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Brock v. Wright

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro Division

October 6, 2017


          Counsel of record Dominique J. Brock, pro se


          Joseph H. McKinley, Jr., Chief Judge.

         This matter is before the Court upon plaintiff Dominique J. Brock's motions to seal the case (DN 54) and for a preliminary injunction. (DN 55.) These matters are ripe for decision. For the following reasons, both motions will be DENIED.

         I. Background

         According to the complaint, Brock was an inmate at Green River Correctional Complex. In May 2014, he was involved in an altercation with an inmate named Timothy Delahanty, who Brock alleges has ties to a white supremacist group. Following the altercation, Brock was placed on “rec alone, ” meaning he could not be placed in a recreation cage with other inmates. However, on June 4, 2014, Brock was placed in a recreation cage with defendant David Hicks, who Brock alleges was another white supremacist in the prison. Hicks and another unknown individual assaulted Brock in the recreation cage. Brock alleges that prison staff conspired with Hicks to have Brock assaulted in retaliation for his prior altercation with Delahanty and a previous lawsuit Brock filed while being housed at the Crittenden County Jail.

         Brock originally brought various constitutional and state-law claims against three guards who were at the scene of the recreation cage fight, Karen Stammers, Samuel Wright, and Stephen Embry; the prison official who handled his appeal, Stephen Wright; and Hicks. Following this Court's pro se screening process (DN 11), a motion for summary judgment by the defendants employed by the prison (DN 33), and the entry of default judgment against Hicks (DN 52), the only claims that remain are § 1983 claims against Samuel Wright for (1) failure to protect and (2) deliberate indifference. The Court vacated the jury trial that was set to allow for additional discovery. (DN 52.) Since then, Brock has filed a motion to seal the case (DN 54), as well as a motion for “preliminary injunctive relief.” (DN 55.) In his motion for a preliminary injunction, he asks that he be transferred from Kentucky State Penitentiary (“KSP”), where he is currently housed, to Roederer Correctional Complex (“RCC”) until the conclusion of this case. In support of this request, he states that he has been assaulted by prison staff at KSP in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights by pursuing the present case.

         II. Motion to Seal

         The Court will first address Brock's motion to seal. “A strong public right of access attaches when a document is filed or utilized in public proceedings.” Karl v. Bizar, 2009 WL 3644115, at *1 (S.D. Ohio Oct. 28, 2009) (citing Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. v. F.T.C., 710 F.2d 1165, 1178-79 (6th Cir. 1983)). This right of access is reflected in this Court's Local Rules governing civil proceedings, which “presume that all documents filed in district court should be available for the public to access and that restricting public access can occur only in limited circumstances” in accordance with a federal statute, federal rule of procedure, local rule, or order of this Court. LR 5.7(a). Brock's motion to seal the case mentions no law that would allow the Court to seal the case, and it offers no justification for restricting public access to the filings. He mentions that this case has been “constantly rumored and fabled about, ” but he offers no elaboration as to what this means or why it justifies sealing the case. As such, the motion to seal is DENIED.

         III. Motion for Preliminary Injunction

         A. Standard of Review

         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.” Six Clinics Holding Corp., II v. Cafcomp Sys., 119 F.3d 393, 400 (6th Cir. 1997)). Nonetheless, 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 also Winter 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).

         Because “[t]he purpose of a preliminary injunction is merely to preserve the relative positions of the parties until a trial on the merits can be held, ” Univ. of Texas v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 395 (1981), “the party moving for a preliminary injunction must necessarily establish a relationship between the injury claimed in the party's motion and conduct asserted in the complaint.” Colvin v. Caruso, 605 F.3d 282, 300 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting Devose v. Herrington, 42 F.3d. 470 (8th Cir. 1994)). This is because “[t]he purpose of interim equitable relief is to protect the movant, during the pendency of the action, from being harmed or further harmed in the manner in which the movant contends [he] was or will be harmed through the illegality alleged in the complaint.” Id. (quoting Omega World Travel, Inc. v. Trans World Airlines, 111 F.3d 14, 16 (4th Cir. 1997)).

         B. Analysis

         Brock's motion for a preliminary injunction asks the Court to order that he be moved from KSP to RCC until the present case is completed, as prison staff at KSP have physically assaulted him in retaliation for his participation in this case. The Court will ...

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