Toth v. Schwarzenegger, et al.

Filing 9

ORDER Denying Plaintiff's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction 3 , signed by Magistrate Judge Michael J. Seng on 9/7/11. (Verduzco, M)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 9 R.C. (“Angela Brandywine”) Toth, 10 CASE NO. Plaintiff, ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION 11 v. 12 13 1:11-cv-247-MJS (PC) Schwarzenegger, et. al., (ECF No. 3) Defendants. 14 15 / 16 17 18 19 20 21 I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY Plaintiff R.C. (“Angela Brandywine”) Toth (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed this action on February 14, 2011. (Compl., ECF No. 1.) She1 also filed a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and a Preliminary Injunction on the same day. 22 23 24 (Mot., ECF No. 3.) The Court has not yet screened Plaintiff’s Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(A)(a), and no other parties have appeared in this action. 25 26 27 1 Plaintiff identifies herself as a transgender inm ate. She refers to herself using fem ale pronouns. (Com pl. at 6.) The Court will do likewise. -1- 1 Currently before the Court is Plaintiff’s Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order 2 and for a Preliminary Injunction filed on February 14, 2011. (Mot., ECF No. 3.) Plaintiff is 3 requesting a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order “to ensure that she 4 receives equal treatment.” (Id. At 2.) Plaintiff seeks to require “all departmental employees 5 6 to undergo sensitivity training and implement departmental regulations designed and 7 calculated at providing LGBTQ2 prisoners treatment and standards of living as is provided 8 to heterosexual prisoners,” among other requests. (Id.) 9 II. 10 11 ARGUMENT In the Motion, Plaintiff states that she is a transgender prisoner currently housed at Pleasant Valley State Prison (“PVSP”). She has been subjected to abusive, homophobic, 12 13 and discriminatory treatment from both staff and prisoners at PVSP as a result of their 14 prejudices and biases against LGBTQ prisoners. Plaintiff has been assaulted by prisoners 15 and battered and physically abused by staff because she is transgendered. She has been 16 deprived of equal protection and treatment under the law because of her sexuality and 17 sexual orientation. Plaintiff has been treated differently because she is a transsexual 18 prisoner. 3 19 Plaintiff asks the Court to require experts to meet with the California Department of 20 21 Corrections (“CDCR”), the entity responsible for running PVSP, and have the CDCR adopt 22 a certain standard of care for LGBTQ prisoners. Plaintiff’s proposed standard of care is 23 summarized, largely using her own words, as follows: 1) inmates should participate in 24 25 2 26 3 27 LGBTQ refers to “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning.” In her Motion, Plaintiff refers to a declaration with additional facts, but no declaration was attached to the Motion. (Mot at 2.) -2- 1 mandatory tolerance and educational training, 2) CDCR should provide equal treatment 2 and religious inclusion, 3) CDCR should document whenever a LGBTQ prisoner is 3 victimized, 4) all CDCR institutions should enter into a contract to prosecute any inmate or 4 staff who attacks and victimizes a LGBTQ inmate for a hate crime, 5) CDCR should 5 6 acknowledge that LGBTQ inmates have a right to be treated equally, 6) CDCR should 7 include gay hate crimes in the third disciplinary matrix within the California Code of 8 Regulations title 15, 7) CDCR should acknowledge that LGBTQ inmates are taken into 9 consideration for every new policy implemented, 8) all LGBTQ inmates should receive a 10 copy of an orientation booklet that will outline and inform inmates of their rights and 11 responsibilities, this book should be signed for by each inmate who receives it, and it 12 should be updated annually, 9) CDCR should create a stronger presence of authority that 13 14 will intervene when LGBTQ prisoners are harassed and CDCR should post notifications 15 about sentences received by inmates convicted of LGBTQ hate crimes, 10) CDCR should 16 house certain LGBTQ inmates with inmates who have similar sensibilities, 11) libraries run 17 by the CDCR should have publications on current LGBTQ issues, 12) CDCR should 18 implement policies that find and remove predators and keep a record in a central database 19 of inmates known to prey on LGBTQ inmates, 13) CDCR should develop a curriculum for 20 21 annually training staff on LGBTQ tolerance, staff should be taught to use the proper 22 LGBTQ pronouns, and CDCR should keep a permanent record on staff found to be 23 abusing LGBTQ inmates, 14) CDCR should implement polices to address homophobia and 24 other issues, 15) CDCR should provide therapy for inmates with Gender Identity Disorder 25 26 and for LGBTQ inmates, 16) CDCR