United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE, INC., by and through its Myrtle Beach Branch, SIMUEL JONES, LESLIE STEVENSON, CEDRIC STEVENSON, HARRY BRIGGS, NOVICE BRIGGS, KENNETH COLEMAN, TYRONE KINARD, and WILLIAM LASSITER Plaintiffs,
CITY OF MYRTLE BEACH, a municipal corporation within the State of South Carolina, and CITY OF MYRTLE BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT, a department of the City of Myrtle Beach, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS'
MOTION FOR A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiffs in this lawsuit are the National Association for
the Advancement of Colored People, Inc. (the NAACP), Simuel
Jones, Leslie Stevenson, Cedric Stevenson, Harry Briggs,
Novice Briggs, Kenneth Coleman, Tyrone Kinard, and William
Lassiter (collectively, Plaintiffs). They filed this lawsuit
against Defendants City of Myrtle Beach and the City of
Myrtle Beach Police Department (collectively, Defendants)
complaining of violations of: (Count 1) 42 U.S.C. §
1981, (Count 2) their First Amendment Rights, 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, (Count 3) their Fourteenth Amendment Rights, 42
U.S.C. § 1983, (Count 4) their rights under the Dormant
Commerce Clause, and (Count 5) Title VI of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d.
before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary
injunction. Having carefully considered the motion, the
response and amended response, the replies, the record, and
the relevant law, the Court is of the opinion the motion
should be denied.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
year, during the month of May, hundreds of thousands of
motorcycle enthusiasts from around the country gather in the
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina area for each of two separate
motorcycle rallies.” Amended Complaint ¶ 1.
“In the middle of the month, motorcycle enthusiasts
gather for the Myrtle Beach Bike Week Spring Rally (Harley
Week).” Id. (internal quotation marks
vast majority of the Harley Week participants are white . . .
. Two weeks later, over the Memorial Day weekend, motorcycle
enthusiasts gather for Atlantic Beach Bikefest (Black Bike
Week).” Id. (internal quotation marks
omitted). “The vast majority of Black Bike Week
visitors are African American, ” and according to
Plaintiffs, “the event historically has been met with
opposition and resistance from the City of Myrtle Beach and
many local businesses.” Id.
complain “[t]he hostility toward Black Bike Week has
led to a number of restrictive governmental policies that
were first challenged . . . in an action filed in this Court
in 2003.” Id. ¶ 2. “That suit
alleged that the City of Myrtle Beach imposed an unequal and
unjustified traffic plan during Black Bike Week and that the
plan was motivated by racial discrimination, interfered with
the rally, and discouraged participation.” Id.
plaintiffs in that case argued that Black Bike Week should be
treated the same as Harley Week.” Id.
“United States District Court Judge Terry Wooten found
that the differences in the traffic plans between Black Bike
Week and Harley Week were likely motivated by race and
therefore likely unconstitutional.” Id.
Wooten granted the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary
injunction and ordered the City to implement similar traffic
plans for the two events.” Id. Thereafter, the
Fourth Circuit stayed Judge Wooten's Order.
Defendants' Response to Plaintiffs' Motion, Exhibit
4. “The parties in that action ultimately settled the
case with the City agreeing to a consent order that required
the City to maintain similar operations plans for Black Bike
Week and Harley Week for the following five years.”
Amended Complaint ¶ 2. That agreement ended on July 31,
1999 until 2010[, ] traffic . . . flowed one way south on
Ocean Boulevard during Memorial Day Weekend.” Amy Prock
(Prock) Affidavit ¶ 2. “In 2011, the City chose to
allow traffic on Ocean Boulevard to flow in both directions
during Memorial Day Weekend.” Id.
safety issues and traffic issues began to increase with two
way traffic along Ocean Boulevard.” Id.
“In 2013, members of the Myrtle Beach Police
Department[, ] together with other law enforcement agencies[,
] approached the City Manager for the City of Myrtle Beach
and requested the City return to one way traffic for
[M]emorial Day Weekend.” Id. “Their
request was denied.” Id.
attests “[i]n 2013, public safety issues and traffic
issues continued to increase.” Id. ¶ 3.
“In 2014, nine shooting incidents[, ] including three
homicides[, ] occurred during Memorial Day Weekend in the
areas where Ocean Boulevard is located.” Id.
the problems occurred [during] Memorial Day Weekend 2014, an
association of city mayors and Horry County leaders[, ] known
as Coastal Alliance, formed a . . . Task Force to address
the public safety problems arising during Memorial Day
Weekend.” Id. ¶ 5. “The City of
Myrtle Beach, the Myrtle Beach Police Department and the
Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce held a summit of public
safety officials to focus on special events and problems and
issues similar to the ones that arose in Myrtle Beach on
Memorial [Day] Weekend.” Id.
consensus of the summit was that to improve public safety,
local governments had to keep pedestrians and vehicular
traffic moving at all times.” Id. “The
public safety officers with experience in events such as
Memorial Day Weekend in the City recommended using a traffic
chute to keep vehicular traffic moving during peak limes of
the planning sessions for the . . . Task Force[, ] several
traffic loops were proposed by different members of the
[T]ask [F]orce.” Id. ¶ 6. “The City
of Myrtle Beach proposed a traffic loop that was rejected by
the [T]ask [F]orce.” Id. “Eventually, a
traffic loop that was acceptable to all members of the . . .
Task Force was chosen by the . . . Task Force and put in
traffic loop runs in the City of Myrtle Beach on roads
controlled by the City and it runs for approximately
[seventeen] miles on roads controlled by [the South Carolina
Department of Transportation (SCDOT)].” Id.
