United States District Court, Central District of Illinois
March 21, 1997
HOWARD D. HAMLYN, ON HIS OWN BEHALF AND ON BEHALF OF ALL THOSE SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
ROCK ISLAND COUNTY METROPOLITAN MASS TRANSIT DISTRICT, AND LOREN A. DUSSLIERE, CECIL L. HICKMAN, ROBERT E. JENSEN, LAURENCE W. LORENSEN, AND JOHN R. HUNT, IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: McDADE, District Judge.
Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion For Preliminary
Injunction [Doc. # 3]. For the following reasons, the motion is
tentatively denied without the need for an evidentiary hearing.
On February 20, 1997, Plaintiff Howard D. Hamlyn ("Hamlyn")
filed a Complaint on his own behalf and on behalf of all those
similarly situated alleging that Defendants had violated the ADA,
the Rehabilitation Act, and the Equal Protection Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment by excluding persons with AIDS from its
Metro Link Reduced Fare Program. This program entitles eligible
recipients to pay a reduced fare on Metro Link buses. The
application form explicitly states: "WHO DOES NOT QUALIFY: 
Applicants whose sole disability is  AIDS." Once again, on the
physician statement portion of the form, it states, "Applicants
do not qualify if their sole disability is  AIDS."
Accompanying the Complaint is a motion for preliminary
injunction. Attached to this motion is Hamlyn's affidavit in
which he states in relevant part:
2. I have AIDS.
4. My AIDS disability causes me to have limited
6. I desire to participate in Metro Link's Reduced
Fare Program in order to participate more fully in
social, family, and community activities.
16. I suffered and continue to suffer emotional
distress as a result of my exclusion from the
Reduced Fare Program.
17. I have been prevented and continue to be
prevented from participating in
social and recreational activities as a result of
my exclusion from the Reduced Fare Program.
In order to obtain a preliminary injunction, the movant must
show: (1) that the case has some likelihood of success on the
merits; (2) that no adequate remedy at law exists; and (3) that
the movant will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not
granted. Storck USA, L.P. v. Farley Candy Co., 14 F.3d 311,
313-14 (7th Cir. 1994). Only if these three conditions are met
must the Court proceed to balance the harm to the movant if the
injunction is not issued against the harm to the defendant if it
is issued improvidently. Id. at 314. In addition, the court
must consider the public interest in its decision. Id.
As presently reflected by the record before the Court,
Plaintiff has failed to establish that he has no adequate remedy
at law or that he will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction
is not granted. The rule is clear: monetary loss does not
constitute an irreparable injury because a successful plaintiff
can be adequately compensated at the conclusion of the
litigation. Classic Components Supply, Inc. v. Mitsubishi Elec.
Am., Inc., 841 F.2d 163, 164-65 (7th Cir. 1988); Chicago
Typographical Union, No. 16 v. Chicago Newspaper Publishers'
Assoc., 620 F.2d 602, 604 (7th Cir. 1980).
There are four possible exceptions to this rule: (1) the
plaintiff is so poor that he would be harmed in the interim by
the loss of the monetary benefits; (2) the plaintiff would be
unable to finance his lawsuit without the money he wishes to
recover; (3) the damages would be unobtainable from the defendant
because it will be insolvent prior to the final judgment; and (4)
the nature of the plaintiff's loss may make damages very
difficult to calculate. Roland Machinery Co. v. Dresser Indus.,
Inc., 749 F.2d 380, 386 (7th Cir. 1994); Moore v. Miller,
579 F. Supp. 1188, 1191 (N.D.Ill. 1983).
On the present record, the Court fails to see how any of these
exceptions apply here. There is no indication that Defendants
will be insolvent, that Plaintiff wishes to use the money to
finance his lawsuit, or that Plaintiff's monetary losses would be
any more difficult to calculate later rather than now. As to the
exception for claims of poverty, Plaintiff states in his
affidavit that his AIDS disability has caused him "to have
limited financial means" and continues to prevent him "from
participating in social and recreational activities as a result
of [his] exclusion from the Reduced Fare Program."
