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Winter v. Holloway

United States District Court, D. Delaware

July 30, 2019

HERMIONE KELLY IVY WINTER, a/k/a Najmaa-bint-Sakinah S. bint-Sard-Khadijah f/k/a David A. Allemandi, Plaintiff,
v.
HEIDI HOLLOWAY, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          HONORABLE LEONARD P. STRAK, JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Hermione Kelly Ivy Winter, a/k/a Najmaa-bint-Sakinah S. bint-Sard-Khadijah, f/k/a David A. Allemandi ("Plaintiff), an inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center (“VCC”) in Smyrna, Delaware, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] (D.I. 2) She appears pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I. 7) To date, Defendants Dana Metzger ("Metzger") and Heidi Holloway ("Holloway") (together "Defendants") have been served. Metzger has answered the Complaint; Holloway has not. A scheduling and discovery order has not been entered. Plaintiff has filed a number of motions. (D.I. 81, 82, 89, 99, 116, 125, 126, 127, 137)

         I. GLOBAL MOTIONS

         The Court turns first to Plaintiffs "global motions."(D.I. 81, 82) Rather than file a motion directed to this case, the motion is a global motion that contains case numbers for numerous cases filed by Plaintiff. There are different deadlines in each case and different parties in each case.

         When seeking relief, Plaintiff is directed to file a morion specific to a particular case. The Court does not consider the global motions and, therefore, they will be denied.

         II. MOTION TO CONSOLIDATE CASES

         Plaintiff moves to consolidate this case with Winter v. Christo, Civ. No. 19-300-LPS. (D.I. 99) Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed Civ. No. 19-300-LPS in June 2019. (D.I. 32, 33) Therefore, the motion to consolidate will be denied as moot, III. MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION RELIEF AND TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER

         Plaintiffs criminal sentencing order requires that she successfully complete the Transitions Sex Offender Program. (D.K. 135-1 at 3) Plaintiff seeks as injunctive relief one of the following: (1) Holloway to remove her from Transitions and modify her sentence to complete the program as part of a condition of home confinement or probation; (2) temporarily remove Plaintiff from the Transitions program until settlement of this suit; (3) remove Plaintiff from the Transitions program pending completion of vaginoplasty surgery and transfer to Baylor Women's Correctional Institution ("BWCI"); (4) remove Plaintiff from the Transitions program until the last two years of suspended time of her sentence, should an early release fall through; or (5) order Holloway to stop all disciplinary action or instruct others to complete disciplinary actions and preclude Holloway from forcing Plaintiff to make statements she does not with to make. (D.I. 125 at 4-5) Defendants oppose the motion on the grounds that this is merely another attempt to procure a transfer to BWCI and argue that Plaintiff has not met the requisites for injunctive relief. (D.I. 134, 135)

         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) ("NutraSweet II"). The elements also apply to temporary restraining orders. See NutriSwet Co. v. Vit-Mar Enterprises., Inc., 112 F.3d 689, 693 (3d Cir. 1997) (“NutraSwet I”) (temporary restraining order that continues beyond time permissible under Rule 65 must be treated as preliminary injunction, and must conform to standards applicable to preliminary injunctions). "[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. See Rush v. Correctional Med. Services, Inc., 287 F.Appx. 142, 144 (3d Cir. July 31, 2008) (citing Gaffs. Harper, 60 F.3d 518, 520 (8th Cir. 1995)).

         For die reasons set forth in its prior Order denying Plaintiffs motion for injunctive relief and following a review of Plaintiffs claims, the Court concludes that she has not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits. (See D.I. 104, 105) In addition, Plaintiff has not produced evidence of irreparable harm.

         Plaintiff focuses on write-ups and the potential loss of an honor visit in the event she is subjected to discipline for having three unexcused absences from the Transitions program. However, the record evidence does not indicate that she had lost her honor visit. In addition, it does not demonstrate that she is treated differently from other inmates; the declarations in die record indicate that Plaintiff was not being disciplined or punished as a result of her gender identification and decisions regarding her housing assignment were not made in an effort to punish her. (see D. I. At 41at Exs. J.M) "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). Plaintiff has not made that showing.

         Plaintiff asks this Court to inject itself into administration of a state prison as well as to amend Plaintiffs sentencing order. Where a plaintiff requests an injunction that would require the Court to interfere with the administration of a state prison, "appropriate consideration must be given to principles of federalism in determining the availability and scope of equitable relief." R25go v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 379 (1976). Prison officials require broad discretionary authority as the "operation of a correctional institution is at best an extraordinarily difficult undertaking." Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 566 (1974). Hence, prison administrators are accorded wide-ranging deference in the adoption and execution of policies and practices that are needed to preserve internal order and to maintain institutional security See Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 527 (1979). The federal courts are not overseers of the day-to-day management of prisons, and the Court will not interfere in die Department of Correction's determination where to house Plaintiff or how to administer the Transitions program. Finally, this suit is not a proper vehicle for seeking to modify Plaintiffs sentencing order.

         Granting the injunctive relief Plaintiff seeks, under the circumstances revealed by the record, would contravene the public's interest in the effective and orderly operation of the State's prison system. Set Carrigan v. State of Delaware, 957 F.Supp. 1376, 1385 (D. Del. 1997).

         The Court will deny Plaintiffs motion for injunctive relief. (D.I. 125) Plaintiff is placed on notice that future motions for injunctive relief raising the same or similar issues and seeking the ...


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