¶ 7. “The traffic loop is put into operation on
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights of Memorial Day Weekend
between the hours of 10:00 [PM] and 2:00 [AM].”
traffic loop[, ] together with limited ingress and egress[, ]
annually receives written approval from the [SCDOT, ] which
is ultimately responsible for the use of all state
roads.” Id. “Under the current . . .
Task Force plan, the City of Myrtle Beach can close the
traffic loop early if it is no longer needed.”
Id. ¶ 8.
the second motion for a preliminary injunction Plaintiffs
have filed in this lawsuit. In their initial motion,
“Plaintiffs sought an order requiring [Defendants] to
maintain a substantially similar traffic plan during the 2018
Black Bike Week as the one it maintains during Harley
Week.” Plaintiffs' Motion 18. Judge Marvin
Quattlebaum denied their motion. NAACP v. City of Myrtle
Beach, No. 4:18-CV-00554, 2018 WL 2332018 (D.S.C. May
motion for a preliminary injunction is more limited than the
first. In the present motion, Plaintiffs seek an Order from
this Court directing Defendants suspend operation of the
traffic loop during the 2019 Black Bike Week. Here,
Plaintiffs do not challenge the other restrictions on Black
Bike Week alleged in their amended complaint.
Court has been fully briefed on all the relevant issues and
is thus prepared to rule on the motion in accordance with the
standards it details below.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Factors to Consider
“[P]reliminary injunctions are intended to meet exigent
circumstances[.]” Ideal Toy Corp. v. Plawner Toy
Mfg. Corp., 685 F.2d 78, 84 (3d Cir. 1982). It “is
an extraordinary remedy never awarded as of right.”
Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7,
24 (2008). “[T]he party seeking the injunction must
prove his own case and adduce the requisite proof, by a
preponderance of the evidence, of the conditions and
circumstances upon which he bases the right to and necessity
for injunctive relief.” Citizens Concerned for
Separation of Church & State v. City of Denver, 628
F.2d 1289, 1299 (10th Cir. 1980).
preliminary injunction should issue only when the plaintiffs
can “ establish that [they are] likely to succeed on
the merits,  that [they are] likely to suffer irreparable
harm in the absence of preliminary relief,  that the
balance of equities tips in [their] favor, and  that an
injunction is in the public interest.” Winter,
555 U.S. at 20. The burden is on the party seeking injunctive
relief to show it is entitled to the relief, not the burden
of the other party to show the movant is not entitled.
Granny Goose Foods, Inc. v. Bhd. of Teamsters, 415
U.S. 423, 443 (1974).
four requirements must be satisfied.” Real Truth
About Obama, Inc. v. Fed. Election Comm'n, 575 F.3d
342, 346 (4th Cir. 2009). Thus, even a strong showing of
likely success on the merits cannot compensate for failure to
show likely injury. Winter, 555 U.S. at 21-22. And,
irreparable injury alone is insufficient to support equitable
relief. See Id. at 23 (holding irreparable injury
was likely to occur, but holding an injunction was improper
because of the burden on the government and impact on public
interest). In other words, “[a] preliminary injunction
shall be granted only if the moving party clearly establishes
entitlement.” Di Biase v. SPX Corp., 872 F.3d
224, 230 (4th Cir. 2017).
[the] limited purpose [of a preliminary injunction], and
given the haste that is often necessary . . ., a preliminary
injunction is customarily granted on the basis of procedures
that are less formal and evidence that is less complete than
in a trial on the merits.” Univ. of Tex. v.
Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 395 (1981). “Because
preliminary injunction proceedings are informal ones designed
to prevent irreparable harm before a later trial governed by
the full rigor of usual evidentiary standards, district
courts may look to, and indeed in appropriate circumstances
rely on, hearsay or other inadmissible evidence when deciding
whether a preliminary injunction is warranted.”
G.G. ex rel. Grimm v. Gloucester Cty. Sch. Bd., 822
F.3d 709, 725-26 (4th Cir. 2016), vacated and remanded on
other grounds, 137 S.Ct. 1239 (2017).
Prohibitory or Mandatory
preliminary injunction may be characterized as being either
prohibitory or mandatory.” League of Women Voters
of N. C. v. North Carolina, 769 F.3d 224, 235 (4th Cir.
2014). “Whereas mandatory injunctions alter the status
quo [generally by requiring the non-movant to do something],
prohibitory injunctions aim to maintain the status quo and
prevent irreparable harm while a lawsuit remains
pending.” Id. at 236 (citation omitted)
(internal quotation marks omitted). The Fourth Circuit has
“defined the status quo for this purpose to be the last
uncontested status between the parties which preceded the
controversy.” Id. (citation omitted) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
preliminary injunctive relief in any circumstance is
disfavored, and warranted only in the most extraordinary
circumstances.” Taylor v. Freeman, 34 F.3d
266, 270 n.2 (4th Cir. 1994) (citation omitted). Or, put
differently, “It is fundamental that mandatory
injunctive relief should be granted only under compelling
circumstances inasmuch as it is a harsh remedial process not
favored by the courts.” Citizens Concerned for
Separation of Church & State, 628 F.2d at 1299.
Fourth Circuit has stated, “Because preliminary
injunctions are extraordinary remedies involving the exercise
of very far-reaching power, [it] should be particularly
exacting in its use of the abuse of discretion standard when
it reviews an order granting a preliminary injunction.”
Pashby v. Delia, 709 F.3d 307, 319 (4th Cir. 2013)
(citations omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted)
(alteration marks omitted). “Furthermore, when the
preliminary injunction is mandatory rather than prohibitory
in nature, [the Fourth ...