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Mason v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

April 19, 2018

Nathan Sterling Mason, Plaintiff,
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Defendants.


          David G. Campbell, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Nathan Sterling Mason, who is confined in the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis, Buckley Unit, brought this pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) Director Charles L. Ryan; Correctional Officer (CO) Joshua Baese; Corizon, LLC; and Nurse Practitioner Andreas Thude. (Doc. 46.) Before the Court are Plaintiff's Emergency Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Doc. 129), which relates to documents seized from his legal property, and Plaintiff's Amended Motion to Strike (Doc. 152). The Court will deny both Motions, but order Defendants to allow Plaintiff access to the seized documents for review.

         I. Background

         In his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleged numerous Eighth Amendment claims, including that Ryan adopted a policy that resulted in repeated denials of Plaintiff's protective custody requests and led to his transfers to different yards, which in turn repeatedly placed Plaintiff at risk of harm. (Doc. 46.) Plaintiff further alleged that he was subjected to a threat to his safety, was attacked by other inmates, and was denied adequate medical care for injuries he suffered in the attack. (Id.)

         On March 15, 2018, Plaintiff filed his Emergency Motion for Preliminary Injunction, in which he states that in mid-February 2018, he produced copies of documentary evidence to defense counsel as part of discovery and, shortly thereafter, he was subjected to a targeted cell search and ADC officers seized his legal boxes. (Doc. 129 at 2-3.) When officers returned Plaintiff's legal boxes, 18 legal documents had been removed. (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff submits that these legal documents were evidence to be used against Defendants in this action. (Id.) Plaintiff seeks an order directing Ryan to return Plaintiff's legal documents. (Id. at 7.)

         In response, Ryan confirms Plaintiff's allegations. Ryan states that on February 9, 2018, CO Wade, as a courtesy to defense counsel, scanned 66 pages of documents provided by Plaintiff as part of discovery, and Wade emailed the documents to defense counsel. (Doc. 142 at 4.) On March 12, 2018, CO Taylor searched Plaintiff's cell and seized two boxes. (Id. at 4.) Prison officials seized 18 documents from the boxes-three of these documents are photographs of Plaintiff, and some of the other documents include unredacted pages from Plaintiff's protective custody file (PC file). (Id. at 5-6.) Security Operations Administrator Ronald Lee avers that inmates are not allowed to possess these items because photographs can be used to make duplicate identification cards, and PC file documents may pose a threat to the inmate or others if other inmates gain access to the documents. (Id., Ex. B, Lee Decl. ¶¶ 4-5.) The 18 documents identified as unauthorized paperwork were delivered to Lee, who has custody and control of them. (Doc. 142 at 4.)

         Ryan opposes Plaintiff's Emergency Motion on the grounds that (1) the Court lacks authority to issue a preliminary injunction because Plaintiff's request for injunctive relief is unrelated to his underlying threat-to-safety claim and (2) Plaintiff has not been denied access to the courts. (Id. at 9-13.)

         Plaintiff moved to strike some of the statements within the declarations Ryan submitted in support of his opposition to Plaintiff's Emergency Motion. (Doc. 152.)

         II. Amended Motion to Strike Perjury Statements

         Plaintiff moves to strike Wade's declaration statement that he was required to issue a disciplinary ticket to Plaintiff following a telephone call with defense counsel on the ground that there is no policy that supported issuance of a ticket. (Id. at 2-3.) Plaintiff moves to strike Lee's declaration statement regarding the source of certain documents on the ground that it is hearsay. (Id. at 3-4.)

         Wade's declaration statement is irrelevant to the pending request for injunctive relief and is not considered by the Court. Lee's declaration statement is hearsay, but it is also irrelevant and is not considered by the Court. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Motion to Strike these statements will be denied as unnecessary.

         III. Emergency Motion for Preliminary Injunction

         A. Relief Sought Relates to Access to the Court

         “A preliminary injunction is ‘an extraordinary and drastic remedy, one that should not be granted unless the movant, by a clear showing, carries the burden of persuasion.'” Lopez v. Brewer, 680 F.3d 1068, 1072 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972 (1997) (per curiam)); see also Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008) (citation omitted). Generally, “[w]hen a plaintiff seeks injunctive relief based on claims not pled in the complaint, the court does not have the authority to issue an injunction.” Pac. Radiation Oncology, LLC v. Queen's Med. Ctr., 810 F.3d 631, 636 (9th Cir. 2015); see De Beers Consol. Mines v. United States, 325 U.S. 212, 220 (1945). An exception to this rule arises where the injunctive relief sought is related to court access. See Prince v. Schriro, et al., CV 08-1299-PHX-SRB, 2009 WL 1456648, at *4 (D. Ariz. May 22, 2009) (where the relief sought relates to a prisoner's access to the court, “a nexus between the preliminary relief and the ultimate relief sought is not required” and the court need not consider the merits of the underlying complaint) (citing Diamontine ...

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