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Gard v. Kaemingk

United States District Court, D. South Dakota

August 18, 2014

REX GARD, Plaintiff,
DENNIS KAEMINGK; DOUG WEBER; BOB DOOLEY; TROY PONTO; LELAND TJEERDSMA; CLIFTON FANTROY; GEORGE DEGELMAN; SGT. LARSON; Property Officer BERTHELSON; Each person named individually and in their official capacity, Defendants.


LAWRENCE L. PIERSOL, District Judge.

Pending before the Court are Plaintiffs second motion to amend complaint (Docket 31), motion for preliminary and permanent injunction (Docket 31), motion to appoint counsel (Docket 32), motion for partial summary judgment (Docket 38), and motion to compel (Docket 51). Also pending before the Court is Defendants' request to stay discovery and issue a protective order (Docket 42). The Court will address each of the pending motions in turn.

I. The Court Denies Gard's Second Motion to Amend Complaint.

Gard requests leave to amend his complaint for a second time, this time to add a paragraph alleging that the title of the rule under which he was disciplined failed to provide fair notice of prohibited conduct. Docket 31. A motion for leave to amend is committed to the sound discretion of the district court. Bell v. Allstate Life Ins. Co., 160 F.3d 452, 454 (8th Cir. 1998) (citations omitted). "A party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within... 21 days after serving it." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(A). "In all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Although Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) dictates that "[t]he court should freely give leave when justice so requires, " the court may deny such requests for "undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, [or] futility of the amendment." Farnan v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962).

Here, Gard has already received an opportunity to amend his complaint. See Docket 18. The Court is therefore not bound by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to grant Gard's second motion to amend complaint. Gard requests leave to add a paragraph to his complaint which would allege that Defendants failed to provide fair notice of prohibited conduct by failing to provide a more descriptive title to the rule under which Gard was disciplined. Docket 31. As Defendants have demonstrated, however, the rule under which Gard was disciplined does incorporate a sufficiently descriptive title. Docket 41. Gard was disciplined for disruptive conduct after prison officials discovered his involvement in smuggling contraband into the prison. Docket 30-2. In the disciplinary report related to this rule violation, Defendant Tjeerdsma listed "Conduct which disrupts..." to describe the prohibited act, and then referenced Rule 5-17. Id.

Although Gard represents that the title of the relevant rule is limited to "conduct which disrupts, " Defendants assert that the full title of Rule 5-17 actually reads as follows: "Conduct which disrupts or interferes with the security or good order of the institution or interfering with a staff member in the performance of his/her duties." Docket 41 at 2. Regardless, even assuming that the title of the rule violation is as limited as Gard claims, the Court finds that "conduct which disrupts" is sufficiently descriptive to put inmates on notice that, if an inmate attempts to smuggle contraband into the prison, the inmate will be subject to discipline for "conduct which disrupts." The Court therefore denies Gard's request for leave to amend his complaint because Gard's proposed amendment would be futile.

II. The Court Denies Gard's Motion for Preliminary Injunction.

Gard requests "a temporary and permanent injunction ordering the South Dakota Department of Corrections to stop using all catagories [sic] of this illegal write-up, and remove it from the policy manual." Docket 31. The Court construes this motion as a request for preliminary injunction. "A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy." Roudachevski v. All-American Care Centers, Inc., 648 F.3d 701, 705 (8th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted); see also Hughbanks v. Dooley, 788 F.Supp.2d 988, 992 (D.S.D. 2011) ("[I]n the prison setting, a request for a preliminary injunction must always be viewed with great caution because judicial restraint is especially called for in dealing with the complex and intractable problems of prison administration.'") (quoting Goff v. Harper, 60 F.3d 518, 520 (8th Cir. 1995)). "The burden of proving that a preliminary injunction should be issued rests entirely with the movant." Goff, 60 F.3d at 520. To determine whether the issuance of a preliminary injunction is appropriate, the court considers the following factors:

(1) the threat of irreparable harm to the movant;
(2) the state of balance between this harm and the injury that granting the injunction will inflict on other parties litigant;
(3) the probability that movant will succeed on the merits; and
(4) the public interest.

Dataphase Sys., Inc. v. C L Sys., Inc., 640 F.2d 109, 114 (8th Cir. 1981). The court asks "whether the balance of equities so favors the movant that justice requires the court to intervene to preserve the status quo until the merits are determined." Id at 113.

Although no single factor is determinative, "[f]ailure to show irreparable harm is an independently sufficient ground upon which to deny a preliminary injunction." Watkins Inc. v. Lewis, 346 F.3d 841, 844 (8th Cir. 2003); see also Dataphase, 640 F.2d at 114 n.9 ("[T]he absence of a finding of irreparable injury is alone sufficient ground for vacating the preliminary injunction."). To demonstrate irreparable harm, a plaintiff must show that the harm is "certain, great and of such imminence that there is a clear and present need for equitable relief." Packard Elevator v. Interstate Commerce Comm'n, 782 F.2d 112, 115 (8th Cir. 1986). Notably, a "plaintiff must make a showing of actual, ...

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