United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE
CROW, SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis in this prisoner civil
rights action. At the time of filing, Plaintiff was in
federal custody at USP Leavenworth in Leavenworth, Kansas.
Plaintiff alleges in his Complaint that Defendants have
retaliated against him for filing grievances by delaying his
transfer to a halfway house that was scheduled for November
13, 2018. Plaintiff alleges that his case manager, Defendant
Helm, told Plaintiff that he would take away Plaintiffs
halfway house designation if Plaintiff filed grievances
against him. Plaintiff alleges that his designation was then
delayed without due process. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
Ratz took all of Plaintiffs BP Forms, stamps, address book,
Bible, and pens, to prevent Plaintiff from filing
administrative remedies and legal actions. Plaintiff alleges
that his property was destroyed in response to his hunger
strike, without a disciplinary hearing, and to prevent
Plaintiff from filing a grievance prior to being placed in a
"hard cell." Plaintiff also alleges the Warden is
holding him in the SHU without cause, and that Plaintiff was
told it is due to "administration not liking him."
filed a motion (Doc. 3) seeking an expedited preliminary
injunction based on alleged irreparable harm. Plaintiff asks
the Court to restore his halfway house date, to order his
immediate removal from the SHU, and to order Defendants to
cease all attempts to stop Plaintiff from seeking relief. The
Court entered an Order (Doc. 5) directing Defendants to
respond to the motion. This matter is before the Court on
Defendants' Response (Doc. 7).
Response indicates that Plaintiff has been transferred to a
halfway house, rendering his request for injunctive relief
moot. Defendants state that:
Plaintiff Steven Bell is a federal inmate, and at the time
the Complaint was filed, was housed at the United States
Penitentiary ("USP") located in Leavenworth,
Kansas. (Declaration Heim, Attachment 1, p. 1, ¶ 4).
Plaintiffs projected full-term release date is December 30,
2018. (Id., p. 2, ¶ 5; Exh. A, p. 2). When
Plaintiff was initially transferred to USP Leavenworth, his
projected date for release to a halfway house was November
13, 2018. (Id., ¶ 6; Exh. F). Plaintiff agreed
to a medical hold to obtain medical services, including
surgery and follow-up services. (Id., ¶ 7; Exh.
E). Due to the surgery, Plaintiffs halfway house release date
was moved to December. (Id., p. 3, ¶ 9; Exh.
G). Plaintiff underwent surgery at the end of October, 2018,
which resulted a medical hold, and the release date for the
halfway house to be moved to December. (Id., p. 3,
¶ 9; Exh. D, F, and H). Plaintiffs medical hold was
lifted on November 20, 2018. (Id. ¶ 10; Exhibit
I). Plaintiff was approved for transfer from USP Leavenworth
to a halfway house on November 20, 2018. (Id.,
¶ 11; Exh. B; Exh. J, p. 2). Plaintiff left USP
Leavenworth on November 27, 2018, scheduled to arrive at the
halfway house on November 28, 2018. (Id., p. 3-4,
¶ 11; Exh. B; Exh. J, p. 5).
(Doc. 7, at 1-2) (citing Heim Declaration, Attachment 1).
obtain a preliminary injunction, the moving party must
demonstrate four things: (1) a likelihood of success on the
merits; (2) a likelihood that the movant will suffer
irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3)
that the balance of the equities tip in the movant's
favor; and (4) that the injunction is in the public interest.
little v. Jones, 607 F.3d 1245, 1251 (10th Cir.
2010). "[A] showing of probable irreparable harm is the
single most important prerequisite for the issuance of a
preliminary injunction." Dominion Video Satellite,
Inc. v. Echostar Satellite Corp., 356 F.3d
1256, 1260 (10th Cir. 2004).
preliminary injunction is "an extraordinary remedy that
may only be awarded upon a clear showing that the plaintiff
is entitled to such relief." Winter v. Natural Res.
Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 22 (2008). A preliminary
injunction is appropriate only when the movant's right to
relief is clear and unequivocal. Schrier v. Univ. of
Colo., 427 F.3d 1253, 1258 (10th Cir. 2005). Moreover, a
federal court considering a motion for preliminary injunctive
relief affecting the conditions of a prisoner's
confinement must give "substantial weight to any adverse
impact on public safety" and on prison operation. 18
U.S.C. § 3626(a)(2). Finally, a mandatory preliminary
injunction, such as the one sought by Plaintiff, which
requires the non-moving party to take affirmative action, is
disfavored and therefore requires the moving party to make a
heightened showing of the four factors above.
Little, 607 F.3d at 1251.
has failed to show irreparable harm and his request for
injunctive relief is moot. Plaintiff was transferred to the
halfway house and is no longer housed at USP Leavenworth.
Because Plaintiffs request relates solely to alleged
wrongdoing on the part of USP Leavenworth employees, the
Court would be unable to provide Plaintiff with effective
relief. The Court therefore denies Plaintiffs motion seeking
an expedited preliminary injunction.
also seeks injunctive relief in his Complaint. Such a request
is likewise moot. Article III of the Constitution extends the
jurisdiction of federal courts only to "live,
concrete" cases or controversies. Rio Grande Silvery
Minnow v. Bureau of Reclamation, 601 F.3d 1096, 1109
(10th Cir. 2010). "Article Ill's requirement that
federal courts adjudicate only cases and controversies
necessitates that courts decline to exercise jurisdiction
where the award of any requested relief would be moot-i.e.
where the controversy is no longer live and ongoing."
Cox v. Phelps Dodge Corp., 43 F.3d 1345, 1348 (10th
Cir. 1994), superseded by statute on other grounds.
Consequently, "[m]ootness is a threshold issue because
the existence of a live case or controversy is a
constitutional prerequisite to federal court
jurisdiction." Rio Grande, 601 F.3d at 1109
(internal quotations and citations omitted).
exposure to illegal conduct does not in itself show a present
case or controversy regarding injunctive relief."
O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 4951974). The
Tenth Circuit has applied this principle to § 1983
actions brought by inmates, and held that an inmate's
transfer from one prison to another generally renders moot
any request for injunctive relief against the employees of
the original prison concerning the conditions of confinement.
See Green v. Branson, 108 F.3d 1296, 1299-1300 (10th
Cir. 1997); see also Wirsching v. Colorado, 360 F.3d
1191, 1196 (10th Cir. 2004) (inmate's release from prison
moots his claims for declaratory and injunctive relief);
McAlpine v. Thompson, 187 F.3d 1213, 1215 (10th Cir.
1999) (recognizing prisoner's release from prison mooted
his § 1983 claim for injunctive relief); Love v.
Summit County, 776 F.2d 908, 910 n.4 (10th Cir. 1985)
(noting transfer of inmate to different prison renders his
§ 1983 claim for injunctive relief moot).
mootness doctrine is based on the reality that even if the
inmate receives injunctive relief, the defendants from the
former prison would be unable to provide the relief to
plaintiff. Because Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated at USP
Leavenworth, his claims for injunctive relief are moot and
subject to dismissal.
also seeks $1, 000 per day for each day he was held in the
SHU past November 25, 2018, and $1, 000 per day for each day
he was held at USP Leavenworth past November 13, 2018.
Plaintiffs request for compensatory damages is barred by 42
U.S.C. § 1997e(e), because Plaintiff has failed to
allege a physical injury. Section 1997e(e) provides in
pertinent part that "[n]o Federal civil action may be
brought by a prisoner confined in a jail, prison, or other
correctional facility, for mental or emotional injury
suffered while in custody without a prior showing of physical
injury." 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e).
also filed a Motion to Modify Petition (Doc. 6), seeking to
correct the spelling of Defendant A. Heim's name and to
add a request for $1, 000, 000 in punitive damages. The Court
grants the motion. However, punitive damages "are
available only for conduct which is 'shown to be
motivated by evil motive or intent, or when it involves
reckless or callous indifference to the federally protected
rights of others.'" Searles, 251 F.3d at
879 (quoting Smith v. Wade,461 U.S. 30, 56 (1983)).
Plaintiff presents no plausible basis for a claim of punitive
damages because he alleges no facts ...