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Solomon v. Michigan Department of Corrections

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

September 16, 2019




         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's “motion/declaration for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction and to appoint attorney.” ECF No. 3.

         Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at the Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center where he is serving a life sentence. His complaint alleges that he is wheel-chair bound and suffers from a number of serious health problems, including diabetes. He seeks the Court's immediate intervention in the form of a temporary restraining order or “TRO” because he alleges that correctional staff are denying him sufficient access to water, delaying the delivery and proper insertion of catheters, denying access to diabetic medications, and repeatedly providing him with food to which he has a known allergy. Id. Plaintiff alleges that the “terminat[ion of] his diabetic medication” has resulted in “blurred vision” and “numbness” to his upper body. Id. at PageID.167. Plaintiff asks the Court to order prison officials to accommodate and respond immediately to these medical needs pending the litigation of his underlying complaint. ECF No. 1. Defendants have not yet been served with the underlying complaint, so they have not responded to Plaintiff's motion. See ECF Nos. 1, 3. In addition to filing his motion, Plaintiff has filed numerous supplemental declarations with the Court alleging that his access to water is still restricted and that correctional staff are delaying catheterization for periods of up to 24 hours. See ECF Nos. 4, 7-17. These subsequent declarations also raise new allegations that are not necessarily of an emergent nature, but also renew the more serious complaints that suggest an imminent possibility of harm.

         The Court has carefully reviewed both Plaintiff's initial TRO motion and the 10 Declarations Plaintiff has filed with the Court between August 8, 2019 and September 11, 2019. These allegations by Plaintiff are serious, ongoing, and relate to conditions that, if true, suggest “immediate and irreparable” harm to Plaintiff. Specifically, to summarize the number of incidents set out in Plaintiff's declarations by counting the days that he claims certain deprivations have been occurring, he recounts the following: at least 9 days of catheter-related problems, at least 5 days of food allergy-reaction problems, at least 10 days without sufficient water, at least 4 days-possibly an entire month-when diabetic medication was not provided, and at least 2 days when he was denied food. See generally ECF Nos. 3, 7-17.

         I. Legal Standard

         A federal court has discretion to issue a temporary restraining order pursuant to Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A person seeking such an order bears the burden of establishing that “immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result” in the absence of such an order. Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(b)(1). In determining whether to grant or deny such relief, federal courts balance the following factors:

1. Whether the party seeking the injunction has shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits;
2. Whether the party seeking the injunction will suffer irreparable harm absent the injunction;
3. Whether an injunction will cause others to suffer substantial harm; and
4. Whether the public interest would be served by the preliminary injunction.

Wilson v. Gordon, 822 F.3d 934, 952 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing City of Pontiac Retired Empl. Ass'n. Schimmel, 751 F.3d 427, 430 (6th Cir. 2014) (en banc)).

         II. Discussion

         Plaintiff alleges that he is not receiving water, necessary diabetic medication or catheterization in a safe and timely manner, and that he is being given foods to which he is allergic. ECF No.3. Plaintiff contends that these actions by Defendant effectively deprive him of life's necessities in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Since filing his original motion for a temporary restraining order, Plaintiff has filed multiple supplemental filings and declarations alleging that the conditions are imminent and ongoing; particularly that Plaintiff is not receiving water and cannot access the sink in his room to retrieve water on his own. ECF No. 10, PageID.238. These subsequent filings also allege that Plaintiff has been instructed to “self-catheterize” but has not been given adequate catheterization materials for over a 24-hour period. ECF No. 15, PageID.394. More recently, Plaintiff has complained that his catheter bag contains blood, and that his urine is “coffee colored.” Id.; ECF No. 14, PageID.306.

         The Eighth Amendment prohibits conduct by prison officials that involves the “unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.” Ivey v. Wilson, 832 F.2d 950, 954 (6th Cir. 1987) (per curiam) (quoting Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 346 (1981)). The deprivation alleged must result in the denial of the “minimal civilized measure of life's necessities.” Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 347. The Eighth Amendment is only concerned with “deprivations of essential food, medical care, or sanitation” or “other conditions intolerable for prison confinement.” Id. at 348. For a prisoner to prevail on such a claim, he must show that he faced a sufficiently serious risk to his health or safety and ...

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