United States District Court, D. Delaware
Introduction. Plaintiff Jose Santiago, was
an inmate at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in
Wilmington, Delaware, when filed this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. (D.I. 3). He is now housed at the James
T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware. (D.I. 22).
Plaintiff appears pro se and has been granted leave
to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I. 6). On November
7, 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion for injunctive relief
alleging retaliation by Defendant Lt. Gray for commencing
this action. (D.I. 16, 17). The Court denied the motion.
(D.I. 24). On December 31, 2018, Plaintiff filed a second
motion for injunctive relief. (D.I. 28). Defendants oppose.
(D.I. 31). Plaintiff has also filed two motions to amend the
complaint and a request for counsel. (D.I. 27, 35, 37).
Defendants move to strike the amended complaint. (D.I. 36)
Motion for Injunctive Relief. A preliminary
injunction is "an extraordinary remedy that should be
granted only if (1) the plaintiff is likely to succeed on the
merits; (2) denial will result in irreparable harm to the
plaintiff; (3) granting the injunction will not result in
irreparable harm to the defendant; and (4) granting the
injunction is in the public interest." NutraSweet
Co. v. Vit-Mar Enterprises, Inc., 176 F.3d 151, 153 (3d
Cir. 1999). The elements also apply to temporary restraining
orders. See NutraSweet Co. v. Vit-Mar Enterprises.,
Inc., 112 F.3d 689, 693 (3d Cir. 1997). "[F]ailure
to establish any element in [a plaintiffs] favor renders a
preliminary injunction inappropriate." NutraSweet
II, 176 F.3d at 153. Furthermore, because of the
intractable problems of prison administration, a request for
injunctive relief in the prison context must be viewed with
considerable caution. Rush v. Correctional Med.
Services, Inc., 287 Fed.Appx. 142, 144 (3d Cir. 2008).
Background. Plaintiff alleges he has been
subjected to retaliation since submitting a grievance on May
1, 2018. (D.I. 28 at ¶ 6). He states that Defendant Lt.
Gray threatened him with solitary confinement and that he
would make Plaintiffs time in prison hell. (Id.).
Plaintiff alleges that Gray threatened him with physical
action. (Id. at ¶ 9). Plaintiff alleges that he
requested a transfer to the Sussex Correctional Institute on
April 18, 2018 due to a "mold incident and health
concerns." (Id. at ¶ 10). Plaintiff states
that the dorm was "made livable per defendants in May or
June of 2018" and that he remained at the HRYCI during
this time, all the while being asked to drop his claim.
According to Plaintiff, he was transferred to the VCC on
November 16, 2018 for refusing to stop fighting for his
constitutional rights. (Id. at ¶ 12). The
transfer caused Plaintiff to lose his prison job, income, and
good time. (Id.) Plaintiff also alleges that he
purchased many items from the commissary a week prior to his
transfer and those items were disposed of without giving
Plaintiff an opportunity to mail the items home.
(Id. at ¶ 13). In addition, Plaintiff claims
that his other personal items were taken by the VCC property
room "per retaliation by DOC in concert/participation
with Lt. Gray" and disposed of or donated to inmates who
work in the property room. (Id. at¶14).
Plaintiff states that on December 4, 2018, he received a
classification override and his points were dropped making
him eligible for an out-of-state transfer. (Id.
at¶15). Plaintiff alleges that "[i]t was made clear
if [he] continued [his] fight [he] would be transferred out
of state." (Id.). Plaintiff asks the Court to
"intercede." (Id. at¶17).
