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Pinson v. Estrada

United States District Court, D. Arizona

March 19, 2019

Jeremy Pinson, Plaintiff,
v.
Unknown Estrada, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          ROSEMARY MARQUEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Jeremy Pinson's Emergency Motion for Preliminary Injunction. (Doc. 5.) Defendants filed a Response. (Doc. 13.) Plaintiff filed an untimely Reply and a Motion to Supplement Reply. (Docs. 18, 22.) For the following reasons, Plaintiff's request for preliminary injunctive relief will be denied.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff filed this action on November 2, 2018. (Doc. 1.) She alleges two claims arising from the discontinuation of her medications. (Id. at 3-4.) She alleges that her medication is being denied in retaliation for one or more of her many lawsuits against prison staff.[1] (Id. at 3, 7-8.) She also alleges that the denial of her medications has caused and will cause myriad symptoms, including suicidal feelings, anxiety, and pain. (Id. at 3.)

         On December 6, 2018, Plaintiff filed an Emergency Motion for Preliminary Injunction. (Doc. 5.) She seeks injunctive relief requiring prison medical staff to restore her medications (specifically, her Gabapentin, Clonazepam, and hormone therapy medications), arguing that the denial of such relief will cause “unnecessary pain and suffering and potential loss of life.” (Id. at 1.) On January 14, 2019, the Court ordered that Defendants United States, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the United States Public Health Service file a response to Plaintiff's request for injunctive relief. (Doc. 7.) Defendants filed their Response on February 15, 2019. (Doc. 13.) Plaintiff filed her Reply on March 1, 2019, and her Motion to Supplement Reply on March 8, 2019. (Docs. 18, 22.)

         II. Standard of Review

          “A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy never awarded as of right.” Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008) (citation omitted). There are four requirements for a preliminary injunction: (1) the plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) the plaintiff is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) the balance of equities tips in the plaintiff's favor; and (4) an injunction is in the public interest. Id. at 20. The relief sought by Plaintiff requires affirmative conduct by Defendants. “Such ‘mandatory preliminary relief' is subject to heightened scrutiny and should not be issued unless the facts and law clearly favor the moving party.” Dahl v. HEM Pharm. Corp., 7 F.3d 1399, 1403 (9th Cir. 1993) (citing Anderson v. United States, 612 F.2d 1112, 1114 (9th Cir. 1980)).

         The Ninth Circuit follows a “sliding scale” approach to preliminary injunctions. All. for the Wild Rockies v. Cottrell, 632 F.3d 1127, 1131 (9th Cir. 2011). Under this approach, a weaker showing as to the likelihood of success on the merits may be offset by a stronger showing with respect to the balance of the equities. Id. at 1131-32. If the moving party is unable to establish a likelihood of success on the merits, a preliminary injunction may still be granted if (1) there are serious questions going to the merits, i.e., substantial, difficult, and doubtful questions on which the plaintiff has a fair chance of success; (2) the balance of hardships tips “sharply” in the plaintiff's favor; and (3) the other Winter requirements, i.e., irreparable harm and in the public interest, are met. Id. at 1135.

         The Prison Reform Litigation Act creates additional requirements for injunctive relief against prison officials. 18 U.S.C. § 3636(a)(2). “Preliminary injunctive relief must be narrowly drawn, extend no further than necessary to correct the harm . . . and be the least intrusive means necessary to correct that harm. Id.

         III. Discussion

         Plaintiff has failed to establish serious questions or a likelihood of success on the merits. Plaintiff alleges that she is being denied her medications in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Not every claim by a prisoner relating to inadequate medical treatment states a violation of the Eighth Amendment. To state a § 1983 medical claim, a plaintiff must show (1) a “serious medical need” by demonstrating that failure to treat the condition could result in further significant injury or the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain and (2) the defendant's response was deliberately indifferent. Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006).

         “Deliberate indifference is a high legal standard.” Toguchi v. Chung, 391 F.3d 1051, 1060 (9th Cir. 2004). To act with deliberate indifference, a prison official must both know of and disregard an excessive risk to inmate health; “the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994). Deliberate indifference is a higher standard than negligence or lack of ordinary due care for the prisoner's safety. Id. at 835. “Neither negligence nor gross negligence will constitute deliberate indifference.” Clement v. California Dep't of Corr., 220 F.Supp.2d 1098, 1105 (N.D. Cal. 2002); see also Broughton v. Cutter Labs., 622 F.2d 458, 460 (9th Cir. 1980) (mere claims of “indifference, ” “negligence, ” or “medical malpractice” do not support a claim under § 1983). The indifference must be substantial. The action must rise to a level of “unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105 (1976).

         Plaintiff has failed to establish that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to her medical needs. With respect to Gabapentin and Clonazepam, Defendants submit evidence directly refuting Plaintiff's allegation that her medications were taken away without medical justification.[2] On two consecutive days, Plaintiff was caught diverting her Clonazepam and Gabapentin instead of taking them as prescribed. (Doc. 15 at 70-71 (September 13, 2018 note stating that Plaintiff had been caught diverting medication by placing the crushed pills in her left cheek), 77 (September 14, 2018 note stating that Plaintiff had been caught diverting medication by placing the crushed pills ...


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