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Locklear v. Moyer

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 14, 2018

ADAM LOCKLEAR, Plaintiff
v.
STEPHEN T. MOYER, Secretary of Public Safety, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Paul W. Grimm, United States District Judge

         Adam Locklear filed a civil rights Complaint on December 27, 207.. ECF NO.1. Based on the Complaint's allegations that Locklear was a target of gang violence, Att., ECF No. 1-1, the Court issued a show cause order, ECF No.3. Locklear subsequently filed letters on April 26, 2018, June 4, 2018, and June 20, 2018 that the Court treated as requests for preliminary injunctions. ECF Nos. 11, 18, 21. The Court ordered Defendants to respond to each of these requests, ECF Nos. 13, 19, 27, and the Defendants have complied, ECF Nos. 16, 20, 27. Locklear submitted another letter on July 9, 2018, restating his allegations that his life is in danger. ECF No. 25. To date, the Court has denied injunctive relief as to the first and second show cause orders. See ECF No. 10, 22.

         Now, having reviewed Locklear's allegations, I conclude that he has failed to demonstrate that he is in imminent danger and thus will deny the third and fourth requests for preliminary injunctions. Further, Locklear's filings are becoming increasingly speculative, placing an unnecessary burden on the Court's resources to review meritle's requests tor injunctive relief. Locklear is cautioned that the Court may impose limitations on future filings should this behavior persist.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A 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. De!. Council Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 22 (2008). To obtain a preliminary injunction, the plaintiff must "establish that [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." Id. at 20; see Dewhurst v. Century Aluminum Co., 649 F.3d 287, 290 (4th Cir. 2011). "A preliminary injunction cannot be issued unless all four of these elements are met, and '[p]laintiff bears the burden of establishing that each of these factors supports granting the injunction.'" Williams v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, No. RDB-16-00312, 2016 WL 509426, at *3 (D. Md. Feb. 4, 2016) (slip op.) (quoting Direx Israel, Ltd. v. Breakthrough Med. Corp., 952 F.2d 802, 812 (4th Cir. 1991) (citation and quotation marks omitted)). "[T]he burden placed upon Plaintiffs to state a claim for a preliminary injunction is high." EndoSurg Med., Inc. v. EndoMaster Med, Inc., 71 F.Supp.3d 525, 538 (D. Md. 2014); see Fowler v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc., No. GJH-15-1084, 2015 WL 2342377, at *2 (D. Md. May 13, 2015) (same). As particularly relevant to this case, the requirement that one establish a likelihood of suffering irreparable harm is not satisfied by suggesting a mere possibility of such harm. Winter, 555 U.S. at 22 ("Issuing a preliminary injunction based only on a possibility of irreparable harm is inconsistent with our characterization of injunctive relief as an extraordinary remedy that may only be awarded upon a clear showing that the plaintiff is entitled to such relief."); De Simone v. VSL Pharm., Inc., 133 F.Supp.3d 776, 799 (D. Md. 2015) ("The irreparable harm to be suffered must be neither remote nor speculative, but actual and imminent." (internal quotation marks omitted)).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Specific Allegations

         Across all four filings, Locklear has made several particularized allegations of threats to his safety, each of which is separately discussed below. The Court concludes that Locklear has not established the, four Winter factors-in particular, the likelihood of irreparable harm-as to any of these claims.

         a. Gang "hit"

         Locklear alleged repeatedly that a gang issued a "contract HIT" against him because he was formerly housed with a homosexual inmate and for other reasons. Compl. Art. 1; see also Apr. 26, 2018 Req. for Prelim. Inj. 1; July 9, 2018 Ltr. I already have denied injunctive relief as to this claim, Apr. 12, 2018 Order; June 25, 2018 Order, and I mention it here only for the purpose of fully cataloguing Locklear's allegations. Of all the allegations, this allegation perhaps came the closest to warranting injunctive relief, as it identified a specific, serious threat Locklear's safety and provided some detail to raise the threat above the speculative level.

         Nonetheless, Defendants' sworn statements that Locklear would not be housed with or have contact with gang members established that this threat of harm was not likely to occur, even if it remained remotely possible. Indeed, as detailed below, Defendants have assigned Locklear a new cellmate on multiple occasions based on his complaints. Thus, Locklear was not entitled to preliminary injunctive relief as to this claim because he could not satisfy the second Winter factor.

         b. Isaac Smith

         Plaintiff alleged in his second request for a preliminary injunction that his life was in danger while Isaac Smith was his cellmate because Smith was "beefing with [B]loods." Apr. 26, 2018 Req. for Prelim. Inj. 1. As noted in the Order denying Plaintiffs second request for injunctive relief, Plaintiff was subsequently assigned a different cellmate. June 25, 2018 Order 3. Thus, this request was moot by the time the Court addressed it.

         c. ...


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