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Goss v. Stirling

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

September 17, 2019

Darrell L. Goss, Plaintiff,
v.
Bryan P. Stirling; Charles Williams; Joel Anderson; Aaron Joyner; Michael Stephen; Scott Lewis; Willie Davis; Richard Cothran; Levern Cohen; Donnie E. Stonebreaker; Terrie Wallace; Gary Lane; John Pate; Patricia Yeldell, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          SHIVA V. HODGES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Darrell L. Goss (“Plaintiff), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this action alleging increased violence in 13 institutions of the South Carolina Department of Corrections (“SCDC”) resulting from an influx of gang members, prison overcrowding, and understaffing. [ECF No. 1]. This matter comes before the court on Plaintiffs motion for a preliminary injunction. [ECF No. 131].

         All pretrial proceedings in this case were referred to the undersigned pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d) (D.S.C.). Because the motion requests injunctive relief, it is dispositive, and this Report and Recommendation is entered for the district judge's consideration.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         In his motion, Plaintiff requests an order from this court requiring the defendants to photocopy his handwritten legal papers for his own use in responding to future motions in this case. [ECF No. 131]. He argues that he used to receive these copies, but was informed he will no longer receive them. He argues that this refusal violates South Carolina Department of Corrections (“SCDC”) policy GA-01.03, Section 12.1, which “explains that inmates may receive photocopies of documents that are related to ‘challenging or appealing the inmate's sentence' or challenging the ‘conditions of his/her confinement.'” Id. at 2. He also cites Section 12.2, which qualifies Section 12.1 by stating that “[d]ocuments that have been solely originated, generated, written, typed or created by an inmate” will not be photocopied. Id.

         Defendants' response cites Section 12.2's exclusion of inmates' handwritten documents from SCDC's copy policy. [ECF No. 139 at 3]. Defendants note that, while copying of handwritten documents was previously provided to Plaintiff, it was stopped because Plaintiff is in arrears to SCDC for $6, 271.45, a sum that included costs for copies from litigation efforts dating back to 2012. Id. at 4.

         II. Discussion

         A. Standard of Review

         A party seeking a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order must establish all four of the following elements: (1) he is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) the balance of equities tips in his favor; and (4) an injunction is in the public interest. Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008); The Real Truth About Obama, Inc. v. Federal Election Comm'n, 575 F.3d 342, 346-47 (4th Cir. 2009), overruling Blackwelder Furniture Co. of Statesville v. Seilig Mfg. Co., 550 F.2d 189 (4th Cir. 1977).[1] A plaintiff must make a clear showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits of his claim. Winter, 555 U.S. at 22; Real Truth, 575 F.3d at 345-46. Similarly, he must make a clear showing that he is likely to be irreparably harmed absent injunctive relief. Winter, 555 U.S. at 19‒20; Real Truth, 575 F.3d at 347. Only then may the court consider whether the balance of equities tips in the party's favor. See Real Truth, 575 F.3d at 346-47.[2] Finally, the court must pay particular regard to the public consequences of employing the extraordinary relief of injunction. Real Truth, 575 F.3d at 347 (quoting Winter, 555 U.S. at 19-23).

         B. Analysis

         First, Plaintiff has not demonstrated a clear likelihood of success on the merits. His motion for a preliminary injunction is unrelated to the facts of this case, and he seeks to improperly bootstrap his claim regarding photocopying rights to this case. Additionally, in his motion he fails to include any arguments as to the likelihood of success on the merits of his underlying claims.

         Plaintiff has also failed to show that he is likely to suffer irreparable injury if relief is not granted. Plaintiff's only injury will be that he will need to forego copies of documents he submits or will be forced to make a handwritten copy.

         Plaintiff fails to show that the balance of equities tips in his favor, as he has failed to pay SCDC for the substantial litigation costs he has accumulated. Nor does an injunction serve the public interest.

         Because Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate he is entitled to a preliminary ...


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