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Gregory Hammond v. Sci Albion/Doc; P.A. Daniel Telega; Nurse Marc Gruczo

November 7, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Maureen P. Kelly

ECF No. 26


Plaintiff, Gregory Hammond, is an inmate in the custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC"), and is currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution ("SCI") at Albion. Plaintiff has brought this civil rights suit against SCI Albion/DOC, Nurse Marc Gruczo, Nurse Bobbie Monroe, Maxine Overton, Medical Administrator, Malinda Adams, Superintendent's Assistant/Grievance Coordinator ("the DOC Defendants"), and P.A. Daniel Telega ("Telega"), alleging that Defendants violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution by failing to provide him with adequate medical care after he slipped in the shower on November 21, 2011, and severely injured himself. ECF No. 6.

On September 14, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Injunction ("the Motion") in which he asks the Court to: 1) compel the Medical Department at SCI Albion to arrange for him to have a complete exam by a neurologist or an orthopedist; 2) require the Medical Department to turn over his medical records in their entirety; and 3) prevent the Medical Department from taking his wheelchair away from him. ECF No. 26. Defendant Telega and the DOC Defendants filed responses to Plaintiff's Motion on October 17, 2012 and October 26, 2012, respectively. ECF Nos. 27, 28. Accordingly, the Motion is now ripe for review. For the reasons that follow, the Motion will be denied.


A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy that "should not be lightly indulged in, but used sparingly and only in a clear and plain case." Emile v. SCI-Pittsburgh, 2006 WL 2773261, at *6 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 24, 2006), quoting Plain Dealer Publ'g Co. v. Cleveland Typographical Union #53, 520 F.2d 1220, 1230 (6th Cir. 1975). See AT&T v. Winback and Conserve Prog. Inc., 42 F.3d 1421, 1426-27 (3d Cir. 1994). "[G]reat caution" and "judicial restraint" are particularly called for in the prison context where "complex and intractable problems of prison administration" are implicated. Goff v. Harper, 60 F.3d 518, 520 (8th Cir. 1995). See Bailey v. Gagnon, 2009 WL 982694, at *1 (W.D. Pa. April 9, 2009).

In determining whether a preliminary injunction is warranted, the District Court is to consider "(1) whether the movant has a reasonable probability of success on the merits; (2) whether irreparable harm would result if the relief sought is not granted; (3) whether the relief would result in greater harm to the non-moving party, and (4) whether the relief is in the public interest." Monroe v. Bryan, 2012 WL 2478375, at *1 (3d Cir. June 29, 2012), quoting Swartzwelder v. McNeilly, 297 F.3d 228, 234 (3d Cir. 2002). See Abu-Jamal v. Price, 154 F.3d 128, 133 (3d Cir. 1998) (for an inmate to sustain his burden of proof that he is entitled to a preliminary injunction, he must demonstrate both a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits and that he will be irreparably harmed if the requested relief in not granted). "[I]t is the movant's burden to show that the 'preliminary injunction must be the only way of protecting the plaintiff from harm.'" Emile v. SCI-Pittsburgh, 2006 WL 2773261, at *6, quoting Campbell Soup Co. v. ConAgra, Inc., 977 F.2d 86, 91 (3d Cir. 1992). Indeed, because "[t]he purpose of a preliminary injunction is to preserve the status quo, not to decide the issues on their merits[,] Anderson v. Davila, 125 F.3d 148, 156 (3d Cir. 1997), irreparable harm is established by showing that the plaintiff will suffer injury that "cannot be redressed by a legal or an equitable remedy following trial." Messner v. Bunner, 2009 WL 1406986, at *4 (W.D. Pa. May 19, 2009), quoting Instant Air Freight Co. v. C.F. Air Freight, Inc., 882 F.2d 797, 801 (3d Cir. 1989). See Acierno v. New Castle Cnty., 40 F.3d 645, 653 (3d Cir. 1994) ("[t]he word irreparable connotes 'that which cannot be repaired, retrieved, put down again, atoned for . . .'") (citations omitted).


