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Thompson v. Laclair

January 22, 2008

MILTON THOMPSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DARWIN LACLAIR, SUPERINTENDENT; A. MCKEE, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER; AND N. IRWIN, LIEUTENANT, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Scullin, Senior Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. BACKGROUND

The Clerk of the Court has sent Plaintiff Milton Thompson's civil rights complaint, his application to proceed in forma pauperis, and a fully executed inmate authorization form to the Court for its review. See Dkt. Nos. 1-3. Plaintiff has also filed a motion for injunctive relief.*fn1

In his pro se complaint, Plaintiff alleges, among other things, the denial of a constitutionally cognizable liberty interest without having been afforded procedural due process, as required under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, cruel and unusual punishment in violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment, and a third cause of action, denominated as the second, based upon the loss of certain of his property and the denial of an internal claim for reimbursement to compensate him for that loss. See, generally, Complaint ("Dkt. No. 1"). Plaintiff's due process claim, the sole cause of action implicated in his motion for injunctive relief, stems from an August 2007 disciplinary hearing that resulted in a finding of guilt and the imposition of a penalty of thirty days in keeplock confinement with a corresponding loss of recreation, package, commissary, and phone privileges. See id.

II. DISCUSSION

A. In Forma Pauperis Application

After reviewing Plaintiff's in forma pauperis application, see Dkt. No. 2, and in light of his filing of a signed inmate authorization form, the Court finds that Plaintiff may properly proceed with this matter in forma pauperis.

B. Injunctive Relief

In support of his motion for injunctive relief, Plaintiff alleges that, as a result of his confinement in the special housing unit ("SHU"), he was removed from an Alcohol Substance Abuse Treatment program ("ASAT") before he completed that program.*fn2 See Dkt. No. 4.

Plaintiff requests that the Court direct Defendants to expunge his record regarding the disciplinary penalty and credit him for the five-and-one-half months of the ASAT program that he completed prior to his confinement in keeplock and, presumably, further direct Defendants to permit him to complete the program as soon as possible. See id.; see also Dkt. No. 1 at 10 (requesting that Plaintiff receive credit for all the time that he invested in the ASAT program and be permitted to complete that program). To establish that he will suffer irreparable harm, absent the injunctive relief he seeks, Plaintiff states that he is due to appear before the New York State Parole Board in February, 2008, at which time he will be required to demonstrate that he has completed the ASAT program or risk denial of parole. See Dkt. No. 4.

The standard that a court must use when considering whether to grant a request for injunctive relief is well-settled in this Circuit. To warrant the issuance of a preliminary injunction, a movant must show (a) irreparable harm and (b) either (1) a likelihood of success on the merits of the claim or (2) sufficiently serious questions going to the merits and a balance of hardships tipping decidedly toward the party seeking injunctive relief. See D.D. ex rel. V.D. v. New York City Bd. of Educ., 465 F.3d 503, 510 (2d Cir. 2006) (quotation omitted).

1. Irreparable Harm

Where an alleged deprivation of constitutional harm is involved, courts generally do not require that the party seeking injunctive relief make a further showing of irreparable harm. See Mitchell v. Cuomo, 748 F.2d 804, 806 (2d Cir. 1984) (quotation and other citations omitted). In this case, Plaintiff alleges that, in spending thirty days in the SHU as a result of his disciplinary infraction, he lost the five-and-one-half months of credit he earned while he was enrolled in the ASAT program and was unable to complete that program. According to Plaintiff, he is due to appear before the New York State Parole Board in February, 2008, and his failure to complete the ASAT program may result in the denial of parole. Accepting Plaintiff's allegations as true for the sole purpose of considering this motion, the Court finds that, to the extent that Plaintiff might be denied parole because of his failure to complete the ASAT program as a result of his thirty-day SHU confinement in August, 2007, the Plaintiff may suffer irreparable harm related to his alleged due process claim should the Court deny his request for injunctive relief.*fn3

2. Likelihood of success on the merits or sufficiently serious questions regarding the merits and a balance of hardships ...


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