United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
OPINION AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING
Marilyn J. Horan, United States District Judge.
Daelon Hill-Johnson, an inmate at Allegheny County Jail,
filed the present Complaint on October 7, 2019, seeking
relief for various claims related to his incarceration. (ECF
Nos. 1, 18). Alongside the Complaint, Mr. Hill-Johnson also
filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma
Pauperis (IFP), a Motion for Appointment of Counsel, and
a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against
Defendants Allegheny County Bureau of Corrections (also
referred to as Allegheny County Jail, or ACJ) and Warden
Orlando Harper. (ECF Nos. 1, 21, 22). The Court granted the
IFP Motion. (ECF No. 2). The Court also granted the Motion
for Appointment of Counsel, but solely for the purposes of
the Motion for TRO and related hearing. (ECF No. 4). The
Court scheduled a hearing on the Motion for TRO for October
24, 2019. (ECF Nos. 3, 9). At the scheduled date and time for
the hearing, the relevant Defendants and their Counsel, as
well as Counsel for Mr. Hill-Johnson, appeared, but despite
the Court's issuance of a Writ of Habeas Corpus Ad
Testificandum, (ECF No. 6), Allegheny County Jail did not
produce Mr. Hill-Johnson. The hearing was then rescheduled
for November 7, 2019, and the parties agreed to combine the
TRO hearing with the hearing for preliminary injunction. (ECF
No. 17). At the hearing, the parties presented evidence in
the form of witness testimony and documents, and they argued
the merits of the Motion.
following reasons, Mr. Hill-Johnson's Motion for
Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction will
Hill-Johnson is currently incarcerated at the Allegheny
County Jail (ACJ), awaiting trial on several criminal
charges. Mr. Hill-Johnson was first arrested and incarcerated
related to these charges in February or March 2016. He
testified that he remained incarcerated at ACJ for eleven and
a half months, was released, but then was locked up again in
April 2017.Mr. Hill-Johnson has remained incarcerated
at ACJ since that time. Presently, the trial date for his
pending state charges is January 15, 2020, almost four years
after his arrest.
Hill-Johnson brings a long list of claims against the
Defendants in this matter, including claims under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, 42 U.S.C. § 1985, and the Americans with
Disabilities Act, as well as claims for selective and
vindictive prosecution, negligence, and sexual harassment.
(ECF No. 18, at 1). Of these claims, Mr. Hill-Johnson seeks
preliminary injunctive relief related to alleged violations
of his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
and the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, against Defendants
ACJ and Warden Orlando Harper. (ECF Nos. 15, 22).
Mr. Hill-Johnson contends that he has been discriminated
against because of his disabilities in violation of the ADA,
specifically that (1) spending time in the Restricted Housing
Unit (RHU) and the lack of counseling make his psychiatric
conditions worse, and (2) he has an ongoing substance abuse
problem for which he keeps getting "misconducts,"
both of which prevent him getting the counseling and
treatment he needs. He also alleges that Defendants have
acted with deliberate indifference to his mental health,
substance abuse, and medical needs, in violation of the
Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Lastly, Mr. Hill-Johnson
contends that the amount of time he has spent in restraint
chair constitutes impermissible punishment in violation of
the Fourteenth Amendment, and excessive force in violation of
the Eighth Amendment. Accordingly, Mr. Hill-Johnson seeks a
court order prohibiting Defendant ACJ from placing him in the
RHU, enjoining the use of the restraint chair as punishment,
and requiring that Defendant ACJ place him in the substance
abuse program and provide him with counseling.
Rule of Civil Procedure 65 allows a court to enter a
temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction,
measures that the Supreme Court has described as
"extraordinary remed[ies] never awarded as of
right." Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council,
Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008). Courts employ a four-factor
balancing test to determine whether a party is entitled to a
preliminary injunction. Reilly v. City of
Harrisburg, 858 F.3d 173, 176 (3d Cir. 2017). First, the
moving party must show that he has "a likelihood of
success on the merits" and that he "will suffer
irreparable harm if the injunction is denied." Doe
v. Boyertown Area Sch Dist., 897 F.3d 518, 526 (3d Cir.
