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Prisoner Who Faces No Irreparable Injury Not Entitled to Preliminary Injunction

In March 2011, the California Court of Appeal affirmed a trial court’s denial of preliminary injunctive relief to a prisoner who alleged that Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) officials were not complying with the Approved Personal Property Schedule (APPS) in the Department Operations Manual.

Prisoner Andrew Andersen alleged that beginning in 2007, SVSP officials seized items that he and other prisoners had purchased through package orders, even though the items were approved in the APPS. Sometime in 2009, the officials agreed not to dispose of the items they had seized from Andersen – but not from other prisoners – at least pending the outcome of the “Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief” he had filed against them in January of that year.

In May 2009, Andersen filed a motion for preliminary injunctive relief, which was denied by the Monterey County Superior Court.

The Court of Appeal affirmed on the ground that, insofar as the defendant prison officials had agreed not to dispose of Andersen’s property until the litigation was resolved, he could not demonstrate that he was threatened with the requisite irreparable injury. Even assuming that other prisoners might be threatened with such injury, Andersen could not assert those injuries (to parties absent from the litigation) as a basis for a preliminary injunction.

The denial of preliminary injunctive relief did not imply that Andersen might not ultimately prevail on the merits of his claim for permanent injunctive relief. See: Andersen v. Cate, California Court of Appeal, Sixth Appellate District, Case No. H034596 (review denied); 2011 WL 1134679.

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Related legal case

Andersen v. Cate