However, such statements are vague. Plaintiff does not
expressly state that he is so poor that being deprived of a
reduced fare bus pass actually prevents him from using the bus as
much as he otherwise would use it. To show this, Plaintiff would
have to submit proof of the following:
(1) The number of times per week or month that he
would use the bus if he had received a reduced fare
(2) The amount of money saved on each bus trip by use
of such a pass;
(3) Plaintiff's income and worth (i.e. savings,
checking) for the relevant period of time; and
(4) Plaintiff's expenses for the relevant period of
Only if these items conclusively show that Plaintiff is so poor
that he would be denied equal access to the Metro Link bus line
would irreparable harm be shown here.*fn1
Plaintiff attempts to avoid making this showing by asserting
that the violation of his constitutional rights is alone
sufficient to prove irreparable harm and the inadequacy of a
remedy at law. This statement is overbroad in that it must be
tempered by the general rule that monetary injury is not a
sufficient basis for injunctive relief. See Back v. Carter,
933 F. Supp. 738, 754 (N.D.Ind. 1996) ("When violations of
constitutional rights are alleged, further showing of irreparable
injury may not be required if what is at stake is not monetary
(emphasis added); Milwaukee County Pavers Ass'n v. Fiedler,
707 F. Supp. 1016, 1031-32 (W.D.Wis. 1989) ("Where violations of
constitutional rights are alleged, further showing of irreparable
injury may not be required if more than money is at stake")
(emphasis added); Kennedy-Kartheiser v. Board of Educ. of City
of Chicago, 1987 WL 17164, at *1 (N.D.Ill. Sept. 11, 1987); see
also Hohe v. Casey, 868 F.2d 69, 73 (3d Cir. 1989)
("Constitutional harm is not necessarily synonymous with the
irreparable harm necessary for issuance of a preliminary
The case law is replete with examples of courts finding no
irreparable harm despite the allegation of a constitutional
violation where the only remedy would be monetary in nature. For
instance, in a procedural due process action, there is no harm
where the injury is ultimately redressable through monetary
compensation. See Sampson v. Murray, 415 U.S. 61, 89-92, 94
S.Ct. 937, 952-54, 39 L.Ed.2d 166 (1974); Wisconsin Central Ltd.
v. Public Service Commission, 95 F.3d 1359, 1369-70 (7th Cir.
1996); Cunningham v. Adams, 808 F.2d 815, 822 (11th Cir. 1987);
Roberts v. Van Buren Public Sch., 731 F.2d 523, 526 (8th Cir.
1984); Ciechon v. City of Chicago, 634 F.2d 1055, 1057 (7th
Cir. 1980); Kennedy-Kartheiser, 1987 WL 17164, at *1.*fn3
Likewise, the Seventh Circuit has held that no irreparable harm
existed in a First Amendment retaliation action where the only
injury would be the plaintiff's expense of defending against the
suit. Smart v. Board of Trustees of Univ. of Illinois,
34 F.3d 432, 435 (7th Cir. 1994).
In contrast, those cases which have held that a constitutional
wrong constitutes an irreparable injury involve some continuing
or future injury which cannot be compensated by monetary damages
alone. Examples include a First Amendment claim that one's speech
is presently being chilled, Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347, 373,
96 S.Ct. 2673, 2689-90, 49 L.Ed.2d 547 (1976); National People's
Action v. Village of Wilmette, 914 F.2d 1008, 1013 (7th Cir.
1990); Schnell v. City of Chicago, 407 F.2d 1084, 1086 (7th
Cir. 1969), a Due Process or Eighth Amendment allegation
concerning a continued threat to a prisoner's health or safety,
Preston v. Thompson, 589 F.2d 300, 302-03 & n. 3 (7th Cir.
