Thomas v. Wilkins et al
ORDER ADOPTING 80 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS and denying 54 Motion for Preliminary Injunction. Signed by Honorable Timothy L. Brooks on January 6, 2015. (tg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
SAMUEL LEWIS THOMAS
CASE NO. 5:13-CV-05246
DEPUTY WILKINS; DEPUTY
RILEY; DEPUTY BOWMEN;
DEPUTY LONG; and
OPINION AND ORDER
Currently before the Court is the Report and Recommendation (“R & R”) (Doc. 80)
of the Honorable James R. Marschewski, Chief United States Magistrate Judge for the
Western District of Arkansas, filed in this case on November 5, 2014, regarding Plaintiff
Samuel Lewis Thomas’s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining
Order (Doc. 54). Thomas has filed Objections (Doc. 85) to the R & R. The Court has
conducted a de novo review as to all specified proposed findings and recommendations
to which Brown has raised objections. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Accordingly, the Court finds
that the R & R should be, and hereby is, APPROVED and ADOPTED IN ITS ENTIRETY.
While incarcerated at Benton County Detention Center (“BCDC”), Thomas maintains
that his constitutional rights were violated because: (1) he is and was being discriminated
against; (2) he was transported illegally back to BCDC; (3) BCDC personnel have used
excessive force against him; (4) he has been denied adequate medical care; (5) he was
wrongfully held after an eight-hour detoxification; (6) BCDC personnel failed to protect him
from attacks by fellow inmates; (7) at times he was unable to submit grievances through
the kiosk system; (8) he has been denied recreation; and (9) he was segregated due to his
race. Thomas requests that the Court enjoin Defendants from restraining and transporting
him, handling his food, handling incoming or outgoing mail, administering his medication,
or being out of camera view with him.
The Magistrate recommends that Thomas’s Motion be denied because Thomas
cannot show: (1) a likelihood of success on the merits; (2) an eminent threat of injury; and
(3) that the issuance of an injunction is in the public interest.
Thomas has filed Objections (Doc. 85) to the R & R, but has failed to address any
of the Magistrate’s substantive findings. Instead, Thomas concedes that “jail personel [sic]
will have to go out their way some to accomidate [sic] all the request the order contained
and will be detrementle [sic] to maintaining a safe jail setting for me, staff, and other
inmates.” (Doc. 85, p. 1). Nonetheless, without making specific objections to the R & R,
Thomas maintains that Defendants should be precluded from transporting him or “seizing”
him unnecessarily; being alone or out of camera view with him; handling or administering
his medication; or denying him recreation time or “key opps” privileges. Id.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
In considering whether to grant injunctive relief, the Court must consider the
following factors: (1) the threat of irreparable harm to the movant; (2) the state of balance
between the harm and the injury that granting the injunction will inflict on the other party
litigants; (3) the probability that the movant will succeed on the merits; and (4) the public
interest. Dataphase Sys. Inc. v. C.L. Sys. Inc., 640 F.2d 109, 113 (8th Cir. 1981) (en banc).
No single factor is dispositive, but the movant must establish a threat of irreparable harm.
Id. Without such a finding, a preliminary injunction should not be issued. Randolph v.
Rogers, 170 F.3d 850, 856 (8th Cir. 1999). “The burden of proving that a preliminary
injunction should be issued rests entirely with the movant.” Goff v. Harper, 60 F.3d 518,
520-21 (8th Cir. 1995). However, “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’ . . . [t]he courts
should not get involved unless either a constitutional violation has already occurred or the
threat of such a violation is both real and immediate.” Id. (quoting Rogers v. Scurr, 676
F.2d 1211, 1214 (8th Cir. 1982)).
Thomas fails to object specifically to any of the R & R’s findings, and as determined
by the Magistrate, Thomas’s allegations are conclusory and based upon his own
interpretation of events and jail conditions. Nonetheless, the Court begins by analyzing
whether there is a threat of irreparable harm. In order to demonstrate irreparable harm,
the movant must demonstrate that “the harm is certain and of such imminence that there
is a clear and present need for equitable relief.” Iowa Utils. Bd. v. Fed. Commc’ns Comm’n,
109 F.3d 418, 425 (8th Cir. 1996). The failure to demonstrate the existence of irreparable
harm is, standing alone, sufficient grounds for denying injunctive relief. Watkins Inc. v.
Lewis, 346 F.3d 841, 844 (8th Cir. 2003). Here, Thomas alleges only that he will be
irreparably harmed by the continuing violation of constitutional rights. (Doc. 26, p.13). He
does not describe how the harm is both imminent and irreparable, such that there is an
immediate need for equitable relief. Instead, he provides a long list of wrongs allegedly
done by Defendants, but offers no corroborating evidence. Further, in his Objections,
Thomas admits that he inexplicably sent a bogus settlement agreement to Defendants in
an attempt to gain more information in support of his “TRO,” regarding his suspicions of
“campagine [sic] harassment coming for some of the defendents [sic] end.” (Doc. 85, p.2).
Moreover, he acknowledged “I do not have enough supportive information to help out this
theory.” Id. Thus, the Court finds that Thomas fails to allege sufficient facts to support a
finding of imminent and irreparable harm.
Even if the Court were to assume that Thomas established irreparable harm, he has
failed to meet his burden of establishing success on the merits. The majority of his
assertions involve conditions of confinement, to which the Eighth Amendment’s deliberate
indifference standard applies. See Taylor v. Dormire, 690 F.3d 898, 904 (8th Cir. 2012).
Thus, prisoners claiming that conditions of confinement constitute cruel and unusual
punishment are required to show deliberate indifference on the part of prison officials.
Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294 (1991). W hile the Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and
unusual punishment, it “does not mandate comfortable prisons,” and only those
deprivations denying “the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities,” are sufficiently
grave to form the basis of an Eighth Amendment violation. Id. 501 U.S. at 298. As found
by the Magistrate, nothing in the record reveals that Thomas was deprived of basic
necessities, and therefore he is unlikely to succeed on the merits.
Regarding whether issuing an injunction would serve the public interest, the Court
finds it would not. As the Magistrate points out, while courts have found that “protecting
constitutional rights of inmates by maintaining the status quo of a few inmates outweighs
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