S. 460 (1983); Montanye, 427 U.S. at 242; Stephany v. Wagner,
835 F.2d 497 (3d Cir. 1987).
An inquiry by this Court into
matters of prison administration, such as classification or
custody status, would necessarily interfere with the
administration's right to police its penal system.
administration determinations have consistently and correctly been
left to the prison management's sound discretion.
Latney, 382 F. Supp. 161, 162 (E.D. Va. 1974); Pope v. Williams,
426 F. Supp. 279 (E.D. Pa. 1971).
Thus, "as long as the
conditions or degree of confinement to which the prisoner is
subjected is within the sentence imposed upon him and is not
otherwise violative of the constitution, the Due Process Clause
does not in itself subject an inmate's treatment by prison
authorities to judicial oversight."
Montanye, 427 U.S. at 242.
An appropriate order will be entered.
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