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Artis v. Jin

United States District Court, Third Circuit

November 5, 2013

IVES T. ARTIS, Plaintiff,
v.
BYUNGHAK JIN, Medical Director (indiviaul Compasity); CORIZON HEALTH, Formerly Prison Healthcare Services (Official Compasity), Defendants.

MEMORANDUM ORDER

MAUREEN P. KELLY, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Ives T. Artis has filed this pro se civil rights action seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief, arising out of Defendants' treatment of an ankle injury while he has been incarcerated at the Pennsylvania State Corrections Institute at Greene ("SCI - Greene"). Plaintiff has been granted his request to proceed in forma pauperis and has filed a series of motions for consideration by the Court prior to the initiation of service of the Complaint. Pending before the Court are Plaintiff's "Motion to Order Prison to Provide Free Copies of Medical Records" [ECF No. 2], "Motion for Injunction" [ECF No. 6], and "Request for Appointment of Counsel" [ECF No. 7]. For the reasons more fully set forth below, each of Plaintiff's motions are denied.

I. Facts

Plaintiff's Complaint [ECF No. 1-1] alleges that Defendants' three year course of medical treatment for an ankle injury constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Plaintiff's medical treatment included physical therapy, a six-month course of Vicodin, allegedly dangerously high dosages of acetaminophen, at least six sets of x-rays leading to an MRI and, eventually, surgery to treat mild swelling, small fracture fragments and apparent ligament tears with resulting mild edema and arthritic changes to Plaintiff's ankle. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Jin stopped prescribed treatment of ankle braces and pain medication while Plaintiff was placed in the Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU"), leading to difficulty walking and additional injuries in conjunction with the provision of a defective walker.[1] Plaintiff alleges that his prescribed footwear was returned upon his return to general housing, but that the failure to provide the footwear while in the RHU caused injury to his healthy ankle. In addition, Dr. Jin allegedly refused to see Plaintiff for follow-up care and treatment and otherwise allowed him to suffer in pain.

II. Discussion

1. Motion to Order Free Copies of Medical Records

Plaintiff's Motion to Order Prison to Provide Free Copies of Medical Records [ECF No. 2] is denied because Plaintiff has failed to establish that he has followed appropriate prison procedures to inspect the requested documents and to copy any documents by paying the appropriate photocopying charge. See Victor v. Varano, No. 11-891, 2012 WL 1514845 (M.D. Pa. May 1, 2012) (finding that requiring an inmate to submit an Inmate Request to Staff to the Superintendent's Assistant "is a fitting and proper procedure for [an inmate] to follow in securing access to these medical records"); Daniels v. Kelchner, No. 05-1601 , 2007 WL 2068631 (M.D.Pa. July 17, 2007). (Kane, J.) (denying the plaintiff's motion to compel discovery because he had not executed a DC-108 medical release form in accordance with prison policy regarding production of an inmate's medical records).

Plaintiff contends that his indigent status entitles him to free copies of his records; however, the United States Supreme Court has noted that the "expenditure of public funds [on behalf of an indigent litigant] is proper only when authorized by Congress." United States v. McCollom , 436 U.S. 317, 321 (1976). The in forma pauperis statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915, provides that a federal court may authorize the commencement and prosecution of a lawsuit "without prepayment of fees or security therefor, by a person who submits an affidavit that includes a statement of all assets such prisoner possesses that the person is unable to pay such fees or give security therefor." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). While the statute does not define what constitutes "fees" within the meaning of its provisions, in Tabron v. Grace , 6 F.3d 147 (3d Cir.1993), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that "[t]here is no provision in [28 U.S.C. § 1915] for the payment by the government of the costs of deposition transcripts, or any other litigation expenses, and no other statute authorizes courts to commit federal monies for payment of the necessary expenses in a suit brought by an indigent litigant." Id . at 159 (emphasis added); citing In re Richard , 914 F.2d 1526, 1527 (6th Cir.1990) (Section 1915 "does not give the litigant a right to have documents copied and returned to him at government expense.").

Here, although Plaintiff has established his entitlement to proceed in forma pauperis, there is no statutory authority permitting the Court to direct that his discovery expenses be paid on his behalf. Payo v. Rustin, No. 08-1147, 2010 WL 1254926 (W.D. Pa. Mar. 25, 2010). Further, the Court finds that even if its equitable powers grant it the ability to grant some form of relief in this case, Plaintiff has not made any showing that he is unable to obtain those copies beyond his bare assertion that he lacks funds to pay the required fee. Id . Accordingly, Plaintiff's Motion to Order Prison to Provide Free Copies of Medical Records [ECF No. 2] is hereby denied.

2. Motion for Injunction.

Plaintiff has also filed an apparent motion for an "Injunction" [ECF No. 6], which seeks a temporary transfer to another facility because Plaintiff is "in danger because the lack of [medical] treatment that is being received." [ECF No. 6, p. 2]. Plaintiff broadly alleges that (1) he is not being provided prescribed medication, sick call visits and follow-up appointments with a specialist; (2) that medical records are being removed and/or falsified; (3) that he is not being permitted copies of his records; and (4) is being charged erroneous fees to his prisoner account.

As most recently examined in Goodwin v. Glunt, No.13-C0148, 2013 WL 5202088 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 16, 2013), inmate pro se pleadings which seek extraordinary, or emergency relief, in the form of preliminary injunctions are governed by Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and are judged against exacting legal standards. As the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has explained:

Four factors govern a district court's decision whether to issue a preliminary injunction: (1) whether the movant has shown a reasonable probability of success on the merits; (2) whether the movant will be irreparably injured by denial of the relief, (3) whether granting preliminary relief will result in even greater harm to the nonmoving party; and (4) whether granting the preliminary relief will be in the public interest.

Gerardi v. Pelullo , 16 F.3d 1363 (3d Cir.1994) (quoting SI Handling Systems, Inc. v. Heisley , 753 F.2d 1244, 1254 (3d Cir. 1985)).

A preliminary injunction is not granted as a matter of right. Kerschner v. Mazurkewicz , 670 F.2d 440, 443 (3d Cir. 1982). It is an extraordinary remedy. Given the extraordinary nature of this form of relief, a motion for preliminary injunction places precise burdens on the moving party. As a threshold matter, "it is a movant's burden to show that the preliminary injunction must be the only way of protecting the plaintiff from harm.'" Emile v. SCI-Pittsburgh, No. 94-974 , 2006 WL 2773261 at *6 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 24, 2006) ...


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