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Harpool v. Beyer

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


August 18, 2010

GARY L. HARPOOL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
M. BEYER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gregory G. Hollows United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed a "motion of inquiry and request for TRO and preliminary injunction," by application of the mailbox rule,*fn1 on August 10, 2010,*fn2 which was prior to the filing of this court's order, on August 11, 2010, granting plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis but dismissing the complaint with leave to amend.

TRO

The purpose in issuing a temporary restraining order is to preserve the status quo pending a fuller hearing. The cases contain limited discussion of the standards for issuing a temporary restraining order due to the fact that very few such orders can be appealed prior to the hearing on a preliminary injunction. It is apparent, however, that requests for temporary restraining orders which are not ex parte and without notice are governed by the same general standards that govern the issuance of a preliminary injunction.*fn3 See New Motor Vehicle Bd. v. Orrin W. Fox Co., 434 U.S. 1345, 1347 n.2, 98 S.Ct. 359 (1977) (Rehnquist, J.); Los Angeles Unified Sch. Dist. v. United States Dist. Court, 650 F.2d 1004, 1008 (9th Cir. 1981) (Ferguson, J. dissenting); Century Time Ltd. v. Interchron Ltd., 729 F. Supp. 366, 368 (S.D.N.Y. 1990). In many cases the emphasis of the court is directed to irreparable harm and the balance of hardships because the merits of a controversy are often difficult to ascertain and adjudicate on short notice.

Preliminary Injunction Standard

"The proper legal standard for preliminary injunctive relief requires a party to demonstrate '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.'" Stormans, Inc. v. Selecky, 586 F.3d 1109, 1127 (9th Cir. 2009), quoting Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., ___ U.S. ___, 129 S.Ct. 365, 374 (2008).

A Ninth Circuit panel has found that post-Winter, this circuit's sliding scale approach or "serious questions" test survives "when applied as part of the four-element Winter test." Alliance for Wild Rockies v. Cottrell, No. 09-35756, 10855, 10865 (9th Cir. July 28, 2010) "In other words, 'serious questions going to the merits,' and a hardship balance that tips sharply toward the plaintiff can support issuance of an injunction, assuming the other two elements of the Winter test are also met." Id.

In cases brought by prisoners involving conditions of confinement, any preliminary injunction "must be narrowly drawn, extend no further than necessary to correct the harm the court finds requires preliminary relief, and be the least intrusive means necessary to correct the harm." 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(2).

Discussion

Plaintiff asks for a TRO/preliminary injunction against all the defendants named within his original complaint as well as against the CDCR*fn4 based on additional evidence he submits with his motion. However, these exhibits, which consist of a handwritten letter, dated August 5, 2010, from plaintiff to Associate Warden Cappel, complaining about the actions of certain correctional officers while plaintiff was trying to conduct Men's Advisory Council (MAC) business, and a memo dated February 18, 2010, regarding "MAC Access to Programs," are hardly sufficient to serve as a basis for a preliminary injunction. Nor does plaintiff submit a properly supported affidavit demonstrating that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief. Finally, at this time, as the complaint has been dismissed, albeit without prejudice, there are no colorable underlying allegations on which the court could make any assessment as to the likelihood of success on merits.

The motion will be vacated without prejudice to plaintiff's filing a properly supported affidavit demonstrating that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm without a preliminary injunction. Such a motion should only be filed after plaintiff files a timely amended complaint, the court finds his allegations colorable, and defendants have been served.

Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for a TRO/preliminary injunction, filed on August 13, 2010 (docket # 10), is VACATED without prejudice, as set forth above.


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