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Strange v. Edelen

United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division

November 19, 2019

CHRISTOPHER EDELEN, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, has recently filed an amended civil rights complaint, ECF No. 13, and a motion requesting a preliminary injunction or a temporary restraining order, ECF No. 12. Plaintiff's motion has been considered first.

         Plaintiff requests issuance of an order which would require the Department of Corrections to “turn off all J-Pay owned communications systems . . . . within the State of Florida.” ECF No. 12 at 1. Plaintiff contends the order is needed “to ensure Plaintiff remains safe, along with Plaintiff's family . . . .” Id. However, Plaintiff's motion does not demonstrate how the communications systems is unsafe, or at least, endangers his safety.

         Plaintiff also provided no facts within the motion that demonstrate he faces irreparable harm. Plaintiff is incarcerated at Charlotte Correctional Institution, ECF No. 12 at 4, and none of the named Defendants are located there. All named Defendants are located at Taylor Correctional Institution. ECF No. 13 at 2. Additionally, Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction was not directed to a specific person named as a Defendant in this action. Plaintiff has not identified a particular person to whom an injunction should be directed. Furthermore, any request for relief must be within a named Defendant's ability to provide. One warden at one institution lacks the ability to provide relief throughout the entire State.

         Granting or denying a preliminary injunction is a decision within the discretion of the district court. Carillon Importers, Ltd. v. Frank Pesce Intern. Group Ltd., 112 F.3d 1125, 1126 (11th Cir. 1997) (citing United States v. Lambert, 695 F.2d 536, 539 (11th Cir. 1983)). Preliminary injunctive relief may be granted only if the moving party establishes:

(1) a substantial likelihood of success on the merits;
(2) a substantial threat of irreparable injury unless the injunction issues;
(3) the threatened injury to the movant outweighs whatever harm the proposed injunction may cause the opposing party; and
(4) granting the injunction would not be adverse to the public interest.

Keeton v. Anderson-Wiley, 664 F.3d 865, 868 (11th Cir. 2011); Carillon Importers, Ltd., 112 F.3d at 1126; United States v. Jefferson Cnty., 720 F.2d 1511, 1519 (11th Cir. 1983). To be entitled to a preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must demonstrate all four prerequisites. Siegel v. LePore, 234 F.3d 1163, 1176 (11th Cir. 2000); Jefferson Cnty., 720 F.2d at 1519 (citing Canal Auth. v. Callaway, 489 F.2d 567 (5th Cir. 1974)). In this case, Plaintiff provided only conclusory assertions rather than factual allegations. His motion is insufficient to demonstrate entitlement to relief.

         Moreover, Plaintiff's complaint requests injunctive relief as well as compensatory and punitive damages. ECF No. 13 at 11-12. The availability of monetary damages means that Plaintiff has not shown irreparable injury. Jefferson Cnty., 720 F.2d at 1520 (finding “[t]he 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 irreparable harm.”). Thus, for all these reasons, Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction should be denied.

         Plaintiff's amended complaint has also been reviewed. ECF No. 13. Plaintiff alleges that in October 2018, he was threatened by a gang member. ECF No. 13 at 6. When Plaintiff returned to his dormitory, he was attacked by gang members. Id. Plaintiff acknowledges, however, that he “remained silent” about concerns for his safety, id., and there is no indication within the complaint that he alerted any prison official to his concerns or a need for protection from gang members. Plaintiff alleges that after another altercation with a gang member in February 2019, he was transferred to a different housing assignment “due to gang” affiliations. Id. at 6-7.

         In March 2019, Plaintiff states that he attempted to mail a letter to the Philadelphia Trumpet in which he provided information about the “unsecure” J-Pay system. ECF No. 13 at 7. Plaintiff alleges that his letter was returned with an “unauthorized mail return” receipt and his “valid unused postal stamp” was torn off the returned envelope. Id. Plaintiff suggests there were irregularities with his returned mail. Id. Although he was informed by Defendant Kitzmiller that the “mail was sent out and returned as undeliverable, ” Plaintiff contends that Defendants Kitzmiller and Edelen violated his constitutional rights. Id. at 8.

         In May 2019, Plaintiff states that he filed a grievance in which he requested the institution “remove all of J-Pay & Securus communications” because gangs are able to use the system for drug transactions, human traffficking, and other nefarious uses. Id. Plaintiff's grievance was returned with a response advising that staff at Taylor Correctional Institution lack the ability to either authorize or deny access to J-Pay. Id. at 8-9. Plaintiff's appeal was similarly ineffective, and Plaintiff was informed ...

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