United States District Court, D. Minnesota
ROBERT L. STABNOW, Plaintiff,
TONY LOUREY, NANCY JOHNSTON, JANNINE HEBERT, JAMES BERG, DAVID BORNUS, KEVIN MOSER, TERRY KNEISEL, PETER PUFFER, NANCY STACKEN, JORDAN GOODMAN, KRIS HUSO, LAURIE SEVERSON, RYAN FAHLAND, JANA BRISTER-KORBY, DEBBIE THAO, CHARLES FAI, TINA OLSEN, DAVID AVRIL, ROSS PETERSON, DR. AMY FARMER, ALLISON IMMEL, RANDY GORDON, TAYAH ZUK, MINNESOTA SEX OFFENDER PROGRAM, and THE STATE OF MINNESOTA, Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BOWBEER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Robert L. Stabnow, a civil detainee at the Minnesota Sex
Offender Program (“MSOP”), filed this civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against MSOP,
the State of Minnesota, and numerous employees of MSOP.
Stabnow primarily alleges that MSOP is violating his religion
by forcing him to participate in treatment programs that
offend him, and that when he refuses to participate, they
take actions designed to coerce him back into participation.
Of note, he alleges that he was placed in a special
behavioral unit for refusing treatment, and while in the unit
he was assaulted by another detainee. Stabnow believes that
he would not have been assaulted and would not have been in
the behavioral unit if staff were not trying to coerce him
back into treatment programming. He claims that MSOP staff
have failed to protect him, have violated his right to adhere
to his religion, have failed to train each another or to
correct each other's wrongs, and are enforcing Minnesota
statutes that are legally defective or discriminatory.
matter is before the Court on Stabnow's motion for a
temporary restraining order. [Doc. No. 6.] The matter has
been referred to the undersigned for a report and
recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and
D. Minn. LR 72.1(c). Stabnow seeks to enjoin MSOP from
placing him back in the unit where he claims he was
assaulted, instead of placing him in a different unit they
allegedly promised him. In support of his motion, he filed a
memorandum of law [Doc. No. 8], a supporting affidavit [Doc.
No. 9], and two exhibits [Doc. No. 10].
may grant injunctive relief through a preliminary injunction
or a temporary restraining order (“TRO”).
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(a), (b). TROs are appropriate
where the moving party shows reason why the opposing party
should not be provided advance notice. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 65(b)(1). When a defendant has received notice and
had an opportunity to respond to a motion for a TRO, the
motion will be construed as one for a preliminary injunction.
See Carlson v. City of Duluth, 958 F.Supp.2d 1040,
1052 n.1 (D. Minn. 2013) (construing motion for TRO as a
motion for preliminary injunction where defendant responded
to the motion). Here, there is no indication on the record
that Stabnow has given notice of the motion to Defendants,
nor has Stabnow shown why Defendants should not be provided
advance notice. As a result, this Court may not issue a TRO
or a preliminary injunction at this time and recommends that
the motion be denied without prejudice.
alternative, the Court recommends that the motion be denied
without prejudice on the merits. A court must consider four
factors in deciding whether to grant a TRO or preliminary
injunction: “(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. CL Sys., Inc., 640 F.2d 109,
114 (8th Cir. 1981) (en banc). “The threshold inquiry
is whether the movant has shown the threat of irreparable
injury.” Gelco Corp. v. Coniston Partners, 811
F.2d 414, 418 (8th Cir. 1987). “Once a court determines
that the movant has failed to show irreparable harm absent an
injunction, the inquiry is finished and the denial of the
injunctive request is warranted.” Id. at 420.
The party seeking a TRO bears the burden of establishing his
entitlement to the relief under the Dataphase
factors. See Watkins Inc. v. Lewis, 346 F.3d 841,
844 (8th Cir. 2003). Stabnow has failed to meet his burden in
the Court cannot discern at this early phase of the
litigation whether Stabnow is likely to succeed on any of his
claims. His 56-page complaint attacks many aspects of his
confinement at MSOP, some of which may have redress and
others which may not.
and more importantly, Stabnow has not identified any
irreparable harm that he will suffer if he is transferred to
the 1E living unit at MSOP. He alleges that he was previously
in the unit and was assaulted because he got into a dispute
with another client, but he does not allege that the other
client still resides in the unit, nor does he allege he has
reason to fear future assaults absent a new dispute. There is
no basis on which to conclude that the transfer would place
him in immediate physical danger or prevent him from
litigating this case.
granting the injunction will interfere with Defendants'
ability to administer the MSOP. As Stabnow acknowledges, the
Eighth Circuit has warned that “in the prison context,
a request for injunctive relief 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.'” Goff v.
Harper, 60 F.3d 518, 520 (8th Cir. 1995) (quoting
Rogers v. Scurr, 676 F.2d 1211, 1214 (8th Cir. 1982)).
This is also true for the administration of a facility that
houses civilly committed sex offenders. See Senty-Haugen
v. Goodno, 462 F.3d 876, 887 (8th Cir. 2006); Aune
v. Ludeman, No. 09-cv-15 (JNE/SRN), 2009 WL 1586739, at
*2, 5 (D. Minn. June 3, 2009). It appears that Stabnow does
not want to participate in certain aspects of treatment
programming at MSOP, and MSOP officials have been tasked with
housing him in alternative conditions. They might encourage
Stabnow to participate in treatment so that he can access all
services and the accompanying benefits, but they are not
putting him at risk of immediate physical harm by doing so.
MSOP officials are entitled to make judgment calls about
where to place and care for the clients housed in their
facility. Granting the injunctive relief sought by Stabnow
would interfere with the informed judgment of MSOP officials
“as to what would . . . best serve institutional
security or the safety and welfare of the [detainee].”
See Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 225 (1976).
the Court cannot identify any way in which the public
interest would be served by enjoining Defendants from moving
Stabnow to a different housing unit at MSOP.
these reasons, the Court recommends that Stabnow's motion
for a TRO or preliminary injunctive be denied without
prejudice. As the case continues, it is possible that Stabnow
may wish and have grounds to bring another motion for
injunctive relief. At this juncture, however, he has not met
the requirements for the extraordinary remedy of emergency
IT IS HEREBY RECOMMENDED THAT Plaintiff
Robert Stabnow's Motion for Emergency Temporary
Restraining Order ...