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Carpenter v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

February 12, 2019

Edward Lamar Carpenter, Plaintiff,
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Defendants.


          David G. Campbell, Senior United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Edward Lamar Carpenter, who is currently confined in the Arizona State Prison Complex (ASPC)-Lewis, filed a pro se civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Before the Court is Plaintiff's Amended Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order (Doc. 18).

         The Court previously denied the Motion to the extent Plaintiff sought a Temporary Restraining Order and to the extent he sought preliminary injunctive relief as to his hernia and skin cancer, and ordered Defendants Corizon Health, Inc. (“Corizon”) and Dentist Dr. Russell to file a response to the remaining part of the Motion in which Plaintiff seeks relief for his dental issues. (Doc. 44.) Defendants have since filed a Response in opposition to the Amended Motion (Doc. 49), and Plaintiff has not filed a reply, and the time to do so has passed. The Court will deny the Amended Motion for Preliminary Injunction, but will require Defendants to file a Notice regarding their compliance with Dr. Russell's treatment plan.

         I. Legal Standard

         “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 plaintiff.” Comm. of Cent. Am. Refugees v. INS, 795 F.2d 1434, 1441 (9th Cir. 1986) (citation omitted).

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act imposes additional requirements on prisoner litigants who seek preliminary injunctive relief against prison officials and requires that any injunctive relief be narrowly drawn and the least intrusive means necessary to correct the harm. 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(2); see Gilmore v. People of the State of Cal., 220 F.3d 987, 999 (9th Cir. 2000).

         II. Amended Motion for Injunctive Relief (Dental Care)

         In his Amended Motion, Plaintiff seeks a Court order directing Defendants to send him to a periodontist because Dental has refused to clean his teeth for three years. (Doc. 18 at 3-4.) In his Second Amended Complaint, he alleges that prison dental staff have refused to clean his teeth since 2015, and, as a result, his teeth have started to loosen and fall out, causing him to lose 4 teeth; Defendant Dr. Russell saw Plaintiff in June 2018 and also refused to clean his teeth, and instead insisted on pulling more teeth; Dr. Russell confirmed that Plaintiff's teeth needed deep cleaning but did not provide this; and the prison only allows Plaintiff a 2-inch toothbrush, with which Plaintiff is unable to maintain proper dental hygiene without periodic cleanings. (Id. at 13.)

         Plaintiff argues that (1) he is suffering irreparable harm absent injunctive relief, (2) his suffering outweighs Defendants' interests in saving money, (3) he has made viable claims for relief, and (4) it is in the public interest for prisoners, including Plaintiff, to receive adequate medical care. (Doc. 18 at 2-3.) He further argues that his request for relief extends no further than is needed to address his injuries.

         III. Discussion

         Defendants argue that Plaintiff cannot show a likelihood of success on the merits of his underlying claim or a likelihood of irreparable harm because he has already received appropriate dental care, and a periodontal visit is not medically indicated. (Doc. 44 at 6-8.)

         A. Plaintiff's Dental Records

         Defendants produce evidence that Plaintiff saw Dr. Favela on July 31, 2015 in response to a Health Needs Request (HNR) for a routine teeth cleaning, and Dr. Favela took x-rays, hand-scaled Plaintiff's teeth to remove plaque, calculus, and stains, and diagnosed Plaintiff as having “advanced periodontitis” and other dental issues-including missing, loose, or dangling teeth-for which she advised him to submit an HNR requesting a dental exam. (Doc. 49-1 at 2-3.) Thereafter, on August 3, 2015, Plaintiff refused his follow-up appointment and signed a “Refusal to Submit to Treatment” form, in which ...

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