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Cooper v. Bower

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah

August 3, 2017

MICHAEL COOPER PLAINTIFF
v.
SOJNIA BOWER et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Thomas B. Russell, Senior Judge

         This matter is before the Court upon pro se Plaintiff Michael Cooper's second motion for a preliminary injunction (DN 108) and Defendants' motion to strike Plaintiff's “affidavit” and its attachments from the record (DN 133). The Court will address these motions in reverse order. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion to strike will be granted, and Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction will be denied.

         I. DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO STRIKE

         In this motion, Defendants ask the Court to strike Plaintiff's “affidavit” (DN 127) and its attachments (DN 127-1) from the record because they have no relevance to the claims before the Court, or in the alternative, to construe the filing as a motion for leave to file a supplemental complaint and deny it. In the “affidavit” which Defendants move to strike, Plaintiff states that officials at Kentucky State Penitentiary (KSP) continue to retaliate against him for filing this lawsuit. He then attaches 30 pages of grievances and other documents he has filed to support his allegation of continuing retaliation.

         Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs amendments and supplementation of pleadings. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15. Rule 15(a) authorizes a party to amend his pleading once as a matter of course within 21 days after serving it, or if the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is required, 21 days after service of the responsive pleading, or 21 days after service of a dispositive motion under Rule 12, whichever is earlier. Fed. R. Civ. P.15(a)(1)(A) and (B). “In all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent, or the court's leave, ” which courts are to freely give “when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Consistent with this policy, the Sixth Circuit had held that a district court must consider the following factors when determining whether to grant or deny a motion to amend:

Undue delay in filing, lack of notice to the opposing party, bad faith by the moving party, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by previous amendments, undue prejudice to the opposing party, and futility of amendment are all factors which may affect the decision.

Richardson v. Rose Transp., Inc., 617 F. App'x 480, 486 (6th Cir. 2015) (quoting Wade v. Knoxville Utils. Bd., 259 F.3d 452, 458-59 (6th Cir. 2001)); see also James Madison Project v. Dep't of Justice, No. 15-1307 (RMC), 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129453, at *14 (D.D.C. Sept. 22, 2016) (“Where a defendant has filed a dispositive motion . . . and plaintiff has opposed it, denial of permission to amend is proper.”) (citation omitted).

         Rule 15(d), in turn, governs the submission of supplemental pleadings. This Rule provides that upon the motion of a party, “the court may, on just terms, permit a party to serve a supplemental pleading setting out any transaction, occurrence, or event that happened after the date of the pleading to be supplemented.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(d). The Supreme Court has ruled that “Rule 15(d) . . . plainly permits supplemental amendments to cover events happening after suit, and it follows, of course, that persons participating in these new events may be added if necessary.” Griffin v. Cty. Sch. Bd. of Prince Edward Cty., 377 U.S. 218, 227 (1964) (footnote omitted). The standard for granting leave to supplement under Rule 15(d) is the same as the standard governing leave to amend under Rule 15(a)(2). Spies v. Voinovich, 48 F. App'x 520, 527 (6th Cir. 2002). Ultimately, however, “[t]he decision of whether to permit a supplemental pleading is within this Court's discretion.” Pew v. Harris, No. 3:12-CV-1984, 2016 U.S. Dist.LEXIS 59909, at *5 (M.D. Pa. May 4, 2016)(report and recommendation), adopted by 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113157 (M.D. Pa. Aug. 24, 2016) (citing Owens-Illinois, Inc. v. Lake Shore Land Co., 610 F.2d 1185, 1188-89 (3d Cir. 1979); Burns v. Exxon Corp., 158 F.3d 336, 344 (5th Cir. 1998) (holding that district court did not abuse its discretion in denying leave to file supplemental complaint)). In every instance, the exercise of this discretion must be guided by the animating principle behind Rule 15(d), which is “to make pleadings a means to achieve an orderly and fair administration of justice.” Griffin v. Cty. Sch. Bd. of Prince Edward Cty., 377 U.S. at 227. For this reason, a court may deny a motion to supplement where it contains “a new legal theory, not just events that occurred after the complaint.” Koukios v. Ganson, No. 99-4060, 2000 U.S. App. LEXIS 21040, at *5 (6th Cir. Aug. 11, 2000). In addition, leave to supplement may be denied if it would be fairer and more orderly to let the plaintiff raise the new claim(s) in another lawsuit. See Schwarz v. City of Treasure Island, 544 F.3d 1201, 1229 (11th Cir. 2008).