Exhibits submitted by Plaintiff indicate that on April 19,
2018, Gray and Defendant Anthony McLellan (misnamed in the
Complaint as McMillian) met with Plaintiff regarding a
grievance he had submitted complaining of black mold in the
shower area and along the ventilation systems. (D.I. 28 at
17). McLellan informed Plaintiff that maintenance would look
into the situation and, if there was a mold problem, it would
be rectified as soon as possible. (Id.) The exhibits
include records of the transfer of Plaintiffs property. The
forms were signed by several correctional officers, but not
by Defendants. (Id. at 36). Nor do documents
indicate that Defendants had any involvement in the removal
of Plaintiffs personal items at the VCC. (Id. at
their opposition to Plaintiffs motion, Defendants provide the
affidavit of McLellan who states that neither he, nor Gray,
threatened Plaintiff with solitary confinement. (D.I. 32 at
Ex. A). McLellan states that despite the fact that Plaintiffs
grievance was invalid for failure to follow DOC procedures,
he addressed Plaintiffs concerns, and had maintenance
investigate the matter. (Id.). As a result, the
dorms were closed, inmates were moved, and the issues were
fixed. (Id.). Defendants argue that Plaintiff has
not met his burden to prove a threat of immediate irreparable
"The relevant inquiry is whether the movant is in danger
of suffering irreparable harm at the time the preliminary
injunction is to be issued." SI Handling Sys., Inc.
v. Heisley, 753 F.2d 1244, 1264 (3d Cir. 1985). Because
Plaintiff is no longer housed at the same correctional
facility as Gray or McClennan, it is implausible he will
suffer irreparable harm because of speculative retaliation by
either Defendant when Plaintiff is housed at the VCC.
addition, proof of a retaliation claim requires Plaintiff
demonstrate that: (1) he engaged in protected activity; (2)
he was subjected to adverse actions by a state actor; and (3)
the protected activity was a substantial motivating factor in
the state actor's decision to take adverse action.
Carter v. McGrady, 292 F.3d 152, 158 (3d Cir. 2002)
(citing Mt. Healthy Bd. of Educ. v. Doyle, 429 U.S.
274, 287 (1977)); see also Allah v. Seiverling, 229
F.3d 220 (3d Cir. 2000) (a factfinder could conclude that
retaliatory placement in administrative confinement would
"deter a person of ordinary firmness from exercising his
First Amendment rights" (citations omitted)).
Considering the evidence submitted, the Court concludes that
Plaintiff has not met the requirements for injunctive relief.
There is no evidence that Defendants were involved in
Plaintiffs transfer, and there is no evidence that Defendants
had any involvement with Plaintiffs personal property either
prior to his transfer from the HYRCI or upon his transfer to
the VCC. Finally, the parties' position on whether
Plaintiff was threatened with solitary are polar opposite
and, regardless, there is no evidence that Plaintiff was ever
sent to solitary confinement. Plaintiff has failed to show
the likelihood of success on the merits or irreparable harm.
Therefore, the Court will deny the motion.
Amendment. Plaintiff filed a motion for
permission to amend and an amended complaint. (D.I. 27, 35).
Both are construed as motions to amend. Defendants move to
strike the proposed amended complaint. (D.I. 36).
Pursuant to D. Del. LR 15.1(b) when seeking to amend, the
proposed amended pleading shall indicate in what respect it
differs from the pleading which it amends, by bracketing or
striking through materials to be deleted and underlining
materials to be added. Plaintiffs proposed amended complaint
does not indicate in what respect it differs from the
pleading which it amends, by bracketing or striking through
materials to be deleted and underlining materials to be
added. In addition, the proposed amendment is confusing and
seems to combine issues in this case with another case
Plaintiff is involved in, Nash v. Akinbayo, Civ. No.
18-677-MN. Plaintiff may not litigate the same issues in two
Given Plaintiffs failure to comply with this Court's
Local Rules and the confusing proposed amendment, Plaintiffs
motions for leave to amend (D.I. 27, 35) will be denied
without prejudice to renew. Defendants' motion to strike
will be dismissed as moot. (D.I. 36). The Court will consider
a renewed motion to amend upon Plaintiffs compliance with the
local rules of this Court.
Request for Counsel. Plaintiff requests
counsel on the grounds that he is incarcerated and it is
impossible for him to obtain sensitive documents and videos
from the Delaware Department of Correction and important and
necessary witness ...