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Brown v. Miller

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

April 19, 2017

SCOTT A. BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
JASEN MILLER, Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON District Judge

         Pro se plaintiff Scott Brown, a state prisoner incarcerated at the Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI), is proceeding on an Eighth Amendment claim against defendant Jasen Miller, a correctional officer at CCI. Brown alleges that Miller failed to restrain him despite Brown's warnings that he would harm himself by cutting his arm.

         This opinion and order addresses three motions Brown has before the court. The main issue is his motion for a preliminary injunction. Dkt. 18. The court will also address Brown's request that Miller to “back up” any declarations with documentary evidence, Dkt. 32, and Brown's request for a hearing concerning problems with his mail, Dkt. 39. I will deny all three motions.

         A. Preliminary injunction motion

          Brown moved for a preliminary injunction on March 1, 2017. He asks for an order that requires prison staff to:

(1) place Brown on observation status when he cuts himself;
(2) place him in a restraint chair while on observation status;
(3) place him in a “5 point bed restraints” if he continues to harm himself while on observation status;
(4) “stop mitigating the severity of [his] injuries to justify their wrong doing of deliberate indifference to [Brown's] acts of self-harm.”

Dkt. 18. Brown's motion was not properly supported by admissible evidence, but because he alleged that he was in imminent danger, I ordered Miller to respond to it and I held a telephonic hearing on March 10 to determine whether Brown was in danger. Dkt. 20 and Dkt. 26. After the hearing, Miller submitted supplemental material concerning the “behavior management plan” designed to protect Brown from self-harm. Brown also submitted additional materials. Based on the parties' submissions and the information I received at the hearing, I will deny Brown's motion for preliminary injunction because I conclude that Miller and the medical staff at CCI have taken adequate measures to protect Brown.

         A preliminary injunction is “an extraordinary and drastic remedy” that should be granted only when the movant carries the burden of persuasion by a “clear showing.” Boucher v. School Bd. of Greenfield, 134 F.3d 821, 823 (7th Cir.1998) (citations omitted). When the movant seeks a mandatory injunction, “an injunction requiring an affirmative act by the defendant, ” the motion must be “cautiously viewed” and granted only “sparingly.” Graham v. Med. Mut. of Ohio, 130 F.3d 293, 295 (7th Cir. 1997).

         To obtain a preliminary injunction, the movant must show that (1) he will suffer irreparable harm before the final resolution of his claim without a preliminary injunction; (2) traditional legal remedies are inadequate; and (3) his claim has some likelihood of success on the merits. BBL, Inc. v. City of Angola, 809 F.3d 317, 323-24 (7th Cir. 2015). Once the movant makes this showing, the court “weighs the factors against one another, assessing whether the balance of harms favors the moving party or whether the harm to other parties or the public is sufficiently weighty that the injunction should be denied.” Id. (citing ACLU of Ill. v. Alvarez, 679 F.3d 583, 589 (7th Cir. 2012)).

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act limits the scope of preliminary injunctive relief in cases challenging prison conditions. Under the PLRA, the injunctive relief to remedy prison conditions must be “narrowly drawn, extend no further than necessary to correct the harm the court finds requires preliminary relief, and be the least intrusive means necessary to correct that harm.” 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(2); see also Westefer v. Neal, 682 F.3d 679, 681 (7th Cir. 2012). The PLRA also requires the court to “give substantial weight to any adverse impact on public safety or the operation of a criminal justice system caused by the preliminary relief.” 18 U.S.C. § 3626.

         Here, Brown fails to show that he will suffer irreparable harm without a preliminary injunction. Brown initially claimed that he faced a “serious risk” to his safety because the prison officials would not take “reasonable steps” to ensure his safety despite his extensive history of self-harm. Dkt. 18, at 2. In response to Brown's motion, Miller submitted declarations from the security director, the supervisor of the Psychological Services Unit, and a manager of the Health Services Unit at CCI. Dkt. 23; Dkt. 24; Dkt. ...


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