United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Miller, Pro Se Plaintiff.
P. Jones United States District Judge.
plaintiff, Edwin Miller, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se,
recently filed an Amended Complaint under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, alleging past violations of his constitutional and
statutory rights to free exercise of his Shia Muslim
religious dietary beliefs. Miller alleges, generally, that in
November 2014, the defendants wrongfully removed him from his
religious diet for six months and denied him participation in
the annual Ramadan fast in 2015. He further alleges that
meals provided to him in 2014 and 2015 violated his religious
beliefs and caused him to have a heart attack. The defendants
are currently scheduled to respond to the Amended Complaint
by mid-August 2016. Now Miller has filed a "MOTION FOR A
TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION,
" along with a proposed order granting such relief.
After review of the record, I conclude that the motion must
current motion, Miller repeats all of the allegations from
his Amended Complaint - about removal from his Shia Muslim
diet in 2014, denial of Ramadan participation in 2015, and
the 2015 heart attack, and the allegedly unsatisfactory
responses from supervisory officials. Miller also adds some
allegations. In November 2014, a K-9 officer allegedly
allowed a dog to bite Miller for no reason. (Miller Decl. Ex.
A, at 3-4, ECF No. 38-2.) Since Miller filed this lawsuit in
November 2015, officers have allegedly harassed and
threatened him, refused his requests for administrative
remedy forms, and denied his application for a transfer to a
lower security prison or for out-of-state placement, despite
the fact that a known enemy of Miller's is currently
incarcerated at Red Onion State Prison ("Red
Onion"). (Miller Decl. Ex. A, ECF No. 38-2.) Miller
asserts that officers took these adverse actions against him
in retaliation for the lawsuit. He "fears" that
without court intervention, the defendants will encourage
their friends and relatives employed by the prison system to
"threaten, harass, abuse author[it]y and set [him]
up." (Id. at 10-11.) Miller states, "I
truly believe" living at Red Onion or other prisons in
the region "will put my life in danger."
(Id. at 11.)
on these allegations, Miller seeks interlocutory injunctive
relief enjoining the defendants and all other prison
officials from: denying Miller's use of the grievance
procedures, denying him good conduct time, denying him a
transfer, miscalculating his security level score, or coming
within fifty feet of Miller or his personal property. (Mot.,
ECF No. 38-1.) Specifically, Miller seeks a transfer to a
lower security level prison in the eastern region of Virginia
or in New Jersey. (Id.)
conclude that Miller has not alleged facts warranting the
interlocutory injunctive relief he seeks. The party seeking a
preliminary injunction must make a clear showing "that
he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to
suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief,
that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an
injunction is in the public interest." Winter v.
Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008).
factual allegations do not meet these four required elements.
As an initial matter, he presents no facts showing that any
of the adverse actions of which he complains were motivated
in any respect by his pending lawsuit. Such merely conclusory
allegations of retaliation are not actionable under §
1983. Adams v. Rice, 40 F.3d 72, 74 (4th Cir. 1994).
Therefore, Miller does not show any likelihood of success on
a retaliation claim or any imminent, irreparable harm he is
likely to suffer in the absence of court intervention.
allegations also do not meet the three other requirements for
interlocutory relief. He does not describe any irreparable
harm he is likely to suffer from merely being verbally
threatened or harassed, from being denied administrative
remedy forms, from retaining his current security
classification or housing assignment, or from not being
granted a transfer at this time. Miller has raised no claim
in his Amended Complaint about the enemy inmate who is
allegedly incarcerated at Red Onion, and his current motion
does not describe any specific situation that has arisen, or
is likely to occur, at Red Onion allowing his enemy to harm
him in any way. Moreover, if such a risk exists, Miller does
not indicate any attempt he has made to notify Red Onion
officials or to seek protection. Finally, I cannot find that
the balance of the equities or the public interest weigh in
Miller's favor so as to warrant the court's
interference in prison officials' discretionary
administrative decisions regarding such matters as
Miller's security level, his possible transfer, and his
stated reasons, I conclude that Miller has not made the
necessary, four-factor showing that his situation warrants
interlocutory relief. Therefore, I will deny his motion.
separate Order will be entered herewith.
 Miller requests a temporary
restraining order and a preliminary injunction. Temporary
restraining orders are issued only rarely, when the movant
proves that he will suffer injury if relief is not granted
before the adverse party could be notified and have
opportunity to respond. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(b).
Such an order would only last until such time as a hearing on
a preliminary injunction could be arranged. As it is clear
from the outset that Miller is not ...