United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
AARON A. LUCIANO, Plaintiff,
VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES, et al.T Defendants.
MICHAEL F. URBANSKI CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
se plaintiff Aaron A. Luciano filed an amended complaint in
this action on August 27, 2018, alleging due process and
equal protection violations arising from the suspension of
his driver's license due to nonpayment of court
costs. ECF No. 14. On September 21, 2018, Luciano
filed a motion for preliminary injunction asking the court to
enjoin the defendants from enforcing Va. Code § 46.2-395
during the pendency of this action and to "remove any
current suspensions of [his] driver's license imposed
under Section 46.2-395." ECF No. 21. For the reasons set
forth below, Luciano's motion for preliminary injunction
will be DENIED.
preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy never
awarded as of right." Winter v. Natural Res. Def.
Council. Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008); see also Real
Truth About Obama. Inc. v. Fed. Election Comm'n. 575
F.3d 342, 345 (4th Cir. 2009), vacated on other
grounds. 130 S.Ct. 2371 (2010), reinstated in
relevant part. 607 F.3d 355 (4th Cir. 2010). It is a
remedy that is '"granted only sparingly and in
limited circumstances.'" MicroStrategy. Inc. v.
Motorola. Inc.. 245 F.3d 335, 339 (4th Cir. 2001)
(quoting Direx Israel. Ltd. v. Breakthrough Med.
Corp.. 952 F.2d 802, 816 (4th Cir. 1991) (internal
quotation marks omitted)). Courts "must balance the
competing claims of injury and must consider the effect on
each party of the granting or withholding of the requested
relief." Amoco Prod. Co. v. Gambell, 480 U.S.
531, 542 (1987). "In exercising their sound discretion,
courts of equity should pay particular regard for the public
consequences in employing the extraordinary remedy of
injunction." Weinberger v. Romero-Barcelo, 456
U.S. 305, 312 (1982); see also Railroad Comm'n of
Tex, v. Pullman Co.. 312 U.S. 496, 500 (1941).
plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish
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." 555 U.S.
at 20; see also Real Truth About Obama. 575 F.3d at
347 (noting that, post-Winter. a plaintiff must make
a "clear showing" that he is likely to succeed on
the merits and is likely to be irreparably harmed absent
preliminary relief); Cantley v. W. Virginia Reg'l
Jail & Corr. Facility Auth.. 771 F.3d 201, 207 (4th
Cir. 2014). A preliminary injunction cannot be issued unless
all four of these elements are met. See Winter, 555
U.S. at 20; see also League of Women Voters of N.
Carolina v. N. Carolina. 769 F.3d 224, 236 (4th Cir.
seeks extraordinary relief at an early stage of this
litigation. He asks the court to enjoin enforcement of Va.
Code § 46.2-395 during the pendency of this action and
effectively reinstate his driver's license. ECF No. 21,
at 1. In support of this request for relief, Luciano states
that he is likely to succeed on the merits of his claims, he
has "suffered since 2007 off and on and will continue to
suffer irreparable harm" due to his alleged
constitutional injury, the equities weigh in his favor; and
an injunction is just and fair. Id. Although
reviewing Luciano's pro se motion liberally and
to a less stringent standard, the court finds Luciano's
bases for relief conclusory and far short of sufficient to
support a preliminary injunction. C£ Breyan v.
Commander. No. 2:16-CV-3926-BHH-MGB, 2017 WL 2560934, at
*2 (D.S.C. May 25, 2017), report and recommendation
adopted. No. 2:16-CV-3926-BHH, 2017 WL 2560000 (D.S.C.
June 13, 2017) (denying preliminary injunctive relief
"[e]ven with the liberal construction afforded to pro se
has not demonstrated that "he is likely to succeed on
the merits." Dewhurst. v. Century Aluminum
Co.. 649 F.3d 287, 290 (4th Cir. 2011). His
constitutional challenge to Va. Code § 46.2-395(B) may
face jurisdictional difficulties based on the decisions
entered to date in Stinnie v. Holcomb. No.
3:16-CV-00044, 2017 WL 963234 (W.D. Va. Mar. 13, 2017),
appeal dismissed, cause remanded. No. 17-1740, 2018
WL 2337750 (4th Cir. May 23, 2018). In Stinnie, the
court held that it did not have jurisdiction over a challenge
to Va. Code § 46.2-395, but noted that "it may be
possible to reconstitute [claims like this] in a form and
against a defendant such that a lower federal court would
have jurisdiction." 2017 WL 963234, at *1, *20. On
appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
remanded Stinnie because the dismissal without
prejudice was not a final order; however, the court noted
that the plaintiffs may be able to reconstitute their claims
to obtain jurisdiction. See Stinnie v. Holcomb.. No.
17-1740, 2018 WL 2337750, at *2 (4th Cir. May 23, 2018).
Stinnie is now before the district court on remand.
Some of the jurisdictional concerns in Stinnie may
be relevant to this action. As Luciano has not explained how
he is likely to succeed, and the Stinnie decisions
have not clarified the state of the law, Luciano has not
demonstrated tiiat he is likely to succeed on the merits for
the purposes of a preliminary injunction.
further has not made "a clear showing that [he] is
likely to be irreparably harmed absent preliminary
relief." Real Truth About Obama. 575 F.3d at
347. Preliminary injunctions are meant to "protect the
status quo and to prevent irreparable harm during the
pendency of a lawsuit ultimately to preserve the court's
ability to render a meaningful judgment on the merits."
In re Microsoft Corp. Antitrust Litig., 333 F.3d
517, 525 (4th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted), abrogation
on other grounds recognized in Bethesda Softworks. LLC v.
Interplay Entm't Corp.. No. 11-1860, 2011 WL
5084587, at *2 (4th Cir. Oct. 26, 2011). The Fourth Circuit
has explained that "the required 'irreparable
harm' must be 'neither remote nor speculative, but
actual and imminent.'" Direx Israel, 952
F.2d at 812 (quoting Tucker Anthony Realty Corp. v.
Schlesinger. 888 F.2d 969, 975 (2d Cir. 1989) and citing
ECRI v. McGraw-Hill. Inc.. 809 F.2d 223, 226 (3d
Cir. 1987)). Luciano states in his motion that he has
"suffered since 2007 off and on," presumably due to
his lack of driver's license. This does not support a
finding of irreparable harm. The status quo has been for
Luciano to have a suspended license. While the court
sympathizes with Luciano regarding the difficulties that
arise from lacking a license, Luciano has not explained the
actual and imminent harm that he will suffer during the
pendency of this litigation that could not be rectified by a
judgment or that differs from the status quo. Luciano has not
made a clear showing of irreparable harm.
the third and fourth factors, Luciano only makes conclusory
statements regarding the balance of equities and the public
interest. Arguments could be fairly made by Luciano and the
defendants as to both factors weighing in their favor.
However, as Luciano has not shown a likelihood of success or
irreparable harm, Luciano has not carried his burden for
preliminary injunctive relief.
Luciano's motion for preliminary injunction (ECF No. 21)
is DENIED at this time. Luciano may renew
his motion in the future if new facts or case law arise to
support a likelihood of success on the merits or irreparable
harm during the pendency of this litigation.
appropriate Order will ...