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Brown v. Crowe

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Wichita Falls Division

April 25, 2018

TOBY W. BROWN, SO 84068, Plaintiff,
v.
KATHRYN CROWE, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          UHAL R. RAY, JR., NITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court are Plaintiff Toby W. Brown's Motion Seeking Emergency Relief (ECF No. 56), filed February 23, 2018, which the Court construes as a Motion for Injunctive Relief; Plaintiff's Answers to the Court's Questionnaire (ECF No. 64), filed March 15, 2018; and Defendants' Response to Plaintiff's Motion Seeking Emergency Relief (ECF No. 74), filed March 29, 2018. After considering the pleadings and the applicable law, the undersigned RECOMMENDS that Chief United States District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn DENY Plaintiff's Motion Seeking Emergency Relief.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is an inmate confined in the Wichita County Jail in Wichita Falls, Texas. ECF No. 1 at 1. He filed his original complaint against Defendants for violation of his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on July 6, 2017. The Defendants are Southwest Correctional Medical Group (“SCMG”), an entity that manages the provision of healthcare at the Wichita County Jail, and several nurses employed or formerly employed by SCMG (the “Nurse Defendants”).

         On February 23, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Motion Seeking Emergency Relief (the “Motion”), along with an amended complaint. In his Motion, Plaintiff requested injunctive relief to require the Wichita County Sheriff's Department to send him for a surgical evaluation with a neurologist, “to take him out of constant pain, ” and to stop cruel and unusual punishment. ECF No. 58 at 3. Plaintiff states that he was seen by physician Jessica L. Schultz (“Dr. Schulz”) at the Neurology Center of Wichita Falls on August 1, 2017. Id. at 1; ECF No. 37 at 2. She found that he had a history of lumbar spine surgery secondary to fracture with recent reinjuries, constant low back pain, and hip pain. ECF No. 58 at 1; ECF No. 37 at 2. Her recommended treatment was to “[c]onsider surgical evaluation.” ECF No. 58 at 2; ECF No. 37 at 3.

         On March 8, 2018, the Court sent a questionnaire to Plaintiff for clarification and additional information concerning his Motion. ECF No. 60. In his verified Answers to the Court's Questionnaire (the “Answers”), Plaintiff additionally averred that he has not been able to walk for two years and has received no treatment since he was seen by Dr. Schulz. ECF No. 64.

         Defendants filed their Response to the Motion on March 29, 2018. ECF No. 74. Defendants contend that Plaintiff has not carried his burden to prove entitlement to injunctive relief. Id. at 3- 6. Defendants attached to their Response the affidavit of Greg Belz (“Belz”), a registered nurse employed by SCMG, who summarized Plaintiff's medical treatment while under Defendants' care. Id., Exhibit A.

         LEGAL STANDARDS

         To obtain a preliminary injunction under Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the movant must show: (1) a substantial likelihood of success on the merits; (2) a substantial threat of irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted; (3) that the threatened injury outweighs any harm that the injunction might cause to the defendant; and (4) that the injunction will not disserve the public interest. Opulent Life Church v. City of Holly Springs, Miss., 697 F.3d 279, 288 (5th Cir. 2012). The party seeking injunctive relief must clearly establish all of the four elements in order to obtain relief. Guy Carpenter & Co., Inc. v. Provenzale, 334 F.3d 459, 464 (5th Cir. 2003). Injunctive relief is an extraordinary remedy that requires the applicant to unequivocally show the need for its issuance. Valley v. Rapides Par. Sch. Bd., 118 F.3d 1047, 1050 (5th Cir. 1997).

         A pro se plaintiff's pleadings are liberally construed. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). A “pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Id. In particular, indigent prisoners are often hampered in their access to sources of proof. See Murrell v. Bennett, 615 F.2d 306, 310 (5th Cir. 1980) (reversing a grant of summary judgment).

         ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff has not met his burden of establishing the requirements for a preliminary injunction. In particular, he has not shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, a substantial threat of irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted, or that the injunction will not disserve the public interest.

         I. Plaintiff has not shown that he is likely to succeed on the merits at this time, because he has not proven that Defendants ignored his complaints or refused to give him recommended treatment.

         In order to satisfy the first requirement for a preliminary injunction, Plaintiff must show a substantial likelihood that he can prove that Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his medical needs. Kennedy v. Potter, 344 Fed.Appx. 987, 989 (5th Cir. 2009). Deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain, which is proscribed by the Eighth Amendment because its prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment embodies “broad and idealistic concepts of dignity, civilized standards, humanity, and decency.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976) (quoting Jackson v. Bishop, 404 F.2d 571, 579 (8th Cir. 1968)). Deliberate indifference to medical needs only amounts to an Eighth Amendment violation if the prisoner's needs are serious. Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 9 (1992) (citing Estelle, 429 U.S. at ...


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