         Here, the Court finds that allowing Plaintiff add the instant allegations would yield undue delay in the resolution of this already convoluted action and would be unfair and prejudicial to Defendants. Plaintiff, who is incarcerated at KSP, initiated this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against on December 18, 2015, against one KSP official for violating his bodily privacy. Three months later, Plaintiff filed an amended and/or supplemental complaint making claims of retaliation against 11 additional KSP officials. Plaintiff has since filed several motions for leave to file an amended and/or supplemental complaints containing claims of retaliation. The Court considered each of these motions on their merits and, to date, has allowed Plaintiff's claims to proceed against 19 KSP officials. In this time, the Court has also addressed Plaintiff's motions for a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunctions and reviewed the numerous other miscellaneous documents Plaintiff continues to file on a regular basis. At present, a second motion by Plaintiff for a preliminary injunction (the one now before the Court) and Defendants' motion for summary judgment are both pending. Given these circumstances, the Court's consideration of undue delay and prejudice deserves great weight and these factors weigh heavily in denying Plaintiff's motion to file a supplemental complaint. This is especially true where, as here, the parties have essentially completed discovery on the original claims and spent considerable time and effort in briefing summary judgment on the issues presented in the case. Therefore, since the Court must always “apply Rule 15(d) in a manner aimed at securing the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action, ” CMR D.N. Corp. v. City of Philadelphia, No. 07-1045, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25387, at *12 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 11, 2011), the Court concludes that Plaintiff's motion to strike should be granted because allowing Plaintiff to add new claims against new Defendants at this time would be unjust, cause undue delay, and needlessly increase the costs of litigation.

         Plaintiff, of course, may raise his new claims in a separate § 1983 action if he so wishes.

         II. MOTION FOR A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

         In his motion for a preliminary injunction, which Plaintiff actually titles “Motion for Transfer of Plaintiff and Witnesses and Release from Seg, ” Plaintiff states that he has been in segregation for five years and that this long-term segregation is causing him to suffer an “adverse psychological impact.” He states that he believes he is in segregation despite Defendants having “been told by Frankfort no more long term segregation.” He also states that he continues to be retaliated against at KSP in other ways and that “his life is in danger.” As relief, Plaintiff requests immediate release from segregation and transfer of himself and two other inmates to another facility. Plaintiff has filed two affidavits seemingly in support of this motion (DNs 102 & 110).

         A. LEGAL STANDARD

         The Court must balance four factors in deciding whether to issue a preliminary injunction: “(1) whether the movant has a strong likelihood of success on the merits; (2) whether the movant would suffer irreparable injury without the injunction; (3) whether issuance of the injunction would cause substantial harm to others; and (4) whether the public interest would be served by issuance of the injunction.” City of Pontiac Retired Emp. Ass'n v. Schimmel, 751 F.3d 427, 430 (6th Cir. 2014) (en banc) (internal quotation marks omitted). The four preliminary injunction factors are “‘factors to be balanced, not prerequisites that must be met.'” Michael v. Futhey, No. 08-3932, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 28217, at *93-94 (6th Cir. Dec. 22, 2009) (quoting Six Clinics Holding Corp., II v. Cafcomp Sys., 119 F.3d 393, 400 (6th Cir. 1997)). Nonetheless, it remains that the hallmark of injunctive relief is a likelihood of irreparable harm. Patio Enclosures, Inc. v. Herbst, 39 F. App'x 964, 967 (6th Cir. 2002) (“[T]he demonstration of some irreparable injury is a sine qua non for issuance of an injunction.”); see alsoWinter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, 555 U.S. 7, 22-23 (2008) (rejecting the notion that a mere “possibility” of irreparable injury was sufficient for a preliminary injunction and holding that “plaintiffs seeking preliminary relief [are required] to demonstrate that irreparable injury is likely in the absence of an injunction”) (emphasis in original). Additionally, “a finding that there is simply no likelihood of success on the merits is usually fatal.” Gonzales v. Nat'l Bd. of Med. Exam'rs, 225 F.3d 620, 625 (6th Cir. 2000). Plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating his entitlement to a preliminary injunction, and his burden is a heavy one. Injunctive relief is “an extraordinary remedy which should be granted ...


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