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Rodrigues v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

November 3, 2017

Anthony L. Rodrigues, Plaintiff,
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Anthony L. Rodrigues, who is currently confined in the Red Rock Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona, has filed a pro se civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order.[1] (Doc. 58.)

         I. Background.

         In his six-Count First Amended Complaint (FAC), Plaintiff named as Defendants Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) Director Charles Ryan; ADC Contract Bed Bureau Director Tara R. Diaz; Management Training Corporation (MTC), which operated the Arizona State Prison (ASP)-Kingman when Plaintiff was housed there in July 2015; former ASP-Kingman Warden Pamela Rider; former ASP-Kingman Deputy Warden Hector Santiago; former ASP-Kingman Associate Deputy Warden Shahana Frederick; and former ASP-Kingman Chief of Security James Winkler. (Doc. 20 at 2-3.)

         Plaintiff's claims arise from a riot that took place at the ASP-Kingman facility in early July 2015. (Id. at 8.) Plaintiff alleges generally that Defendants, through a lack of training, oversight and staffing, and in order to save costs, allowed the prison to devolve to the point where a riot broke out. Plaintiff was injured when prison personnel responded to the riot, even though Plaintiff did not participate in the riot. (Id. at 8-15.) After the riot, Plaintiff was transferred to the Red Rock Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona.[2] (Id. at 17.)

         On screening of Plaintiff's FAC pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the Court determined that Plaintiff stated an Eighth Amendment threat-to-safety claim in Count Two and ordered Defendants Ryan, Rider, Santiago, Diaz, Winkler, and Frederick to answer that claim. (Doc. 27 (adopting Doc. 22, Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation).) The Court also determined that Plaintiff stated a negligence claim under Arizona law in Count Three and ordered Defendants MTC, Washington, Rider, Santiago, Diaz, Winkler, and Frederick to answer that claim and for MTC to answer the negligent training claim in Count Three. (Id.) The Court dismissed the remaining claims. (Id.)

         II. Plaintiff's Request for Injunctive Relief.

         Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief to prevent Ryan and “Defendants' Agent, Employee, Appointee or Representative from eng[]aging in any conduct, directly or indirectly, intended to harass, threaten, intimidate, discourage or obstruct any person, party or witness from providing the Plaintiff material support in the form of witness statements, declarations and written affidavits.” (Doc. 58 at 1-2.) Plaintiff alleges that there is a “longstanding, unwritten” policy within the ADC to retaliate against persons in ADC custody “to discourage[e] individuals from supporting or pursuing valid legal claims against [ADC] employees, agents, private prison contractors and representatives[, ] which is having a chilling effect on Plaintiff's ability to obtain and secure written statements, declarations and affidavits from present and former AD[]C inmates incarcerated at ASP[]-Kingman during the relevant time per period . . . .” (Id. at 2.)

         In a Memorandum of Points and Authorities, Plaintiff elaborates that “Defendants' obstructionism continues to manifest itself . . . as Plaintiff seeks to develop a reasonable discovery strategy which includes the Plaintiff's ability to view records, documents and tangible things on compact disk . . . .” (Doc. 59 at 2-3.) Plaintiff claims that Defendants are “obstructing” his ability to access federal case law and to communicate with “similarly situated persons” to support his claims. (Id. at 3.) He claims that without the Court's intervention, Defendants' “pattern of obstructionism . . . will likely continue to have a chilling effect on Plaintiff's constitutionally protected right to the most basic and fundamental principles of due process and equal protection of the law.” (Id.) He asserts that “Defendants individually, collectively and by and through their [illegible] continue to demonstrate a pattern of retaliatory conduct in a[n] effort to discourage or obstruct the Plaintiff or similarly situated individuals from pursuing claims against ADOC or its private prison contractor [MTC] dating back to July 2015.” (Id. at 4.)

         Defendants respond that Plaintiff's Motion should be denied because the relief Plaintiff seeks is unrelated to the claims in this lawsuit, Plaintiff has not established that any of the Defendants retaliated against him or impeded his access to the courts, and because Plaintiff cannot establish irreparable harm in the absence of the requested injunction. (Doc. 63 at 1.)

         III. Legal Standard

         Because Defendants received notice of Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order, the Court will treat it as a Motion for a Preliminary Injunction. See 11A Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2951 (3d ed. April 2017 update) (“[w]hen the opposing party actually receives notice of the application for a restraining order, the procedure that is followed does not differ functionally from that on an application for a preliminary injunction and the proceeding is not subject to any special requirements”); Stuhlbarg Int'l Sales Co., Inc. v. John D. Brush and Co., Inc., 240 F.3d 832, 839 n.7 (9th Cir. 2001) (the standard for a temporary restraining order is “substantially identical” to the standard for a preliminary injunction).

         “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) (“[a] preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy never awarded as of right”). A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must show that (1) he is likely to succeed on the merits, (2) he is likely to suffer irreparable harm without an injunction, (3) the balance of equities tips in his favor, and (4) an injunction is in the public interest. Winter, 555 U.S. at 20. “But if a plaintiff can only show that there are ‘serious questions going to the merits'-a lesser showing than likelihood of success on the merits-then a preliminary injunction may still issue if the ‘balance of hardships tips sharply in the plaintiff's favor, ' and the other two Winter factors are satisfied.” Shell Offshore, Inc. v. Greenpeace, Inc., 709 F.3d 1281, 1291 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Cottrell, 632 F.3d 1127, 1135 (9th Cir. 2011)). Under this serious questions variant of the Winter test, “[t]he elements . . . must be balanced, so that a stronger showing of one element may offset a weaker showing of another.” Lopez, 680 F.3d at 1072.

         Regardless of which standard applies, the movant “has the burden of proof on each element of the test.” See Envtl. Council of Sacramento v. Slater,184 F.Supp.2d 1016, 1027 (E.D. Cal. 2000). Further, there is a heightened burden where a plaintiff seeks a mandatory preliminary injunction, which should not be granted “unless the facts and law clearly favor the ...

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