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ISELEY v. DRAGOVICH

December 10, 2002

CHARLES ISELEY, SR., ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
V.
MARTIN DRAGOVICH, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Eduardo C. Robreno, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Charles Iseley, Sr. ("plaintiff") is an inmate at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Green. Plaintiff suffers from Hepatitis C, a common viral infection of the liver which can cause liver cancer. Plaintiff asserts that for over four years he has repeatedly requested from prison officials to be treated for Hepatitis C, but has yet to receive such treatment.

In response to plaintiff's request, the Department of Corrections ("DOC") directed that he submit to a psychological evaluation and sign a Mental Health Informed Consent Document ("consent form")*fn1 before his requested treatment could proceed. As part of plaintiff's psychological evaluation, plaintiff is required to complete a Beck Depression Inventory ("BDI questionnaire"), which consists of a series of questions designed to help evaluate whether plaintiff suffers from depression, and to sign a consent form authorizing the release of certain medical and personal information.

The DOC asserts that plaintiff's treatment cannot proceed without plaintiff first undergoing the psychological evaluation. This is so, according to the DOC, because medicinal treatment for Hepatitis C can cause severe psychological side effects, and the likelihood that plaintiff will experience these side effects must be assessed before treatment can be administered. The DOC contends that, without a psychological evaluation, the proper course of treatment cannot be ascertained. Moreover, defendants*fn2 refuse to treat plaintiff without first obtaining a signed consent form. According to defendants, the consent form authorizes the DOC to release plaintiff's medical and personal information in order to protect other inmates and staff, and to insure the orderly operation of the prison facility.

Plaintiff, on the other hand, refuses to submit to the psychological evaluation as a condition for receiving treatment for Hepatitis C and also refuses to sign the consent form.

Plaintiff brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that defendants have acted with deliberate indifference towards his serious medical needs. Before this court is plaintiff's pro se request for a preliminary injunction. The parties have made extensive and highly detailed written submissions (see doc. nos. 96, 97, 102, 103, 104 for plaintiff and doc. No. 100 and non-commonwealth defendants' response to plaintiff's motion, which has yet to be docketed, for defendants) and the court heard argument. For the reasons that follow, plaintiff's request for injunctive relief will be denied.

II. DISCUSSION

The Third Circuit recently restated the factors a court must consider and the burden a party must meet in order to obtain injunctive relief:

[t]o obtain an injunction, the plaintiff[] [has] to demonstrate (1) that [he is] reasonably likely to prevail eventually in the litigation and (2) that [he is] likely to suffer irreparable injury without relief.
If these two threshold showings are made[,] the District Court then considers, to the extent relevant, (3) whether an injunction would harm the [defendant] more than denying relief would harm the plaintiff[] and (4) whether granting relief would serve the public interest.

Tenafly Eruv Assoc., Inc. v. Borough of Tenafly, 309 F.3d 144, 2002 WL 31388923 at *6 (3d Cir. October 24, 2002) (citing S. Camden Citizens in Action v. N.J. Dep't of Envtl. Protection, 274 F.3d 771, 777 (3d Cir. 2001) and Adams v. Freedom Forge Corp., 204 F.3d 475, 484 (3d Cir. 2000)) (internal citations omitted). In other words, the movant must establish a likelihood of success on the merits and a likelihood that he will suffer irreparable injury if the requested relief is not granted before the court can even consider public interest and the balance of hardships. See id.

For the purpose of deciding the instant motion, the court will assume that plaintiff can show that he will suffer irreparable harm if he is not treated for Hepatitis C. More problematic, however, is the likelihood that plaintiff will ultimately succeed on the merits of the instant litigation.

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivation of medical treatment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, a plaintiff must show that the defendant acted with "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). The defendants acknowledge that medical treatment for Hepatitis C constitutes a serious medical need under Estelle. They ...


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