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Redd v. Lutgen

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

October 23, 2013

TROY REDD, Plaintiff,
v.
DUSTIN LUTGEN, et al, Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER

LEONARD T. STRAND UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

Plaintiff Troy Redd, an inmate in Iowa’s state prison system, has filed an application (Doc. No. 26) for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order. He seeks to block his then-planned, and now-completed, transfer from one correctional facility to another. Defendants have filed a resistance (Doc. No. 27). Judge Bennett has referred the motion to me for preparation of a report and recommended disposition. Having reviewed the written submissions, I find that oral argument is not necessary and that it is not necessary to await a reply brief. See N.D. Ia. L.R. 7(c), 7(g).

BACKGROUND

Redd filed this lawsuit on September 12, 2011. Due to various delays, his pro se complaint was not accepted for filing until August 27, 2012, and was not served until February 2013. Redd contends that the defendants violated his constitutional right to the free exercise of religion while Redd was an inmate at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility (Fort Dodge). The five named defendants are individuals who were, during the relevant period of time, associated with the Iowa Department of Corrections. Redd alleges that he is a Muslim and that in 2009 the defendants improperly restricted his participation in the Ramadan fast and the feast that marks the end of Ramadan. Defendants deny Redd’s claim and have filed a motion for summary judgment, which Redd has resisted. That motion is currently pending.

On October 15, 2013, Redd filed his present application for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order. Redd contends that the defendants have repeatedly transferred him from one facility to another in retaliation for his filing of this case. Specifically, he contends that he was transferred from Fort Dodge to the Newton Correctional Facility (Newton) in February 2013, just two weeks after the defendants were served with notice of this lawsuit. He further contends that the defendants have announced an intention to transfer him again, this time to the Clarinda Correctional Facility (Clarinda). And, in fact, the defendants acknowledge that this transfer was completed on October 16, 2013.

Redd contends that these transfers have caused injury to him by burdening his family and making it difficult for them to visit him. He states that Fort Dodge was a convenient location for his incarceration, as it was a short drive for his family members who reside in Waterloo, Iowa. He further states that some of his family members suffer from medical conditions that make it difficult for them to visit him at Clarinda. He contends that the recent transfers violate defendants’ own policies and that they have occurred for retaliatory reasons. He seeks injunctive relief which would, now that the transfer has occurred, require defendants to return him to Newton.

Defendants, by way of resistance, deny that injunctive relief is appropriate. They contend that Redd has suffered no irreparable harm, that the harm to the Iowa Department of Corrections if an injunction issues would exceed any alleged harm to Redd, and that Redd is unlikely to prevail on the merits of his claim. Defendants suggest that the relief Redd requests would amount to improper interference by this court with the operation of the Iowa state prison system.

ANALYSIS

A. Standards For Considering A Request For Preliminary Injunction

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has stated:

When evaluating whether to issue a preliminary injunction, a district court should consider four factors: (1) the threat of irreparable harm to the movant; (2) the state of the balance between this harm and the injury that granting the injunction will inflict on other parties; (3) the probability that the movant will succeed on the merits; and (4) the public interest.

Roudachevski v. All–American Care Centers, Inc., 648 F.3d 701, 705 (8th Cir. 2011) (citing Dataphase Sys., Inc. v. C L Sys., Inc., 640 F.2d 109, 114 (8th Cir. 1981) (en banc)). In this circuit, these are often referred to as the “Dataphase” factors. In applying these factors, the court must keep in mind that a preliminary injunction is “an extraordinary remedy never awarded as of right.” Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008). And, of course, the party seeking injunctive relief bears the burden of proving that it is appropriate. Roudachevski, 648 F.3d at 705.

In this case, a threshold question exists as to whether it is even appropriate to consider the Dataphase factors. This is because the relief Redd now seeks is different from the relief requested in his complaint. Redd seeks a preliminary injunction to prevent (or reverse) his transfer from one facility to another. In his complaint, Redd alleges that the defendants violated his First Amendment right to the free exercise of his religious beliefs in connection with “a religious feast and prayer.” Doc. No. 4 at 3. While his complaint does not specify the relevant time period, his other filings in this case state that the alleged events forming the basis of his claim took place in 2009. See, e.g., Doc. No. 24-2 at 1-3. His complaint states that the relief he requests is “monetary relief as the Court or Jury see as just.” Doc. No. 4 at 4.

Redd has not amended his complaint, nor has he sought leave to do so. As such, the only claim pending in this case is a claim for money damages based on events that allegedly occurred in 2009. Now, however, Redd seeks entry of a preliminary injunction concerning the location of his incarceration. In particular, he complains that his transfer from Newton to Clarinda was improper and was driven by retaliatory motives. Even if he is correct, I must first consider whether ...


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