United States District Court, D. Arizona
MICHAEL T. LIBURDI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Melinda Gabriella Valenzuela, who is confined at the Arizona
State Prison Complex (ASPC)-Florence Kasson Unit, brought
this pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against former Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC)
Director Charles Ryan. (Doc. 10.) Before the Court is
Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction. (Doc. 53.)
The Court will deny Plaintiff's Motion. The Court will
also order that ADC Director David Shinn be substituted as a
Defendant in his official capacity for purposes of
Plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief.
Complaint, Plaintiff alleged that beginning in February 2018,
Defendant Ryan failed to provide her with safe housing. (Doc.
10 at 4.) According to Plaintiff, she has been the subject of
constant abuse and assaults due to her transgender status.
(Id.) Plaintiff claimed that Defendant Ryan was
personally aware of her issues because inmate letters were
sent to him directly; yet, he did nothing. (Id.)
Plaintiff sued for injunctive relief and monetary damages.
(Id. at 6.) The Court determined that
Plaintiff's allegations sufficiently stated a plausible
Eighth Amendment failure-to-protect claim, and Defendant Ryan
was directed to answer this claim. (Doc. 18 at 6.)
August 16, 2019, Plaintiff filed the pending Motion for
Preliminary Injunction. (Doc. 53.) Plaintiff asserts that she
was recently moved to Kasson Unit, and, upon her arrival at
this Unit, she informed multiple staff members-ADC and
medical personnel whom she lists by name-that certain
prisoners threatened her and plan to harm her. (Id.
at 1.) Plaintiff states that she provided the names of these
prisoners to staff. (Id.) According to Plaintiff, no
staff members took any action in response, and they have left
her housed in the pod. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that
since June 3, 2019, she has been sexually assaulted,
assaulted, and threatened daily by other prisoners.
(Id. at 1-2.) Plaintiff asserts that she will
continue to suffer and be subject to irreparable harm due to
her transgender status as long as she is housed in the Kasson
Unit. (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff explains that she is
currently attempting to get ADC staff to “sign her out
of PS [protective segregation], ” and send her to the
Integrated Housing Program or a sexual offender yard.
her Motion, Plaintiff submits over 200 documents, including
medical records and inmate letters, many of which are from
2018. (Id., Exs.) The inmate letters report threats,
PREA incidents, and staff misconduct; request transfers,
medical care, and to see the transgender committee; and
complain about certain prison programs. (Id.) With
respect to the inmate letters filed since her recent transfer
to the Kasson Unit, Plaintiff's complaints include that
PS prisoners are with general population prisoners in the
same programs and that every day she comes into contact with
general population prisoners, STG (security threat group)
prisoners, and prisoners who are debriefing. (Id.,
Exs. G, K (Doc. 53 at 19, 32).)
response, Defendant Ryan argues that the Motion should be
denied because Plaintiff agreed to dismiss this case in a
Settlement Agreement that was entered in another action and
that the parties are working on the logistics of dismissing
the cases listed in that Agreement. (Doc. 54, citing to CV
filed a Reply, in which she stated that the Settlement
Agreement was not accepted, that not all parties have signed
the Agreement, and that the defendants in the other action
have not complied with terms of the Agreement. (Doc. 56.)
Attached to the Reply is a copy of an August 7, 2019 letter
Plaintiff wrote to defense counsel informing him that if he
sends an email to the Deputy Warden confirming that Plaintiff
is to be provided certain items, Plaintiff will sign the
Agreement in CV 18-00555. (Id., Attach. (Doc. 56 at
date, there has been no stipulation for dismissal filed by
the parties in this action.
Preliminary Injunction Standard
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) (“[a] preliminary injunction is
an extraordinary remedy never awarded as of right”)
(citation omitted). 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” version of the sliding-scale
test, the elements of the preliminary injunction test are
balanced, so that a stronger showing of one element may
offset a weaker showing of another. See Alliance for the
Wild Rockies, 632 F.3d at 1135.
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). 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.
I.N.S., 795 F.2d 1434, 1441 (9th Cir. 1986) (citation
Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) 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).