2018) (internal quotations omitted). If the moving party
establishes both, the court balances those two factors
against whether there will be irreparable injury to the
opposing party if the injunction is granted and whether
public interest favors an injunction. Osorio-Martinez v.
AG United States, 893 F.3d 153, 178 (3d Cir. 2018);
Doe v. Boyertown Area Sch Dist, 897 F.3d 518, 526
(3d Cir. 2018).
establishing a likelihood of success on the merits, the
moving party must make "a showing significantly better
than negligible but not necessarily more likely than
not." Reilly, 858 F.3d at 179. "'How
strong a claim on the merits is enough depends on the balance
of the harms: the more net harm an injunction can prevent,
the weaker the plaintiffs claim on the merits can be while
still supporting some preliminary relief.'"
Id. (quoting Hoosier Energy Rural Elec. Coop.,
Inc. v. John Hancock Life Ins. Co., 582 F.3d 721, 725
(7th Cir. 2009)). As to the second element of irreparable
harm, the moving party must "demonstrate that
irreparable injury is likely in the absence of an
injunction," not just that irreparable injury is
possible. Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council,
Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 22 (2008) (emphasis added). A mere
possibility of irreparable injury is "too lenient"
of a standard, because "[i]ssuing a preliminary
injunction based only on a possibility of irreparable harm is
inconsistent with [the Supreme Court's] characterization
of injunctive relief as an extraordinary remedy."
Id. Moreover, a court should not issue a preliminary
injunction "simply to prevent the possibility of some
remote future injury," Id. (internal quotations
omitted), or "merely to allay the fears and
apprehensions or to soothe the anxieties of the
parties." Grant Heilman Photography, Inc. v. John
Wiley & Sons, Inc., 864 F.Supp.2d 316, 325 (E.D. Pa.
Likelihood of success on the merits
order for an inmate to establish that a jail violated the
ADA, he must allege that "(1) he is a qualified
individual with a disability; (2) he was either excluded from
participation in or denied the benefits of some public
entity's services, programs, or activities; and (3) such
exclusion, denial of benefits, or discrimination was by
reason of his disability." Lopez v. Beard, 333
Fed.Appx. 685, 687 n.l (3d Cir. 2009) (citing 42 U.S.C.
§ 12132). Mr. Hill-Johnson testified, and Defendants
agreed, that he is diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress
Disorder (PTSD), paranoia, anxiety, and depression, and that
he also struggles with drug addiction. Mr. Hill-Johnson
contends, and Defendants do not dispute, that his mental
health diagnoses and drug addiction make him a qualified
individual with a disability under the ADA. Additionally, Mr.
Hill-Johnson testified that he has not been allowed to
participate in counseling or substance abuse treatment, but
has instead been placed in the RHU or been given other
disciplinary measures. Defendants acknowledge that Mr.
Hill-Johnson has been subjected to disciplinary measures, and
that such measures prevented his participation in treatment
services. Accordingly, the first two elements of Mr.
Hill-Johnson's ADA claim are met, and the likelihood of
success of this claim turns on whether the disciplinary
measures and subsequent exclusion from or denial of services
were because of Mr. Hill-Johnson's disability.
Hill-Johnson provided testimony about specific incidents in
which he was pepper-sprayed, tased, or otherwise restrained
for, in Mr. Hill-Johnson's view, asking for help. In one
such incident, for example, Mr. Hill-Johnson stood in line to
try to get into a substance abuse program. When it was his
turn to speak with the staff member, he was denied entry into
the program and was told to go. He refused and continued to
stand there. Consequently, he was restrained and removed. In
another incident, during a strip search, Mr. Hill-Johnson
again requested mental health services. Despite demands that
he remove his clothes, Mr. Hill-Johnson repeatedly asked for
services and did not comply with the strip search. Officers
ultimately sprayed him with mace. He indicated that he
believed there was no reason for any force at all, as he
repeatedly stated that during this incident, he kept his arms
raised and his legs crossed. He further testified, however,
that he gets "misconducts," that is, receives
disciplinary write-ups, because he refuses to comply with
strip searches and refuses to go in ...