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Crayton v. Rochester Medical Corp.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


July 8, 2010

TIMOTHY CRAYTON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROCHESTER MEDICAL CORP., DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR STAY (Doc. 181)

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Timothy Crayton is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil action. Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed on June 21, 2010. (Doc. 181). On July 2, 2010, Defendant filed an opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction with accompanying declarations. (Docs. 185- 187). Upon a review of all of the pleadings in this matter, Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction is DENIED.

II. Relevant Background

Plaintiff is a wheelchair paralytic who is an inmate at Kern Valley State Prison ("KVSP or prison"). The matter arises from Plaintiff's allegations that he was injured when he used an Ultraflex Silicone Self-Adhering Male External Catheter ("catheter") manufactured by Defendant, Rochester Medical Corporation. In an Amended Complaint filed on September 10, 2008, Plaintiff alleges causes of action for strict products liability, negligent products liability, fraudulent misrepresentations, and breach of implied warranty of fitness. (Doc. 34).

On May 5, 2010, Magistrate Judge Gary Austin issued an order modifying a subpoena issued by Defendant on March 12, 2010. (Doc. 164). The modified subpoena was directed to Warden Harrington at the KVSP and requested that prison officials produce the catheter and the packaging at issue in this case. The catheter was believed to be in Plaintiff's personal belongings which included boxes that were stored at the facility. Plaintiff moved to quash the subpoena on the basis that, inter alia, it was an invasion of his privacy, and a violation of the attorney client privilege since Plaintiff's possessions included work product from various lawsuits filed by Plaintiff against prison officials. The Court modified the subpoena to include only the catheter at issue and ordered that no documents, books, or information be read by prison officials during the search.*fn1

Plaintiff filed the instant Motion for Preliminary Injunction on the basis that on June 2, 2010, prison officials allegedly conspired with defense counsel, Jon Kardassakis, entered his cell with an expired subpoena issued by Defendant, and removed Plaintiff's case records, evidence and work product in this case. As a result, Plaintiff contends he is unable to timely file his opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff requests the Court issue an order directing defense counsel and their "agent," William Adam, Litigation Coordinator at the prison, to immediately return all of the confiscated materials and stay the proceedings until Plaintiff's personal property has been returned. (Doc. 181 at pg. 10). In the alternative, Plaintiff requests that the Court issue an order directing Defendant to show cause why the injunctive relief requested should not be granted. Plaintiff also requests that the Court allow him to amend his complaint to include a cause of action for conversion.

In the Opposition, Defendant's counsel indicates that the only communication with prison officials he had was to serve the subpoena and confirm with the litigation coordinator that it was received. Defendant contends that the only documents produced by prison officials in response to the modified subpoena were photographs of catheters, tubes, and packaging recovered in the search of Plaintiff's cell. Defendant also attached the declaration of Russ Linquist, the Correctional Officer who conducted the search, indicating that Plaintiff watched the search from the day room. (Doc. 187 at pg. 3). Officer Linquist indicates that the only property taken from Plaintiff's cell was catheters, tubes, and packaging, which were photographed, and returned to Plaintiff later that day. Id. Officer Linquist indicates that no other property was taken, nor were any legal papers, or other documents disturbed during the search. Id.

III. Discussion

"A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy never awarded as of right." Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 129 S.Ct. 365, 376 (2008) (citation omitted). "A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest." Id. at 374 (citations omitted). An injunction may only be awarded upon a clear showing that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. Id. at 376 (citation omitted) (emphasis added).

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. In considering a request for preliminary injunctive relief, the Court is bound by the requirement that as a preliminary matter, it have before it an actual case or controversy. City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 102, 103 S.Ct. 1660, 1665 (1983); Valley Forge Christian Coll. v. Ams. United for Separation of Church and State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 471, 102 S.Ct. 752, 757-58 (1982). If the Court does not have an actual case or controversy before it, it has no power to hear the matter in question. Id.

Plaintiff is contesting the lawfulness of a search and confiscation of materials from his cell by prison officials. Plaintiff argues that this search and seizure was illegal and is a violation of his Constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. However, here, the case or controversy requirement cannot be met in light of the fact that the issue Plaintiff seeks to remedy in his motion bears no relation, jurisdictionally, to the strict products liability, negligent products liability, fraudulent misrepresentations, and breach of implied warranty of fitness causes of action alleged in his complaint. Lyons, 461 U.S. at 102; also Summers v. Earth Island Inst., 129 S.Ct. 1142, 1148-49 (2009); Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 102-04, 118 S.Ct. 1003 (1998). Plaintiff's allegations of irreparable injury, cannot and do not overcome what is a jurisdictional bar. Steel Co., 523 U.S. at 103-04 ("[The] triad of injury in fact, causation, and redressability constitutes the core of Article III's case-or-controversy requirement, and the party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing its existence.")

Because the case-or-controversy requirement cannot be met, the pendency of this action provides no basis upon which to award Plaintiff injunctive relief. Id. The only relief available to Plaintiff in this action, should he prevail, is money damages for the injuries he suffered as a result the alleged product defect. Although Plaintiff has alleged that counsel for Defendant conspired with prison officials to seize this property, the actual seizure relates to the conditions of his confinement which are not at issue in the instant case. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunctive Relief is HEREBY DENIED, with prejudice, for lack of jurisdiction.

Similarly, Plaintiff's request to stay these proceedings pending the return of his property is also DENIED. The Court notes that it has given Plaintiff several extensions of time in this action including a previous thirty day extension of time to file his opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment . (Docs. 64, 91, 176). Moreover, Plaintiff has been advised that this Court has no authority to order prison officials to return his property because prison officials are not a party to this action. It also appears that there is a discrepancy between Plaintiff's and prison official's accounts of the events that occurred on the day of the search. Given all of these factors, and the fact that this case nearly three years old, the Motion for Stay is DENIED. The Court will, however, allow Plaintiff a final extension of time to respond to Defendant's motion given the timing of the filing of the Motion for Preliminary Injunction. Plaintiff shall file any opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment no later than July 30, 2010.

Finally, Plaintiff will not be permitted to amend the complaint in this matter. Courts should freely give leave to amend when justice so requires. Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 15(a). In this case, however, Plaintiff asks for leave to amend the complaint to include factual allegations and defendants that are separate from the allegations contained in the initial complaint. Therefore, amendment of the complaint is not proper and Plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Complaint is DENIED.

IV. Conclusion

Based on the above, Plaintiff's Motion for Injunctive Relief and his Request for a Stay are DENIED. Similarly, Plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Complaint is also DENIED. Plaintiff shall file any opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment no later than July 30, 2010.

Additionally, Plaintiff is HEREBY PLACED ON NOTICE that any further motions for injunctive relief that are baseless and filed in contravention of the applicable legal standards Plaintiff has been provided with will result in the imposition of sanctions deemed appropriate by this Court. The Court has clearly explained to Plaintiff the jurisdictional bar to obtaining the relief he seeks regarding his current conditions of confinement and access to his property. Plaintiff's continued refusal to acknowledge the legal bases for the Court's rulings constitutes an abuse of process, and will not be overlooked. Snyder v. Internal Revenue Service, 596 F.Supp. 240, 252 (N.D. In. 1984) ("[T]he doors of this courthouse are open to good faith litigation, but abuse of the judicial process . . . will not be tolerated.")

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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