should implement policies to provide representatives from each unit who will write daily logs, reports and monthly reports on LGBTQ issues, 17) 27 -3- 1 CDCR should keep statistical data on LGBTQ inmates, 18) CDCR should contact local 2 LGBTQ community centers to help LGBTQ inmates with reentry, 19) CDCR should work 3 to develop ties with local LGBTQ community centers, 20) appeals coordinators should be 4 trained about the special needs of LGBTQ inmates and there should be a private interview 5 6 with LGBTQ inmates who submit appeals, 21) CDCR should implement polices that forbid 7 punishing a LGBTQ inmate who refuses to accept a cell mate or to be placed in a 8 dangerous situation, 22) CDCR should make domestic partnerships as visible as 9 heterosexual marriage, 23) CDCR should use proper pronouns when dealing with 10 transgenders, provide hormone therapy, provide appropriate undergarments for 11 transgendered inmates, among other policy changes, 24) CDCR should implement policies 12 that protect LGBTQ inmates from being punished by changing their release date for non13 14 disciplinary reasons or circumstances beyond their control, 25) CDCR should have zero 15 tolerance for outing a prisoner, 26) CDCR should implement a contractual agreement for 16 LGBTQ inmates at local county jails, 27) CDCR should implement a strict compliance for 17 LGBTQ inmates once on parole, 28) CDCR should be prohibited from transferring or 18 housing any LGBTQ inmate out of state if the state does not provide similar rights as 19 provided to LGBTQ inmates in California, 29) CDCR should be prohibited from searching 20 21 transgender inmates and prison queens in front of male inmates and any searches 22 performed on transgendered inmates should be done with individuals who identify with that 23 gender, 30) CDCR should implement an ombudsperson at each institution who identifies 24 as LGBTQ themselves, and this individual should enforce compliance, act as an expert 25 26 and advocate, among other things, and 31) these recommendations should be implemented within one year, and if they are not then the CDCR should report the name 27 -4- 1 of staff members who interfere with implementation to Plaintiff, the Court, and 2 organizations. 3 III. 4 LEGAL STANDARDS Plaintiff requests both a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order 5 6 7 (“TRO”) motion in her Motion. The standards, and the Court’s analysis and conclusion, below, are effectively the same for both. 8 A TRO may be granted without written or oral notice to the adverse party or that 9 party’s attorney only if: (1) it clearly appears from specific facts shown by affidavit or by the 10 verified complaint that immediate and irreparable injury, loss or damage will result to the 11 applicant before the adverse party or the party’s attorney can be heard in opposition, and 12 13 (2) the applicant’s attorney certifies in writing the efforts, if any, which have been made to 14 give notice and the reasons supporting the claim that notice should not be required. See 15 Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(b). Otherwise the standards for a TRO are essentially the same as that 16 for a preliminary injunction. 17 18 To be entitled to preliminary injunctive relief, a party must demonstrate “that [she] is likely to succeed on the merits, that [she] is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the 19 absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in [her] favor, and that an 20 21 injunction is in the public interest.” Stormans, Inc. v. Selecky, 586 F.3d 1109, 1127 (9th 22 Cir. 2009) (citing Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 129 S.Ct. 365, 374 (2008)). The 23 Ninth Circuit has also held that the “sliding scale” approach it applies to preliminary 24 injunctions as it relates to the showing a plaintiff must make regarding her chances of 25 success on the merits survives Winter and continues to be valid. Alliance for Wild Rockies 26 v. Cottrell, 622 F.3d 1045, 1052-53 (9th Cir. 2010). Under this sliding scale, the elements 27 -5- 1 of the preliminary injunction test are balanced. As relates to the merits analysis, a stronger 2 showing of irreparable harm to plaintiff might offset a lesser showing of likelihood of 3 success on the merits. Id. 4 Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), in cases brought by prisoners 5 6 involving conditions of confinement, any preliminary injunction “must be narrowly drawn, 7 extend no further than necessary to correct the harm the court finds requires preliminary 8 relief, and be the least intrusive means necessary to correct the harm.” 18 U.S.C. § 9 3626(a)(2). 