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Goss v. Stirling

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

August 21, 2018

Darrell L. Goss, Plaintiff,
v.
Bryan P. Stirling; Warden Cothran; Associate Warden J. Dean; G. Leaman, Associate Warden; Major R. Chvala; Captain L. Pack; Captain Staggers; Lieutenant Larry; Warden John R. Pate; Virginia Grubbs, Postal Director; D. Phillips, Assistant Postal Director and Cindy Beer, U.S. Postal Director Defendants.

          MARY GORDON BANKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Report & Recommendation Plaintiff, a state prisoner appearing pro se, seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Before the court is Plaintiff's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order or in the Alternative, Preliminary Injunction. (Dkt. No. 37.) Pursuant to the provisions of Title 28, United States Code, Section 636(b)(1) and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e), D.S.C., all pretrial matters in cases involving pro se litigants are referred to a United States Magistrate Judge for consideration. For the reasons stated herein, this Court recommends that Plaintiff's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order or in the Alternative, Preliminary Injunction (Dkt. No. 37) be denied.

         Plaintiff's Motion seeks a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) against Defendant Bryan P. Stirling (“Stirling”) “from violating his 1st Amendment constitutional right to access the courts and/or in the alternative, a preliminary injunction directing [Stirling] to permit [Plaintiff] to gain possession of his legal materials and to access the law library.” (Dkt. No. 37 at 4.)

         A preliminary injunction “protect[s] the status quo . . . to prevent irreparable harm during the pendency of a lawsuit ultimately to preserve the court's ability to render a meaningful judgment on the merits.” In re Microsoft Corp. Antitrust Litigation, 333 F.3d 517, 525 (4th Cir. 2003) (abrogated on other grounds by eBay, Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C., 547 U.S. 388 (2006)). A preliminary injunction is “an extraordinary remedy never awarded as of right.” Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008). To obtain a TRO or preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must show the following:

(1) That she is likely to succeed on the merits,
(2) that she is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief,
(3) that the balance of equities tips in her favor, and
(4) that an injunction is in the public interest.

Id. at 20.

         Upon review, the Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to make the required showing under Winter. First, Plaintiff has failed to show that he will succeed on the merits. “To prevail on a claim of denial of access to the court, prisoners must demonstrate actual injury.” Long v. Vaughan, 652 Fed.Appx. 176, 178 (4th Cir. 2016) (citing Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 350-51, 116 S.Ct. 2174, 135 L.Ed.2d 606 (1996). “Thus, a prisoner must show that the prison policies “‘hindered his effort to pursue a legal claim.'” Id. (quoting Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351). Here, Plaintiff has not offered any evidence of actual injury resulting from his alleged denial of access to the courts. He has not indicated that he has missed a filing deadline or failed to present a claim as a result of any act of Defendants. Without any evidence that Plaintiff's efforts to pursue a legal claim have been “hindered, ” it is unlikely Plaintiff will succeed on the merits of his First Amendment claim.

         Because there is no evidence of actual injury or even the likelihood of actual injury, Plaintiff has likewise failed to show that he will suffer any irreparable harm. In addition, the balance of the equities does not tip in Plaintiffs favor. Finally, Plaintiff has not shown that an injunction would be in the public interest.

         For the foregoing reasons, this Court recommends that Plaintiffs Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order or in the Alternative, Preliminary Injunction (Dkt. No. 37) be DENIED.

         IT IS SO RECOMMENDED.

         Notice of Right to File Objections to Report and Recommendation

         The parties are advised that they may file specific written objections to this Report and Recommendation with the District Judge. Objections must specifically identify the portions of the Report and Recommendation to which objections are made and the basis for such objections. “[I]n the absence of a timely filed objection, a district court need not conduct a de novo review, but instead must ‘only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the ...


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