United States District Court, D. New Jersey
L. LINARES CHIEF JUDGE.
or about July 10, 2017, pro se Plaintiff, a
convicted state prisoner currently confined in New Jersey
State Prison, filed this action seeking to bring claims
against Defendant Meo and several Jane Roe nurses employed in
the medical department of Northern State Prison pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deliberate indifference to his
medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment and a
claim for First Amendment retaliation. (ECF No. 1).
March 26, 2018, Plaintiff filed a "Motion for
Preliminary Injunction." (ECF No. 35). Therein,
Plaintiff seeks a "temporary restraining order and a
preliminary injunction to ensure that the Court receives
[his] mail." (Id. at 1). "Plaintiff does
not attack the general scheme for handling mail. Rather,
Plaintiff contends that in repeatedly throwing away [his]
legal mail, the mail room employees are denying his
'access to the Courts.'" (Id.).
Accordingly, Plaintiff believes he is entitled to immediate
injunctive relief. (Id. at 2).
Preliminary injunctions are extraordinary remedies that are
not routinely granted. Kos Pharm., Inc. v. Andrx
Corp., 369 F.3d 700, 708 (3d Cir. 2004) (citing Am.
Tel. & Tel. Co. v. Winback & Conserve Program,
Inc., 42 F.3d 1421, 1426-27 (3d Cir. 1994)) (emphasis
granted). The decision to grant a preliminary injunction is
within the sound discretion of the district court. eBay
Inc., etal. v. MercExchange, L.L.C, 547 U.S. 388, 391
(2006) (citing Weinberger v. Romero-Barcelo, 456
U.S. 305, 320 (1982)). In deciding whether injunctive relief
should be granted, the Court must determine (i) that the
movant has a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits,
(ii) that the denial of injunctive relief will result in
irreparable harm to the movant, (iii) that granting
injunctive relief for the movant will not result in even
greater harm to the nonmovant, and (iv) that the public
interest favors granting the preliminary injunction. Kos
Pharm., 369 F.3d at 708 (citing Allegheny Energy,
Inc. v. DQE, Inc., 171 F.3d 153, 158 (3d Cir. 1999)).
movant bears the burden of demonstrating that the injunction
it seeks should issue. Id. To obtain a preliminary
injunction, the moving party must demonstrate both a
likelihood of success and the probability of irreparable harm
if relief is not granted. Morton v. Beyer, 822 F.2d
364, 367 (3d Cir. 1987) (quotations omitted); see also In
re Arthur Teacher's Franchisee Litig., 689 F.2d
1137, 1143 (3d Cir. 1982) ("[W]e cannot sustain a
preliminary injunction ordered by the district court where
either or both of these prerequisites are absent.")
order to bring a denial of access to court claim, such as
Plaintiffs claim of interference to access to Courts, a
plaintiff must "plead, among other things, that
he or she has been actually injured." Aultman v.
Cmty. Educ. Ctrs. Inc, 606 Fed.Appx., 668 (3d Cir.
2015). (emphasis added). Such an injury occurs where a
plaintiff "has lost the opportunity to pursue a
'nonfrivolous' or 'arguable' underlying
claim." Id. (internal quotations omitted). The
right of access to courts under the First and Fourteenth
Amendments requires that "adequate, effective, and
meaningful" access must be provided to inmates who wish
to challenge their criminal charge, conviction, or conditions
of confinement. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 822
(1977). In other words, prison officials must "give
prisoners a reasonably adequate opportunity to present
claimed violations of fundamental constitutional rights to
the Courts." Id. at 825. "The touchstone
... is meaningful access to the courts." Peterkin v.
Jeffes, 855 F.2d 1021, 1037 (3d Cir. 1988) (quoting
Bounds, 430 U.S. at 823) (internal quotations
Bounds, the Supreme Court held that "the
fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts
requires prison authorities to assist inmates in the
preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by
providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate
assistance from persons trained in the law." Bounds,
supra at 828. The right of access to the courts,
however, is not unlimited. "The tools [that
Bounds] requires to be provided are those that the
inmates need in order to attack their sentences, directly or
collaterally, and in order to challenge the conditions of
their confinement. Impairment of any other
litigating capacity is simply one of the incidental (and
perfectly constitutional) consequences of conviction and
incarceration." Cooper v. Sharp, 2011 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 29823, at *37 (D.N.J. Mar. 23, 2011) (quoting
Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 355 (1996)) (emphasis
order to bring a denial of access claim, however, the
prisoner must show that he suffered a past or imminent
"actual injury." Id. at * 12;
Lewis, 518 U.S. at 348-51, 354-55. "Such an
injury occurs where a plaintiff has lost the opportunity to
pursue a 'nonfrivolous' or 'arguable'
underlying claim." Aultman, 606 Fed.Appx. at
668. The Court has also suggested that such an injury occurs
where "a complaint [Plaintiff] prepared was dismissed
for failure to satisfy some technical requirement which,
because of deficiencies in the prison's legal assistance
facilities, he could not have known. Or that he had suffered
arguably actionable harm that he wished to bring before the
courts, but was so stymied by inadequacies of the law library
that he was unable to file even a complaint."
Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351.
Here, the Court must deny Plaintiffs claim for denial of his
right to access to Courts for several reasons. Preliminarily,
Plaintiff has not shown an injury in fact, but rather
speculates that his access to Courts is being hindered by his
belief that he is not receiving his mail. Furthermore,
Plaintiff has made no allegations that he has lost any case,
which is a requirement for such a claim. Moreover, even if
Plaintiff could demonstrate some actual injury in fact,
Plaintiffs Complaint makes no allegations regarding same.
(See generally ECF No. 1). Accordingly, since
Plaintiff has not asserted a claim for denial to access to
Courts nor has he alleged any actual injury, Plaintiff is
incapable of demonstrating a likelihood of success on the
merits, which is fatal to his request for a temporary
restraining order and preliminary injunction.
Court is cognizant that "[p]risoners, by virtue of their
incarceration, do not forfeit their First Amendment right to
the use of the mails." Nixon v. Sec 'y Pa. Dep
't of Con:, 501 Fed.Appx. 176, 178 (3d Cir. 2012)
(quoting Jones v. Brown, 461 F.3d 353, 358 (3d Cir.
2006)). An inmate's right to send and receive mail can,
however, be restricted for legitimate penological purposes.
Id.; see also Thornburgh v. Abbott, 490 U.S. 401,
Here, the Court once again must deny any relief requested by
Plaintiff as it pertains to his alleged non-receipt of mail.
First, as discussed above, Plaintiffs Complaint contains no
allegations with respect to the mail issue. Accordingly,
without allegations to support the claim, the Court cannot
find that Plaintiff would likely succeed on the merits of
this claim. Moreover, aside from Plaintiffs broad and general
statements in his Motion, Plaintiff points to no concrete
evidence to support the assertion that he is not receiving
his mail or that prison ...