United States District Court, N.D. New York
JOHN DOE #1, JOHN DOE #2, JOHN DOE #3, JOHN DOE #4 and JOHN DOE #5, Plaintiffs,
SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY; KEN SYVERUD, individually and as Chancellor of Syracuse University; PAMELA PETER, individually and as Assistant Dean of Student Rights and Affairs and the Director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities; ROBERT HRADSKY, individually and as Syracuse University Dean of Students and Associate Vice President of the Student Experience; and TERESA ABI-NADER DAHLBERG, individually and as the Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, Defendants.
SOVIK, KENDRICK & SUGNET, P.C. Attorneys for Plaintiffs
HANCOCK ESTABROOK, LLP Attorneys for Defendants
M. KATZ, ESQ. KAREN G. FELTER, ESQ. KEVIN E. HULSLANDER, ESQ.
JOHN POWERS, ESQ.
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
FREDERICK J. SCULLIN, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
13, 2018, Plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary
restraining order and a preliminary injunction by Order to
Show Cause. See Dkt. No. 14. That same day,
the Court denied the motion for a temporary restraining order
and scheduled a motion hearing regarding Plaintiff's
motion for a preliminary injunction for June 21, 2018.
See Id. At the conclusion of the motion hearing, the
Court reserved decision on the motion and directed counsel to
file supplemental briefing on several issues. The parties
filed their supplemental papers on June 25, 2018.
See Dkt. Nos. 21-22. Having completed its review of
all of the parties' submissions, as well as their oral
arguments, the following constitutes the Court's written
disposition of Plaintiff's motion.
"[a] party seeking a preliminary injunction must show
(1) irreparable harm; (2) either a likelihood of success on
the merits or both serious questions on the merits and a
balance of hardships decidedly favoring the moving party; and
(3) that a preliminary injunction is in the public
interest." North Am. Soccer League v. U.S. Soccer
Fed'n, 883 F.3d 32, 37 (2d Cir. 2018) (citation
omitted). However, when a party seeks a mandatory, as opposed
to a prohibitory, injunction, "[b]ecause [such]
injunctions disrupt the status quo, a party seeking one must
meet a heightened legal standard by showing 'a clear or
substantial likelihood of success on the merits.'"
Id. (quoting N.Y. Civ. Liberties Union v. N.Y.C.
Transit Auth., 684 F.3d 286, 294 (2d Cir. 2012)).
"the proposed injunction's effect on the status quo
drives the standard, [the court's first step is to]
ascertain the status quo - that is, 'the last actual,
peaceable uncontested status which preceded the pending
controversy.'" Id. (quoting Mastrio v.
Sebelius, 768 F.3d 116, 120 (2d Cir. 2014) (per curiam)
(quoting La-Rouche v. Kezer, 20 F.3d 68, 74 n.7 (2d
Cir. 1994)) (footnote omitted). In the context of a
preliminary injunction, "[t]he 'status quo' . .
. is really a 'status quo ante.'" Id.
at 37 n.5 (citations omitted). The Second Circuit explained
that "[t]his special 'ante' formulation of the
status quo in the realm of equities shuts out defendants
seeking shelter under a current 'status quo'
precipitated by their wrongdoing." Id.; see
also O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao Do Vegetal v.
Ashcroft, 389 F.3d 973, 1012 (10th Cir. 2004) (en
banc) (per curiam) (explaining that determining
the status quo is important in this context because,
"[a]t the preliminary injunction stage, . . ., the
function of the court is not to take whatever steps are
necessary to prevent irreparable harm, but primarily to keep
things as they were, until the court is able to determine the
parties' respective legal rights").
surprisingly, the parties do not agree on what constitutes
the "status quo ante." Plaintiffs assert that
"the last actual, peaceable uncontested status which
preceded the pending controversy" was the moment before
Defendants placed a hold on their student accounts and
refused to release their transcripts without a disciplinary
notation. On the other hand, Defendants argue that "the
last actual, peaceable uncontested status" was the
situation that existed immediately prior to Plaintiffs filing
this lawsuit on April 24, 2018, at which time there was a
hold on Plaintiffs' academic files, including their
reviewing the entire record in this matter, the Court
concludes that, because Defendant University's policy and
regular procedure was to place a hold on a student's
academic file in all student conduct cases that involved
charges that might result in a suspension or when the case
arose close to the end of the semester, see Dkt. No.
20-3 ("Nestor Decl.") at ¶ 3,  the status quo
ante was the relationship that existed between the parties
immediately prior to Plaintiffs commencement of this action
on April 24, 2018, at which point there was a hold on
Plaintiffs' academic files.
determined the "status quo ante," the Court must
next determine whether Plaintiffs are seeking a mandatory ...