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Bucklew v. Clair

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

May 15, 2019

SARAH BUCKLEW, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER MATT ST. CLAIR, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION

          IRMA CARRILLO RAMIREZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         By Order of Reference, filed December 14, 2018 (doc. 19), this pro se case has been referred for full case management.[1] Before the Court for recommendation is Plaintiff's Ex Parte Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, filed February 20, 2019 (doc. 30). Based on the relevant filings and applicable law, the motion should be DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND[2]

         On August 14, 2018, Sarah Bucklew (Plaintiff) filed this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988 against Garland Police Officers Matt St. Clair and M. Clark (Officers), in their individual capacities, and the City of Garland (City) (collectively, Defendants), for allegedly violating her Fourth Amendment rights when she was involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric hospital on May 1, 2018. (See doc. 1 at 2, 7-12.) She seeks compensatory damages “against all Defendants, jointly and severally, in an amount to be determined at trial;” nominal damages for violations of her civil rights; punitive damages against the officers; costs, expenses, and attorney fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b); and “other relief” the Court deems “just and deserving.” (Id. at 14.)

         On February 20, 2019, Plaintiff filed an “Ex Parte Motion for Temporary Restraining Order.” (doc. 30.) She claims that since June 2017, Defendants have gained unlawful access to her computers and intellectual property in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030. (Id. at 1-2.) She requests an ex parte order barring them from “continuing to hack, or gain unlawful access to [her] intellectual property and computers;” “continuing to contact and/or communicate with [her] original mortgager or mortgage servicer until a further order can be sought in this matter;” “continuing to contact and/or communicate with Child Protective Services Unit of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, in order to harass and intimidate [her];” and “continuing to contact and/or communicate with anyone or any entity regarding [her], [her] property and/or [her] family. . . .” (Id. at 9-10.) The ex parte motion was ordered served on Defendants, and they responded on March 18, 2019. (docs. 32, 36.) Plaintiff filed a reply on March 22, 2019 (doc. 37), and an amended reply on March 25, 2019.[3] (doc. 38.)

         II. TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER

         A preliminary injunction can be issued only after notice to the adverse party. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(a)(1). Although a court may issue a TRO without notice to the adverse party, it may only do so if:

(A) specific facts in an affidavit or a verified complaint clearly show that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result to the movant before the adverse party can be heard in opposition; and
(B) the movant's attorney certifies in writing any efforts made to give notice and the reasons why it should not be required.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(b)(1). Here, Defendants have received notice and have filed a response to Plaintiff's motion, so these elements need not be considered.[4] (See docs. 36, 38.)

         To obtain a TRO, Plaintiff must satisfy the substantive requirements for a preliminary injunction. Mktg. Investors Corp. v. New Millennium Bank, No. 3:11-CV-1696-D, 2011 WL 3157214, at *1 (N.D. Tex. July 26, 2011) (“To obtain a temporary restraining order, an applicant must show entitlement to a preliminary injunction.” (citations omitted)); see Hassani v. Napolitano, No. 3:09-CV-1201-D, 2009 WL 2044596, at *1 (N.D. Tex. July 15, 2009) (noting a TRO is “simply a highly accelerated and temporary form of preliminary injunctive relief”). A preliminary injunction is “an extraordinary remedy that may only be awarded upon a clear showing that the plaintiff is entitled to such relief.” Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, 555 U.S. 7, 22 (2008). To obtain a preliminary injunction, the movant must establish that: (1) she is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) she is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) the balance of equities tips in her favor; and (4) an injunction is in the public interest. Tex. Midstream Gas Servs., LLC. v. City of Grand Prairie, 608 F.3d 200, 206 (5th Cir. 2010) (citing id at 20). The party seeking the preliminary injunction bears the burden of persuasion on all four requirements. Bluefield Water Assoc., Inc. v. City of Starkville, Miss., 577 F.3d 250, 253 (5th Cir. 2009).

         Although the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has not specifically addressed this issue, district courts within this circuit have found that a request for preliminary injunction must also be based on allegations related to the claims in the complaint. See Gill v. Neaves, 657 F.Supp. 1394, 1399 (W.D. Tex. 1987) (denying request for a temporary restraining and preliminary injunction in part because “the grounds alleged in the motion ha[d] absolutely nothing to do with the underlying cause of action”); see also Walcott v. Terrebonne Par. Consol. Gov't, No. CV 17-1125, 2017 WL 6371577, at *1 (E.D. La. Nov. 20, 2017) (recommending the denial of a prisoner's motion for preliminary injunction because he was seeking injunctive relief “wholly unrelated to the claims in this lawsuit”), adopted by 2017 WL 6344149 (E.D. La. Dec. 12, 2017). “[I]f the motion raises issues different from those presented in the complaint, the court has no jurisdiction over the motion.” Infinite Fin. Sols., Inc. v. Strukmyer, LLC, No. 3:14-CV-354-N, 2014 WL 12586282, at *9 (N.D. Tex. July 29, 2014) (quoting Adair v. England, 193 F.Supp.2d 196, 200 (D. D.C. 2002)) (citations omitted).[5]

         Here, Plaintiff originally sued Defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for allegedly violating her Fourth Amendment rights in connection with her involuntarily mental health hospitalization on May 1, 2018, and she sought monetary damages. (doc. 1 at 1-2, 13-14.) She now seeks to enjoin Defendants from hacking or gaining unlawful access to her intellectual property and computers and communicating with any person or entity about her, her property, and her family, however. (doc. 30 at 9-10.) Because she seeks injunctive relief unrelated to the claims in her lawsuit, jurisdiction is lacking. See Infinite Fin. Sols., 2014 WL 12586282, at *9 (finding the court “plainly” did not have jurisdiction to hear the request for preliminary injunction on a trademark claim because no such claim was asserted in the amended complaint). Her request for injunctive relief should therefore be denied. See Schwartz v. United States Department of Justice, CA No. 06-5581, 2007 WL 2916465, at *3 (D.N.J. Oct. 4, 2007) (“A preliminary injunction grants intermediate relief of the same character as that which may be granted finally. When the movant seeks intermediate relief beyond the claims in the complaint, the court is powerless to enter a preliminary injunction.” (citations and quotation marks omitted)).[6]

         III. ...


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