10 11 IV. ANALYSIS Plaintiff asks the Court to impose at this preliminary stage of the case a generalized 12 13 standard of care and conditions of confinement for LGBTQ prisoners to include 31 specific 14 reforms to the general prison system. Plaintiff claims that she meets all criteria necessary 15 to be granted injunctive relief in that: 1) without the Court’s help, Plaintiff will suffer 16 irreparable harm due to CDCR’s lack of policies to protect LGBTQ prisoners and CDCR’s 17 refusal to provide medical treatment for Plaintiff’s transgenderism; 2) the balance of 18 equities tip in her favor; 3) Plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits; and 4) the relief 19 sought will serve the public interest. 20 21 Plaintiff has failed to satisfy the legal prerequisites for injunctive relief. Plaintiff’s 22 requested relief extends far beyond solving inequities Plaintiff contends she faces in prison 23 and well beyond the Court’s authority. Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 84 (1987) (“Prison 24 administration is...a task that has been committed to the responsibility of...[the legislative 25 and executive] branches, and separation of powers concerns counsel a policy of judicial 26 restraint.”) She has not shown what, if any, injury, loss, or damage she might suffer if 27 -6- 1 interim relief is denied. She does not advise of efforts, if any, she has made to give 2 opposing parties notice of this Motion or why notice should be waived. 3 4 Plaintiff does allege that she will be irreparably harmed because of the CDCR’s acts and deficient policies and because CDCR will not provide medical treatment for her 5 6 transgenderism. However, she does little more than allege; she does not show that the 7 perceived harm would be prevented if the relief she seeks were granted. She does not 8 show that she needs immediate medical care or that her health will suffer if it is denied. 9 Plaintiff also asks for general reforms in the prison system that would not impact her health 10 directly. But even if Plaintiff had established that there is a possibility of irreparable harm, 11 she does not satisfy the other prerequisites for injunctive relief. 12 Plaintiff states that the balance of hardships tips in her favor; she does not say, or 13 14 even imply, how that might be so. Inasmuch as Plaintiff’s injunction would effectively 15 necessitate an immediate and total reform of the CDCR prison system, it certainly would 16 impose a very substantial hardship on CDCR. Plaintiff does not show how any 17 counterbalancing hardship on her from a denial of interim relief would be greater. 18 Plaintiff also states that she is likely to succeed on the merits. There is no basis 19 upon which the Court can so conclude. The Court has not yet screened Plaintiff’s 20 21 Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The authorities cited by Plaintiff in support 22 of her request for injunctive relief – cases dealing with excessive force, freedom of 23 expression, and gender equality issues – do not even relate to the allegations in her 24 Complaint. 25 26 It is possible that the relief Plaintiff seeks will serve the public interest; the protection of constitutional rights is a compelling public interest. See United States v. Raines, 362 27 -7- 1 U.S. 17, 27 (1960). However, Plaintiff’s requested relief goes beyond protecting Plaintiff’s 2 constitutional rights and extends beyond the Court’s jurisdiction. See Stormans, Inc., 586 3 F.3d at 1139 (Requested injunction would enjoin enforcement of regulations at issue 4 beyond the plaintiffs themselves, and would reach non-parties and implicate issues of 5 6 7 broader public concern. Court ultimately denied preliminary injunction because it was overbroad.) 8 Indeed, Plaintiff’s requested relief is also not allowed under the PLRA. The PLRA 9 requires that any prospective relief in civil actions related to prison conditions “must be 10 narrowly drawn, extend no further than necessary to correct the harm the court finds 11 requires preliminary relief, and be the least intrusive means necessary to correct the harm.” 12 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(2). Pierce v. County of Orange, 526 F.3d 1190, 1203 (9th Cir. 2008) 13 14 (“The PLRA both limits the prospective relief a court may order in [civil actions challenging 15 prison conditions], and authorizes the termination of relief that does not fall within those 16 limits.”). Plaintiff’s proposed standard of care and conditions of confinement go far beyond 17 correcting the potential harm that Plaintiff is individually facing, and instead goes to helping 18 LGBTQ prisoners all across the California prison system. Plaintiff’s motion must therefore 19 also be denied under the PLRA. 20 21 V. CONCLUSION Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion for a Temporary 22 23 Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction (ECF No. 3) is DENIED. 24 IT IS SO ORDERED. 25 26 27 Dated: ci4d6 September 7, 2011 /s/ Michael J. Seng UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE -8-

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