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Doe v. University of Southern Mississippi

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Eastern Division

August 28, 2018

JOHN DOE PLAINTIFF
v.
THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI, et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KEITH STARRETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This cause is before the Court on the Plaintiff John Doe's Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Injunctive Relief [5].[1] Defendants have not responded in writing, but a brief hearing on the emergency motion was heard on August 24, 2108. Having reviewed the motion and heard arguments from counsel, and otherwise being duly advised in the premises, for the reasons set forth below, the motion will be denied without prejudice to the preliminary injunctive relief sought, for which a hearing will be held on September 10, 2018.

         I. Background

         According to the documents filed in support of this emergency motion, by letter dated August 10, 2018, the University's Title IX Office advised Plaintiff that, following an investigation that occurred in July 2018, the University's investigative panel had determined that Plaintiff violated the University's Sexual Misconduct Policy, that disciplinary sanctions would be issued, and that Plaintiff would be informed of the sanctions no later than August 24, 2018. [10 at Ex. C and D]. In a letter dated August 21, 2018, the Vice President of Student Affairs notified Plaintiff that a sanction of a one-year suspension was being imposed. [10 at Ex. E]. On August 23, 2018, Plaintiff filed this emergency motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(b)(1), requesting a temporary restraining order (“TRO”)/temporary injunction and seeking the following relief:

(1) enjoining the Defendants from violating John Doe's constitutional rights and rights established under Title IX;
(2) enjoining them from continuing the discriminatory, arbitrary, capricious and unlawful disciplinary action that was issued against him;
(3) requiring the University to immediately restore the Plaintiff as a student in good standing at the University;
(4) allowing the Plaintiff to enroll and attend courses with the University of Southern Mississippi at the beginning of next term;
(5) allowing Plaintiff to have unrestricted on-campus access to his classes and non-residential University buildings; and
(6) prohibiting further disciplinary proceedings and retaliatory conduct against the Plaintiff pending resolution of the matter.

         II. Discussion

         “The purpose of a preliminary injunction is to preserve the status quo and thus prevent irreparable harm until the respective rights of the parties can be ascertained during a trial on the merits.” Exhibitors Poster Exchange, Inc. v. Nat'l Screen Svc. Corp., 441 F.2d 560, 561 (5th Cir. 1971). It has long been the law that to be entitled to injunctive relief, a party must show “(1) a substantial likelihood that plaintiff will prevail on the merits, (2) a substantial threat that irreparable injury will result if the injunction is not granted, (3) that the threatened injury outweighs the threatened harm to defendant, and (4) that granting the preliminary injunction will not disserve the public interest.” Miss. Power & Light Co. v. United Gas Pipe Line Co., 760 F.2d 618, 621 (5th Cir. 1985) (citing Canal Authority of State of Fla. v. Callaway, 489 F.2d 567 (5th Cir. 1974)). A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy and should not be granted unless the party prevails on all four elements. Planned Parenthood Ass'n of Hidalgo Cty. Tex,, Inc. v. Suehs, 692 F.3d 343, 348 (5th Cir. 2012).

         In this case, Plaintiff is seeking not only prohibitory injunctive relief, but also, more importantly, mandatory injunctive relief, which requires the University to take action. See Meghrig v. KFC W., Inc. 516 U.S. 479, 484 (1996) (explaining that a prohibitory injunction “restrains” a party from acting whereas a mandatory injunction requires a party to “take action”). Mandatory injunctions are “particularly disfavored.” Pham v. Univ. of La. at Monroe, 194 F.Supp.3d 534, 543 (W.D. La. 2016)(quoting Roark v. Individuals of Fed. Bur. of Prisons, Former and Current, 558 Fed.Appx. 471 (5th Cir. 2014)). Only in rare instances is the issuance of this type of injunction proper, and a mandatory injunction at the early stages of the proceedings simply “should not be issued unless the facts and law clearly favor of the moving party.” Id.; Harris v. Wilters, 596 F.2d 678, 680 (5th Cir. 1979) (citing Exhibitors, 441 F.2d at 561); Miami Beach Fed. Sav. & Loan v. Callander, 256 F.2d 410, 415 (5th Cir. 1958). Whether or not an injunction shall issue is within the sound discretion of the trial court. Exhibitors, 441 F.2d at 561.

         The Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to carry his burden of showing entitlement to the extraordinary remedy of mandatory injunctive relief by way of a TRO. Considering the brief arguments by counsel at the hearing on August 24, 2018, the Court is not convinced that the facts and law clearly favor Plaintiff at this juncture. That is not to say Plaintiff will not be able carry his burden at the full hearing on entitlement to a preliminary injunction, but for now, putting that observation aside, Plaintiff has not shown that such ...


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