United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Russ Walker, United States Magistrate Judge
before the court is Plaintiff's request for a preliminary
injunction. Doc. 5. He seeks to enjoin Defendants from
prohibiting him from filing criminal charges against an
inmate who assaulted him pursuant to a “hit, ”
and requests placement in protective custody because the hit
did not “satisfy the contract” - i.e.,
according to Plaintiff, “‘[only] death of Mr.
Brown'” is  satisfactory.” Doc. 5 at 3-4.
directed, Defendants filed a response to Plaintiff's
request for issuance of a preliminary injunction. Docs. 20,
28. In the response, Michael Strickland, Warden of Ventress
Correctional Facility, states that he had no knowledge that
an assault on Plaintiff would occur. At the time of the
assault-on August 19, 2018-Plaintiff was housed in
Ventress' Health Care Unit and had been so housed since
December 7, 2017. After the assault, prison officials turned
the matter over to the Investigations and Intelligence
Division (“I & I”), which assigned an agent
to the case. Strickland denies being made aware of a hit on
Plaintiff prior to his being assaulted, and says that he
received no copy of a hit letter and knew nothing about such
a letter prior to the assault. Further, Strickland states
that the only letter he has seen referencing a hit was the
letter Plaintiff filed with the court on November 9, 2018
(Doc. 20 at 7), a copy of which he received on November 13,
2018, from the Alabama Department of Corrections' Interim
General Counsel. After reviewing the letter, Strickland noted
that it identified no one specifically who had threatened
Plaintiff's safety. Additionally, Strickland says that if
Plaintiff knows of the true names of the individuals
referenced in the letter, he has not provided them to him.
Strickland indicates that it is difficult to protect
Plaintiff from unnamed individuals, no matter where he is
housed. Strickland says that, since the August 19, 2018
assault, Plaintiff has resided in the medical ward with only
one minor incident. Plaintiff identified a problem with
another inmate housed in the medical ward, but they have
since signed an Inmate Compatibility Statement. After the two
inmates signed the statement, they were both assigned to the
medical ward for medical reasons and have since lived
together amicably. Doc. 28-1.
Lewis, the I&I agent assigned to investigate the threat
against Plaintiff, has been unable to confirm any credible
threat to Plaintiff's safety. Agent Lewis states that the
assault on Plaintiff on August 19, 2018 by inmate Justin
Randall occurred after Randall agreed to “88 (assault)
Plaintiff in order to have a $200.00 drug debt he owed to the
Aryan Brotherhood forgiven.” Plaintiff remains housed
in the medical unit, where Lewis says Plaintiff has indicated
he feels safe being housed. Because Plaintiff said that his
common-law wife had the original note containing the threat
against him, Lewis contacted her, but she refused to provide
him with a copy of the note without going through counsel.
Lewis says that proper investigative protocols have been
implemented regarding the August 2018 assault on Plaintiff
and the investigation is ongoing. Doc. 20.
response to Lewis' affidavit, Plaintiff says he never
told the investigator that Justin Randall assaulted him, and
conclusorily asserts that the investigator's affidavit is
inaccurate, that he interviewed Plaintiff in a manner
designed to manipulate the court, and that he asked Plaintiff
the same question in different ways. Doc. 20. In response to
Strickland's affidavit, Plaintiff states that because the
Aryan Brotherhood is a large organization, it is impossible
to identify the individual who placed the hit on him, which
makes protective custody the best place to house him. Doc.
30. Upon consideration, the court concludes that the motion
for preliminary injunction is due to be denied.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
decision to grant or deny a preliminary injunction “is
within the sound discretion of the district court....”
Palmer v. Braun, 287 F.3d 1325, 1329 (11th Cir.
2002). This court may grant a preliminary injunction only if
Plaintiff demonstrates each of these prerequisites: (1) a
substantial likelihood of success on the merits; (2)
irreparable injury will occur absent issuance of the
injunction; (3) the threatened injury outweighs the potential
damage the requested injunction may cause the non-moving
parties; and (4) the injunction would not be adverse to the
public interest. Id.; McDonald's Corp. v.
Robertson, 147 F.3d 1301, 1306 (11th Cir. 1998);
Cate v. Oldham, 707 F.2d 1176, 1185 (11th Cir.
1983); Shatel Corp. v. Mao Ta Lumber and Yacht
Corp., 697 F.2d 1352, 1354-55 (11th Cir. 1983).
