United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
VICTOR A. TAVARES, Plaintiff,
LIEUTENANT MACOMBER, C.O. SPADONI, C.O. ANTONELLI, C.O. SANTA-GATA, LIEUTENANT DIVINE, DEPUTY WARDEN MOORE, and WARDEN ACETO, Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Patricia A. Sullivan, United States Magistrate Judge.
pending before the Court is the motion of pro se
prisoner Plaintiff Victor A. Tavares for preliminary
injunction. ECF No. 33.
on the unadorned averments in his verified Second Amended
Complaint(“SAC”) (ECF No. 24), Plaintiff
asks the Court to order that Defendants, various officials of
the Rhode Island Department of Corrections
(“RIDOC”), must refrain from or engage in certain
conduct as follows: (1) stop using “riot spray”
as a punishment; (2) provide “proper hygiene products,
” “proper footwear” and “proper
nutrition and calories”; (3) turn off in-cell lights at
night; (5) limit time in solitary to no more than thirty days
per infraction; (5) restore Plaintiff's lost good-time
credit; and (6) order two named Defendants to replace his
three-piece suit and shirt. As a factual foundation for these
orders, Plaintiff avers only that correctional officers used
riot spray instead of pepper spray in connection with an
incident when he was fighting with another inmate; that,
while in disciplinary confinement, his meals were
“shorted” leaving him with insufficient calories;
that he was denied “proper hygiene” and
“adequate footwear”; and that the lights were
kept on all night. The only details Plaintiff provides
pertain to the appearance of the now-destroyed court clothes
and the sequence of events leading to the destruction of the
clothes. Critical to the pending motion, the SAC contains
nothing to explain why these alleged deprivations rise to the
level of constitutional violations and nothing at all to
articulate why they are causing irreparable harm sufficient
to support interim injunctive relief.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
considering a request for interim injunctive relief, the
court must be guided by the traditional equity doctrine that
preliminary injunctive relief is an extraordinary and drastic
remedy that is never awarded as of right. Harris v.
Wall, 217 F.Supp.3d 541, 552-53 (D.R.I. 2016). To
prevail, the moving party must demonstrate: (1) a substantial
likelihood of success on the merits; (2) a significant risk
of irreparable harm if the injunction is withheld; (3) a
favorable balance of hardships; and (4) a fit (or lack of
friction) between the injunction and the public interest.
Nieves-Marquez v. Puerto Rico, 353 F.3d 108, 120
(1st Cir. 2003) (preliminary injunction). A plaintiff seeking
an interim injunction bears the burden of demonstrating that
each of the four factors weigh in his favor. Letourneau
v. Aul, C. A. No. 14-421L, 2015 WL 5167854, at *2
(D.R.I. Sept. 3, 2015).
four factors are not weighted equally; “likelihood of
success is the main bearing wall of this framework” and
of primary importance. W Holding Co. v. AIG Ins.
Co.-P.R., 748 F.3d 377, 383 (1st Cir. 2014) (alteration
and internal quotation marks omitted); Flores v.
Wall, No. CA 11-69 M, 2012 WL 4471103, at *3 (D.R.I.
Sept. 5, 2012). “[I]f the moving party cannot
demonstrate that he is likely to succeed in his quest, the
remaining factors become matters of idle curiosity.”
Esso Standard Oil Co. (P.R.) v. Monroig-Zayas, 445
F.3d 13, 18 (1st Cir. 2006). Irreparable harm is measured on
“a sliding scale, working in conjunction with a moving
party's likelihood of success on the merits, such that
the strength of the showing necessary on irreparable harm
depends in part on the degree of likelihood of success
shown.” Braintree Labs., Inc. v. Citigroup Glob.
Markets Inc., 622 F.3d 36, 42-43 (1st Cir. 2010)
(alteration, citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
injunctive relief is typically used to “preserve the
status quo, freezing an existing situation so as to permit
the trial court, upon full adjudication of the case's
merits, more effectively to remedy discerned wrongs.”
Letourneau, 2015 WL 5167854, at *2. By contrast, an
injunction that alters the status quo, is atypical and
“should be granted only in those circumstances when the
exigencies of the situation demand such relief.”
Braintree Labs., 622 F.3d at 41; Textron Fin.
Corp. v. Freeman, C. A. No. 09-087S, 2010 WL 5778756, at
*2 (D.R.I. Oct. 28, 2010). That is, an interim injunction
that alters rather than preserves the status quo should not
issue unless the facts and the law clearly favor the moving
party. Robinson v. Wall, No. C.A. 09-277-S, 2013 WL
4039027, at *2 (D.R.I. Aug. 7, 2013); see Flores,
2012 WL 4471103, at *7 (when injunction sought is mandatory,
courts should exercise more caution).
status as a prisoner triggers an additional restriction on
the availability of interim injunctive relief that is set
forth in the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”). 18 U.S.C. § 3626. PLRA provides
that the court shall not enter a preliminary injunction
unless it finds that the injunctive relief is “narrowly
drawn, extend[s] no further than necessary to correct the
harm the court finds requires preliminary relief, and [is]
the least intrusive means necessary to correct that
harm.” 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(2). Further, the court
considering an interim injunction “shall give
substantial weight to any adverse impact on public safety or
the operation of a criminal justice system caused by the
preliminary relief.” Id. In addition, the
court must respect principles of state and federal comity.
Id. In interpreting the text of § 3626, courts
must be guided by Congress's “ambient intent”
to curb the involvement of the federal judiciary in the
day-to-day management of prisons. Morales Feliciano v.
Rullan, 378 F.3d 42, 50 (1st Cir. 2004). Also, under the
PLRA, preliminary injunctive relief automatically expires
after ninety days unless the court makes specific findings
supporting an extension. See 18 U.S.C. §
3626(a)(1)-(2); Harris, 217 F.Supp.3d at 553-54.
against this hefty standard, particularly in light of his
status as a prisoner subject to PLRA, Plaintiff's motion
is hopelessly deficient. Defendants argue that Plaintiff has
failed to sustain his burden either as to likelihood of
success or as to irreparable harm with respect to each of the
elements of interim relief that he seeks. They are right.
Other than his lost clothes, there is no detail beyond what
is summarized above. And the prayer for an interim injunction
regarding the lost clothes should be denied because it seeks
a mandatory injunction that alters rather than preserves the
status quo, with no irreparable harm, never mind exigent
circumstances, to support such an extraordinary remedy.
Similarly, the request for an interim order restoring
good-time credit not only profoundly alters the status quo
but also runs contrary to well-settled law that the loss of
Rhode Island good-time credit does not amount to a
constitutional deprivation. Goddard v. Oden, No. CA
15-055 ML, 2015 WL 1424363, at *3 (D.R.I. Mar. 27, 2015)
(“The cases interpreting Rhode Island's good time
credit statute make clear that Plaintiff's complaint of
loss of good time credit fails to state a claim, in that this
consequence cannot amount to the loss of a liberty interest
as a matter of law.”).
on the foregoing analysis, I recommend that Plaintiff's
motion for preliminary injunction (ECF No. 33) be denied. Any
objection to this report and recommendation must be specific
and must be served and filed with the Clerk of the Court
within fourteen (14) days of its receipt. See
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2); DRI LR Cv 72(d). Failure to file
specific objections in a timely manner constitutes waiver of
the right to review by the district judge and the right to
appeal the Court's decision. See United ...