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Matlock v. Franklin

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

March 14, 2019

BARRY W. MATLOCK, Plaintiff,
v.
FRANKLIN, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JON E. DEGUILIO JUDGE

         Barry W. Matlock, a prisoner without a lawyer, was granted leave to proceed against Mr. Sonnenberg, Warden Sevier, Sgt. Collier, Sgt. Flakes, Sgt. Yancy, Sgt. Mottshagen, and Sgt. Franklin in their official capacities for injunctive relief to cease retaliating against him for exercising his First Amendment rights, and in their individual capacities for monetary damages for retaliating against him for exercising those rights. Matlock was also granted leave to proceed against Warden Sevier in his official capacity for injunctive relief to provide adequate protection from members of the prison staff and Vice Lords that have threatened him, as required by the Eighth Amendment. Matlock has now filed a number of motions with the court, each of which is addressed below.

         Motions Seeking Injunctive Relief

         Matlock seeks a temporary restraining order (ECF 26) and preliminary injunction (ECF 27) against Sgt. Porter, Mr. Sonnenberg, Warden Sevier, Sgt. Collier, Sgt. Flakes, Sgt. Yancy, Sgt. Mottshagen, Sgt. Franklin, and Larry Crittenden. More specifically, he asks that he be separated from the staff that are retaliating against him by either moving him to a different location or moving the staff members.

         “[A] preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy, one that should not be granted unless the movant, by a clear showing, carries the burden of persuasion.” Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972 (1997). To obtain a preliminary injunction, the moving party must show (1) he will suffer irreparable harm before the final resolution of his claims; (2) available remedies at law are inadequate; and (3) he has a likelihood of success on the merits. See BBL, Inc. v. City of Angola, 809 F.3d 317, 323-24 (7th Cir. 2015). The court then “weighs the competing harms to the parties if an injunction is granted or denied and also considers the public interest.” Korte v. Sebelius, 735 F.3d 654, 665 (7th Cir. 2013). Furthermore, under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, injunctive relief must be “narrowly drawn, extend no further than necessary to remedy the constitutional violation, and must use the least intrusive means to correct the violation of the federal right.” Westefer v. Neal, 682 F.3d 679, 681 (7th Cir. 2012).

The PLRA circumscribes the scope of the court's authority to enter an injunction in the corrections context. Where prison conditions are found to violate federal rights, remedial injunctive relief must be narrowly drawn, extend no further than necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right, and use the least intrusive means necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right. This section of the PLRA enforces a point repeatedly made by the Supreme Court in cases challenging prison conditions: Prison officials have broad administrative and discretionary authority over the institutions they manage.

Westefer v. Neal, 682 F.3d 679, 683 (7th Cir. 2012) (quotation marks, brackets, and citations omitted).

         As explained in this court's screening order (ECF 24 n. 2), Matlock's amended complaint does not allege facts that provide a basis for granting a preliminary injunction because it does not detail specific threats demonstrating he would suffer irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction. Matlock's current requests for injunctive relief do detail some specific threats made by Sgt. Porter after his amended complaint was filed. Specifically, Matlock asserts that, on February 25, 2019, Sgt. Porter directed another officer to search Matlock's cell and the following day Sgt. Porter asked Matlock how he liked his shake down and then laughed and said, “it wasn't over whiteboy and Matlock could expect more to come.” (ECF 26 at 1; ECF 27 at 2.) Then, on March 3, 2019, Sgt, Porter told Matlock that “he should watch his cell location because it would be a shame if drugs or a weapon were found in his possession.” (ECF 26 at 2; ECF 27 at 2.) On March 7, 2019, Sgt. Porter told Matlock “he had better watch his back and his bed area was fair game.” (ECF 26-1 at 1-2.) She also indicated that Matlock “was lucky he didn't make commissary that day” as “it would've been a terrible thing had Matlock been robbed as bad things happen in prison where the bad people are.” (ECF 26-1 at 2.)

         While Matlock has attempted to obtain injunctive relief against numerous defendants, he also seeks injunctive relief against Sgt. Porter and Larry Crittenden, neither of whom are defendants. Matlock may also be seeking injunctive relief against Jody Kufferber, who is also not a defendant. (ECF 26-1 at 1.)

[a]n injunction, like any “enforcement action, ” may be entered only against a litigant, that is, a party that has been served and is under the jurisdiction of the district court. Lake Shore Asset Mgmt., Ltd. v. Commodity Futures Trading Comm'n, 511 F.3d 762, 767 (7th Cir. 2007); see also Audio Enters., Inc. v. B & W Loudspeakers, 957 F.2d 406, 410 (7th Cir. 1992) (vacating preliminary injunction because defendant had not been served).

Maddox v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., 528 Fed.Appx. 669, 672 (7th Cir. 2013). Thus, injunctive relief cannot be granted against Sgt. Porter, Larry Crittenden, or Jody Kufferber.

         To the extent Matlock seeks injunctive relief against the defendants named in this action, Matlock's allegations do not support the granting of the extraordinary relief of a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction. Matlock has not demonstrated that he will suffer irreparable harm before this case can be resolved on the merits. The additional allegations regarding Sgt. Porter's recent threats do not alter this courts previous conclusion that a preliminary injunction is not warranted. Unwarranted shake-downs, unsubstantiated and vague threats of a set-up that could result in a future conduct violation, and being robbed of commissary goods are not the kind of harms that preliminary injunctive relief is intended to remedy. Therefore, Matlock's requests for a temporary restraining order (ECF 26) and preliminary injunction (ECF 27) will be denied.

         Matlock also seeks an order compelling two law library employees, Elizabeth Kennerk and Mr. Hicks, to allow Matlock to access the law library three to five times per week for the duration of this lawsuit. While Matlock has phrased his request as a motion to compel, it is more appropriately construed as another request for preliminary injunctive relief. But it too must be denied because neither Kennerk nor Hicks are defendants in this action. Maddox, 528 Fed.Appx. at 672. Accordingly, the motion to compel (ECF 28 at 2-4) must be denied.[1]

         Motion for ...


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