Hamilton v. Singleton et al
ORDER denying 15 Motion for Preliminary Injunction. Signed by Honorable Barry A. Bryant on March 28, 2014. (mll)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
Civil No. 4:13-cv-04038
JAMES SINGLETON; JOAN
MCCLEAN; JOHNNY GODBOLT;
and STEPHEN GLOVER
Plaintiff Ted Hamilton proceeds in this action pro se and in forma pauperis pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Corrections
Wrightsville Unit in Wrightsville, Arkansas. Currently before the Court is Plaintiff’s Motion for
Preliminary Injunction. ECF No. 15. Defendants responded. ECF No. 25. Plaintiff replied. ECF
No. 28. The Parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge to conduct any and all
proceedings in this case, including conducting the trial, ordering the entry of a final judgment, and
conducting all post-judgment proceedings. ECF No. 36. Pursuant to this authority, the Court finds
this Motions ready for decision and issues this Order.
Plaintiff filed his Complaint on April 10, 2013. ECF No. 1. The events complained of in
Plaintiff’s Complaint occurred while he was incarcerated at the Hempstead County Detention Center
(“HCDC”), however, Plaintiff was already incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Corrections
Wrightsville Unit (“ADC”) when he filed his Complaint in April 2013. Plaintiff remains
incarcerated in the ADC at this time.
In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical
needs by denying and delaying his access to medical treatment for a broken hand and “thumb
capsular ligament tear.” ECF No. 1, p. 4. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges he injured his hand and
thumb on the evening of March 26, 2012 by falling off the top bunk. ECF No. 1, p. 5. Plaintiff was
given an ice pack and pain pills and taken to the emergency room that same night. ECF No. 1, p.
5. Plaintiff’s hand was x-rayed and splinted at the emergency room and he was sent back to the
HCDC. ECF No. 1, p. 5.
On March 28, 2012, Plaintiff filed an inmate medical request seeking an appointment with
a “hand doctor” and explaining he was still in pain. ECF No. 5, p. 6. On April 5, 2012, Plaintiff
filed another inmate medical request regarding the pain in his hand and thumb. ECF No. 1, p. 6.
Plaintiff was seen by Defendant McClean1 on April 7, 2012 and he was informed at this time that
Defendant McClean would make him an appointment but needed to get Defendant Godbolt and
Singleton’s approval first. ECF No. 1, p. 6.
On April 12, 2012, Plaintiff filed another inmate medical request regarding the pain in his
hand and thumb. ECF No. 1, p. 6. On April 14, 2012, Plaintiff saw Defendant McClean again and
she informed Plaintiff he had an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon on April 19, 2012. ECF
No. 1, p. 6. On April 19, 2012, Plaintiff was transported to his appointment with the orthopedic
surgeon. ECF No. 1, p. 7. Plaintiff claims the orthopedic surgeon attempted to put his thumb back
“in position” but was unable to do so. Further, Plaintiff claims that the orthopedic surgeon stated:
because the HCDC waited so long to bring Plaintiff in, he would need surgery to repair his hand and
thumb. ECF No. 1, p. 7.
On April 26, 2012, Plaintiff filed an inmate medical request again complaining about the pain
Defendant McClean is either the resident nurse or nurse practitioner at the HCDC.
in his hand and thumb and requesting the surgery recommended by the orthopedic surgeon. ECF No.
1, p. 7. On April 30, 2012, Plaintiff was released from the HCDC with a leg monitor. Plaintiff’s
hand surgery was scheduled for May 1, 2012. ECF No. 1, p. 8. When Plaintiff called the orthopedic
surgeon’s officer to get details on his surgery he was informed the HCDC was no longer paying for
his surgery and the surgery center would require a payment of $2,000 from Plaintiff prior to the
surgery the next morning. Plaintiff was unable to pay this amount so he did not have the surgery.
Plaintiff has never had the surgery and claims he now has a permanent disability because he no
longer has full range of movement in his “hand thumb joint.” ECF No. 1, p. 9.
Plaintiff requests the Court grant him an injunction ordering Defendants to arrange for
Plaintiff to have his hand surgery and physical therapy and also for compensatory damages against
Defendants. ECF No. 1, p. 11.
Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures governs the issuance of temporary
restraining orders and preliminary injunctions. “A court issues a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit
to preserve the status quo and prevent irreparable harm until the court has an opportunity to rule on
the lawsuit’s merits.” Devose v. Herrington, 42 F.3d 470, 471 (8th Cir. 1994). In deciding a motion
for a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction, the courts are instructed to consider the
following factors: (1) the probability of success on the merits; (2) the threat of irreparable harm to
the movant; (3) the balance between this harm and the injury that granting the injunction will inflict
on other interested parties; and (4) whether the issuance of an injunction is in the public interest.
Dataphase Sys., Inc. v. C L Sys., Inc., 640 F.2d 109, 114 (8th Cir. 1981) (en banc); see also
Minnesota Mining and Mfg. Co. v. Rauh Rubber, Inc., 130 F.3d 1305, 1307 (8th Cir. 1997);
Sanborn Mfg. Co., Inc. v. Campbell Hausfeld/Scott Fetzer Co., 997 F.2d 484, 485-86 (8th Cir. 1993).
While no single factor in itself is dispositive, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has held “the two
most critical factors for a district court to consider in determining whether to grant a preliminary
injunction are: (1) the probability that plaintiff will succeed on the merits and (2) whether the
plaintiff will suffer irreparable harm if an injunction is not granted.” Chicago Stadium Corp. v.
