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Hurlbut v. Merritt

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

May 22, 2019




         This is a civil rights action provisionally filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and (3)(2011), the Honorable Robert T. Dawson, United States District Judge, referred this case to the undersigned for the purpose of making a Report and Recommendation.

         Currently before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction (ECF No. 9), Motion for Sanctions and Injunction, (ECF No. 15), Motion to Reconsider (ECF No. 17), Motion to Appeal IFP (ECF No. 26), and Motion to Correct Clerical Error. (ECF No. 24).

         A. Motion for Preliminary Injunction

         Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Correction (“ADC”) Grimes Unit. He alleges he received an improper inmate classification while incarcerated in the ADC Ouachita River Unit. (ECF No. 9). Specifically, he alleges his “height, weight, medical/mental health, length of sentence, race, violence, etc.” were not considered. (Id. at 1). As a result, he has been forced out of protective custody and into general population, which placed his life in danger. (Id. at 2.). Plaintiff believes he should remain in permanent protective custody. (Id. at 3). He alleges that when he refused to enter general population on the advice of his lawyer, [1] he was charged with a disciplinary action, prevented from achieving Class III Status, and then immediately transferred from the Ouachita River Unit to the Cummins Unit. (Id. at 2). Plaintiff seeks an Order keeping him in permanent protective custody, thereby preventing “retaliatory” discipline charges against him when he refuses to return to general population. (Id. at 2, 3, 5).

         Plaintiff's transfer from ADC Ouachita River Unit to the ADC Cummins Unit rendered his request for injunctive relief moot. See Smith v. Hundley, 190 F.3d 852, 855 (8th Cir. 1999) (holding an inmate's First Amendment claims regarding denial of items to perform religious practices moot once he was transferred from one state penitentiary facility to another state penitentiary facility). See also Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985) (holding an inmate's claims regarding prison conditions were moot once the inmate was transferred). Therefore, Plaintiff's Complaint should be dismissed as moot. See Church of Scientology v. United States, 506 U.S. 9, 12 (1992) (A federal court has no authority to issue opinions on moot questions of law). Further, Plaintiff's failure to protect and conditions of confinement claims, including those based on his alleged improper classification, were dismissed during PLRA preservice screening for this case. (ECF No. 11).

         Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction (ECF No. 9) should be DENIED.

         B. Motion for Sanctions and Injunction

         With this Motion, Plaintiff alleges that the ADC is transferring him from the ADC Cummins Unit in order to moot his conditions of confinement claims. He asks the Court to issue an order preventing any further transfers or disciplinary actions against him. He further threatens “a never-ending succession of lawsuits.” (ECF No. 15). As stated above, Plaintiff's conditions of confinement claims in this case were dismissed at PLRA preservice screening. Further, the administration of prisons is not within the province of the courts except in the very rare case where there is undisputed evidence demonstrating that an inmate is subject to an “unusually high risk of physical danger.” Walker v. Lockhart, 713 F.2d 1378, 1383 (8th Cir.1983). There is no such undisputed evidence here. Plaintiff's surviving personal capacity claims against two Ouachita River Unit Defendants for retaliation and excessive force have been served, and any Summary Judgment Motions for this case are due on August 12, 2019. (ECF No. 21).

         Plaintiff's Motion for Sanctions and Injunction (ECF No.15) should be DENIED.

         C. Motion to Reconsider

         Before the Court is Defendant's Motion (ECF No. 17) for Reconsideration of the Court's Preservice Screening Order. (ECF No. 11). No. response has been filed, but none is necessary.

         Motions to reconsider are not mentioned in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, so “[f]ederal courts have construed this type of motion as arising under either Rule 59(e) (motion to alter or amend the judgment) or Rule 60(b) (relief from judgment, order, or proceeding).” Sanders v. Clemco Indus., 862 F.2d 161, 168 (8th Cir. 1988). Rule 59(e) motions “serve a limited function: to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.” Hagerman v. Yukon Energy Corp., 839 F.2d 407, 414 (8th Cir. 1988). Rule 60(b) motions require the moving party to demonstrate “exceptional circumstances warranting post-judgment relief.” Arnold v. Wood, 238 F.3d 992, 998 (8th Cir. 2001).

         Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration (ECF No. 17) provides no basis for relief under either of ...

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