“In this Circuit, ‘[a] preliminary injunction is
an extraordinary and drastic remedy not to be granted unless
the movant clearly established the "burden of
persuasion"" as to the four requisites.”
McDonald's, 147 F.3d at 1306; All Care
Nursing Service, Inc. v. Bethesda Mem'l Hosp. Inc.,
887 F.2d 1535, 1537 (11th Cir. 1989) (a preliminary
injunction is issued only when “drastic relief”
is necessary); Texas v. Seatrain Int'l, S.A.,
518 F.2d 175, 179 (5th Cir. 1975) (grant of preliminary
injunction “is the exception rather than the rule,
” and movant must clearly carry the burden of
persuasion). The moving party's failure to demonstrate a
“substantial likelihood of success on the merits”
may defeat the party's claim, regardless of the
party's ability to establish any of the other elements.
Church v. City of Huntsville, 30 F.3d 1332, 1342
(11th Cir. 1994); see also Siegel v. Lepore, 234
F.3d 1163, 1176 (11th Cir. 2000) (noting that “the
absence of a substantial likelihood of irreparable injury
would, standing alone, make preliminary injunctive relief
improper”). “‘The chief function of a
preliminary injunction is to preserve the status quo until
the merits of the controversy can be fully and fairly
adjudicated.'” Suntrust Bank v. Houghton
Mifflin Co., 268 F.3d 1257, 1265 (11th Cir.
2001)(quoting Northeastern Fla. Chapter of Associated
Gen. Contractors of America v. City of Jacksonville, 896
F.2d 1283, 1284 (11th Cir. 1990).
motion for injunctive relief does not successfully make the
demanding showing required for this extraordinary form of
relief. First, Plaintiff has not shown a substantial
likelihood of prevailing on the merits of his request that
Defendants be enjoined from prohibiting his filing of
criminal charges against his attacker, as he does not have a
constitutional right to see his alleged persecutors punished
for their conduct. "[A] private citizen lacks a
judicially cognizable interest in the prosecution or
nonprosecution of another." Linda R.S. v. Richard
D., 410 U.S. 614, 619 (1973 see also Leeke v.
Timmerman, 454 U.S. 83 (1981); Otero v. U.S.
Att'y Gen., 832 F.2d 141, 141 (11th Cir.1987).
Plaintiff's request for placement in protective custody,
Plaintiff fails to show that a preliminary injunction is
necessary to prevent irreparable harm. While the court takes
Plaintiff's allegations of the threat of harm seriously,
in view of Defendants' responses to Plaintiff's
request for preliminary injunctive relief, and
Plaintiff's replies, Plaintiff does not appear to be in
imminent danger of being harmed at Ventress in his current
housing assignment. Courts are generally hesitant to grant
motions for injunctive relief that interfere with a
prison's administrative decisions, including inmate
housing assignments or assignment of inmates to a specific
facility. See e.g., Freeman v. Fuller, 623 F.Supp.
1224, 1227 (S.D. Fla. 1985) (finding that the placement of
inmates inside a prison “is a matter peculiarly within
the province of prison authorities' administrative
duties” and that federal courts “accord great
deference to administrative decisions rendered by prison
authorities and will not interfere except in extreme
cases”). The United States Supreme Court has warned
that “in the absence of substantial evidence in the
record” to indicate that the officials have exaggerated
their response to [security or administrative
considerations], courts should ordinarily defer to their
expert judgment in such matters.” Bell v.
Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 547-48 (1979).
establish irreparable injury, Plaintiff must show he will
suffer harm that “cannot be redressed by a legal or an
equitable remedy” through the ordinary course of
litigation. See Instant Air Freight Co. v. C.F. Air
Freight, Inc., 882 F.2d 797, 801 (3d Cir. 1989)
(“The preliminary injunction must be the only way of
protecting the plaintiff from harm”). At this juncture,
the court finds no basis on which to override prison
officials' judgment regarding Plaintiff's housing
placement and their response to his allegations of possible
harm. In addition, it is impossible to determine what burden
an injunction would have on the Alabama Department of
Corrections, and whether issuing an injunction would harm the
public interest, because it is not fully apparent what
Plaintiff's requested relief would involve, given his
failure or inability to identify the source of the hit that
he alleges remains in place. Under these circumstances,
issuance of a preliminary injunction is not warranted in this