Scallen, 530 F.2d 204, 206 (8th Cir. 1976). “A claim for equitable relief is moot absent a showing
of irreparable injury, a requirement that cannot be met where there is no showing of any real or
immediate threat that the plaintiff will be wronged again.” Randolph v. Rogers, 170 F.3d 850, 856
(8th Cir. 1999) (internal quotations omitted).
The burden of proving a preliminary injunction is warranted rest on the movant. Goff v.
Harper, 60 F.3d 518, 520 (8th Cir. 1995). Additionally, if a prisoner is no longer subject to the
conditions he complains of in his Complaint and Motion, his claim for injunctive relief is moot.
Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985). Further, the Eighth Circuit has instructed
that “in the prison context, a request for injunctive relief must always be viewed with great caution
because judicial restraint is especially called for in dealing with the complex and intractable
problems of prison administration.” Id. (internal quotations omitted).
In his Motion for Preliminary Injunction Plaintiff sets forth the same facts as alleged in his
Complaint. ECF No. 15, pp.2-6. Plaintiff then argues that he is threatened with irreparable harm
because “without the recommend surgery from [the orthopedic surgeon] . . . [and] because of the
Delay and Denial of needed medical treatment and the nature of plaintiff injury, a broken hand and
thumb with loss of movement. and function. If Plaintiff does not receive the proper recommend
surgery, he may never use his hand and Thumb proper or normally again.” ECF No. 15, p. 8 (errors
in original). Plaintiff also alleges in his Reply, that he is currently receiving Tylenol and an ace
bandage for his hand while incarcerated at the ADC. ECF No. 28, p. 2.
Plaintiff also argues the balance of hardships are in his favor. Specifically, Plaintiff argues
that the potential suffering of his permanent disability and present suffering are more of a hardship
than Defendants would suffer if they were required to pay for his hand surgery. Plaintiff asserts that
paying for his hand surgery is nothing more than “business as usual” for Defendants. ECF No. 15,
Additionally, Plaintiff argues he is likely to succeed on the merits in this matter because
Defendants denied and delayed his access to medical treatment and then intentionally interfered with
medical treatment once it was prescribed.
Lastly, Plaintiff argues that the relief he seeks is in the public interests because “it is always
in the public interest for jail and prison officials to obey the law, especially the constitution. ECF
No. 15, p. 11.
Defendants argued in their Response that Plaintiff is not entitled to a preliminary injunction
against Defendants because (1) he is no longer incarcerated in the HCDC under the control of the
Defendants; and (2) he has failed to establish that he is currently at any immediate risk of irreparable
harm if he does not receive the requested medical treatment. ECF No. 25.2
Plaintiff’s release from the HCDC renders his Motion moot. Dulany v. Carnahan, 132 F.3d
1234, 1239 (8th Cir. 1997) (release from the institution in which the injunctive relief is sought
The Court notes that Defendants did not cite to any law to support the arguments in their
Response. Therefore, any legal analysis contained herein is the result of the Court’s own
research and application without the benefit of legal analysis or arguments from Defendants.
against moots the request for injunctive relief).
Furthermore, Plaintiff no longer has standing to seek injunctive relief against Defendants
when Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated in the HCDC. “Standing to seek injunctive relief requires
a plaintiff, inter alia, to show a likelihood of a future injury.” Meuir v. Green County Jail
Employees, 487 F.3d 115, 1119 (8th Cir. 2007) (holding that a prisoner, that changed custodial
placement from the county jail to the state penitentiary, lacks standing to seek injunctive relief
against the county facilities dental treatment policies).
Here, Plaintiff suffered his injury while incarcerated in the HCDC. Additionally, all of
Plaintiff’s claims of delay and denial of medical care relate to his time at the HCDC. Further,
Plaintiff alleges that he was told in April 2012, while still incarcerated in the HCDC, that his hand
and thumb had already healed incorrectly. Finally, when Plaintiff filed this case he had already been
transferred to the ADC and remains incarcerated in that facility today. Plaintiff makes no complaints
as to how the ADC is treating his hand and thumb injury. Accordingly, Plaintiff lacks standing for
injunctive relief against the HCDC. Id.
Lastly, a preliminary injunction is meant to maintain the status quo and prevent irreparable
harm until the Court has an opportunity to rule on the merits of a lawsuit. Devose v. Herrington, 42
F.3d 470, 471 (8th Cir. 1994).
Here, Plaintiff claims that if he does not receive the requested
injunctive relief he may never be able to use his hand normally again. Plaintiff, however, alleged
in his Complaint and Motion for Preliminary Injunction that he was told in April 2012, prior to filing
this lawsuit, that his hand and thumb were healed incorrectly. Additionally, Plaintiff makes no
complaints regarding the current treatment he is receiving for his hand and thumb at the ADC.
Accordingly, the Court finds any alleged threat of harm from the hand injury has already occurred
and there is no immediate threat that the plaintiff will be wronged again concerning his hand and
thumb injury. Randolph v. Rogers, 170 F.3d 850, 856 (8th Cir. 1999).
For the forgoing reasons, Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction (ECF No. 15) is
IT IS SO ORDERED, this 28th day of March 2014.
/s/ Barry A. Bryant
HON. BARRY A. BRYANT
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?