A. Likelihood of Success on the Merits

The Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") requires a prisoner filing a Section 1983 action to exhaust all administrative remedies before filing a claim in federal court. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). See Spruill v. Gillis, 372 F.3d 218, 228 (3d Cir. 2004). In order to properly exhaust his or her administrative remedies, a plaintiff must be in "compliance with an agency's deadlines and other critical procedural rules . . . ." Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 90--91 (2006). In this case, the DOC's Grievance System Policy, DC--ADM 804, which sets out a three-step grievance and appeals process, applies. Spruill v. Gillis, 372 F.3d at 233.

The DOC Defendants and Defendant Telega filed Motions to Dismiss on May 16, 2012 and May 21, 2012, respectively, arguing, amongst other things, that Plaintiff's claims are properly dismissed because Plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as is required under the PLRA. ECF Nos. 14, 18. Although Plaintiff has responded to Defendants' Motions, both of which are still pending, he has not addressed the exhaustion issue. To the extent that Plaintiff's silence can be interpreted as conceding the issue, it does not appear that he is likely to succeed on the merits of his claims.

Nevertheless, in order to establish an Eighth Amendment violation, Plaintiff must demonstrate: (1) that he has a serious medical need; and (2) that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to that need. Rouse v. Plantier, 182 F.3d 192, 197 (3d Cir. 1999). See Spruill v. Gillis, 372 F.3d at 235. Establishing deliberate indifference requires Plaintiff to "make an 'objective' showing that the deprivation was 'sufficiently serious,' or that the result of defendant's denial was sufficiently serious. Additionally, a plaintiff must make a 'subjective' showing that defendant acted with a 'sufficiently culpable state of mind.'" Montgomery v. Pinchak, 294 F.3d 492, 499 (3d Cir. 2002), citing Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991).

Deliberate indifference will be found "where [a] prison official: (1) knows of a prisoner's need for medical treatment but intentionally refuses to provide it; (2) delays necessary medical treatment based on a non-medical reason; or (3) prevents a prisoner from receiving needed or recommended medical treatment." Rouse v. Plantier, 182 F.3d at 197. Inconsistencies or differences in medical diagnoses, short delays unaccompanied by arbitrary or unduly burdensome bureaucratic procedures, and the refusal to summon the medical specialist of the inmate's choice, perform tests or procedures that the inmate desires, or to explain to the inmate the reason for medical action or inaction, however, does not amount to cruel and unusual punishment. Maqbool v. Univ. Hosp. of Med. & Dentistry of New Jersey, 2012 WL 2374689 at * 9 (D.N.J. June 13, 2012). Nor do allegations of negligence or medical malpractice. See Spruill v. Gillis, 372 F.3d at 235 (neither claims of medical malpractice nor disagreements regarding the proper medical treatment are actionable); Rouse v. Plantier, 182 F.3d at 197, quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. at 105 (allegations of negligence and medical malpractice are not sufficient to establish a Constitutional violation as the "inadvertent failure to provide adequate medical care cannot be said to constitute 'an unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain' . . ."). As such, allegations that the inmate was provided with medical care, but the care was "inadequate" fails to state a cognizable claim. See Taylor v. Visinsky, 422 F. App'x 76, 78 (3d Cir. 2011).

Here, it is evident from Plaintiff's Complaint, as well as the instant Motion, that he has been receiving medical care for the injuries he sustained after he slipped in the shower on November 21, 2011. According to the Complaint, Plaintiff attempted to reach someone in the Medical Department on the morning of November 22, 2011 -- the day after he fell -- but was unable to do so because the entire facility had been placed on lockdown for an exercise drill. ECF No. 6, p. 3. Nevertheless, at 1:00 p.m. contact was made with Defendant Nurse Bobbie Monroe who informed Plaintiff that the Medical Department would not pick him up and requested that he walk to the Medical Department for his "mandatory morning meds." Id. Plaintiff contends, however, that he was unable to get up from his bed and that it was not until 2:30 p.m. that he was given access to a wheelchair which he used to get to the "medline" and, from there, to the Medical Department. ECF No. 6, pp. 3-4. Plaintiff alleges that the Medical Department refused to give him "emergency treatment," and was told to sign up for "sick line." Id. at p. 4. Although it is unclear from the Complaint whether or not Plaintiff signed up for "sick line," arrangements for a wheelchair were again made on November 23, 2011, so that Plaintiff could get to the "medline." Id. at pp. 4-5. This time, Plaintiff was subsequently wheeled ...

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