1978); Jolly v. Coughlin, 894 F. Supp. 734, 740 (S.D.N.Y. 1995),
aff'd, 76 F.3d 468, 482 (2d Cir. 1996); Young v. Ballis,
762 F. Supp. 823, 827 (S.D.Ind. 1990), the loss of fundamental rights
which must be exercised within a certain period of time, such as
the right to vote or to have an abortion, Deerfield Med. Ctr. v.
City of Deerfield Beach, 661 F.2d 328, 338 (5th Cir. 1981); Doe
v. Mundy, 514 F.2d 1179, 1183 (7th Cir. 1975); Auerbach v.
Kinley, 499 F. Supp. 1329, 1340-41 (N.D.N.Y. 1980), a claim that
one will be subjected to an unlawful search and seizure under the
Fourth Amendment, Zepeda v. INS, 753 F.2d 719, 727 (9th Cir.
1983); Bannister v. Board of County Comm'n of Leavenworth
County, Kansas, 829 F. Supp. 1249, 1252 (D.Kan. 1993), and an
unconstitutional taking of property (on the basis that property
is always "unique"). United Church of the Medical Ctr. v.
Medical Center Comm'n, 689 F.2d 693, 701 (7th Cir. 1982).*fn4
More pertinent to the instant case, a number of courts have
held that equal protection claims under the Fourteenth Amendment
create irreparable injury. However, those cases either involve
some harm greater than mere monetary loss or involve a situation
in which the amount of the loss cannot easily be ascertained.
Thus, in Henry v. Greenville Airport Comm'n, 284 F.2d 631, 632
(4th Cir. 1960), the court ordered a preliminary injunction where
African-American passengers were being required to stay in a
waiting room than other passengers. Unlike in the instant case,
the plaintiffs in Henry could not simply pay a slightly
increased fare to have equal access; they were barred from the
other waiting room regardless of their financial statute.
In Adams v. Baker, 919 F. Supp. 1496, 1504-05 (D.Kan. 1996),
the plaintiff was denied equal access to compete on the school
wrestling squad. The court found that her missed opportunities to
"compete, practice and learn the sport of wrestling  would
cause her to fall behind in her development as an athlete and
would quite probably, as a practical matter, prevent her from
being able to compete in the future." Id. No such developmental
concern is at issue in the instant case.
In Back, the plaintiff was removed from a voluntary nonpaid
position; thus, it would have been difficult to assign a monetary
value to his injury. 933 F. Supp. at 754. Similarly, in Harrison
and Burrowes Bridge Constr., Inc. v. Cuomo, 743 F. Supp. 977,
996-97 (N.D.N.Y. 1990), monetary compensation would most likely
not have been available because of the defendants' claims of
Lastly, in Milwaukee County Pavers Ass'n, the court initially
noted that plaintiff's equal protection claim warranted a finding
of irreparable harm "irrespective of the financial impact." 707
F. Supp. at 1032. However, this holding was premised on the fact
that the plaintiffs had not requested any monetary relief in
their complaint. Id. The court ultimately found that monetary
relief might be available in the suit and rested its finding of
irreparable harm on the fact that monetary damages would be
difficult to calculate if a preliminary injunction did not issue.
Id. at 1032-33. Thus, under either of the court's alternative
holdings, monetary damages were presumed not to be readily
available at the end of the litigation.
In contrast to these last three cases, Hamlyn has failed to
make a threshold showing that the denial of his preliminary
injunction motion will cause him to suffer some injury other than
a readily quantifiable monetary loss. If he can make such a good
faith threshold showing within fourteen (14) days, the Court will
consider holding an evidentiary hearing on the matter. Even if he
cannot do so, however, the Court sees little need for discovery
in this case and believes that the legal issues can be resolved
fairly quickly at the summary judgment stage.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion For Preliminary
Injunction [Doc. # 3] is DENIED at this time.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff is given leave to file
supplementary materials within fourteen (14) days of the date of
service of this Order in order to show that monetary damages
awarded at the end of this litigation would not fully compensate
him for his alleged injuries.