Brown v. Benoit et al
ORDER denying without prejudice 11 Motion for TRO; denying without prejudice 11 Motion for Preliminary Injunction. Signed by Judge Stefan R. Underhill on 6/5/2017. (Buttrick, A.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
RICHARD P. BENOIT, et al.,
No. 3:17-cv-53 (SRU)
RULING ON MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
Plaintiff Kenya Brown, currently incarcerated at Cheshire Correctional Institution in
Somers, Connecticut, filed this case pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Brown challenges the
constitutionality of the directive regarding dental care and alleges that the defendants are
deliberately indifferent to his dental needs. Pending is Brown’s motion for temporary restraining
order and preliminary injunction seeking dental treatment. For the reasons that follow, the
motion is denied without prejudice.
In this action, Brown alleged that the defendants, dentists Dr. Benoit and Dr.
Lichtenstein, have been deliberately indifferent to his dental needs. Dr. Benoit has failed to
ensure adequate staffing to meet the dental needs of Connecticut inmates. Inmates have been
subjected to an extraction-only policy. They have been denied cleanings and are subjected to
unreasonable wait times for treatment.
In this motion, Brown alleges that he has been without his partial denture since May 19,
2016,1 when correctional staff discarded the denture. He also continues to suffer pain in one of
his teeth. A filling became dislodged leaving a large hole in the tooth. In addition, Brown suffers
from a medical condition that prevents pain from being relieved by local anesthetics.
District courts may grant interim injunctive relief, in the form of a preliminary injunction
or temporary restraining order “where a plaintiff demonstrates irreparable harm and meets one of
two related standards: either (a) a likelihood of success on the merits, or (b) sufficiently serious
questions going to the merits of its claims to make them fair ground for litigation, plus a balance
of the hardships tipping decidedly in favor of the moving party.” Otoe-Missouria Tribe of
Indians v. New York State Dep’t of Fin. Servs., 769 F.3d 105, 110 (2d Cir. 2014) (citations and
internal quotation marks omitted). When the moving party seeks mandatory relief that “alters the
status quo by commanding some positive act,” however, the burden is higher. Cacchillo v.
Insmed, Inc., 638 F.3d 401, 406 (2d Cir. 2011) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
The court should not grant mandatory injunctive relief absent “a clear showing that the moving
party is entitled to the relief requested, or where extreme or very serious damage will result from
the denial of preliminary relief.” Id. (citation omitted). Here, Brown seeks mandatory relief
requiring the defendants to make changes to the prison administration and to override valid
Although Brown referred to a May 19, 2017 date in his papers, the court assumes that Brown meant May
19, 2016. See Decl., ECF No. 11 at 16, ¶ 8.
disciplinary sanctions. Thus, he must meet the higher standard. Accord Leary v. Daeschner, 228
F.3d 729, 739 (6th Cir 2000) (proof required “to obtain a preliminary injunction is much more
stringent than the proof required to survive a summary judgment motion”); Johnson v.
Wickersham, 2014 WL 4897387, at *3 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 11, 2014) (“the evidentiary threshold
for obtaining preliminary injunctive relief is much higher than that required to survive summary
judgment, and certainly higher than the Iqbal standard of merely showing a ‘plausible claim’”).
Prison officials must be afforded broad discretionary authority because the “operation of
a correctional institution is at best an extraordinarily difficult undertaking.” Wolff v. McDonnell,
418 U.S. 539, 566 (1974). Federal courts are extremely reluctant to interject themselves into the
day-to-day administration of state correctional institutions. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475,
491–92 (1973) (explaining that reluctance of federal courts to interfere in state judicial
proceedings applies equally to state administrative concerns, such as running correctional
facilities). Prison officials must balance their responsibilities for maintaining internal order and
discipline, securing the correctional facilities and rehabilitating the inmates. The problems faced
by prison officials are “complex and intractable,” and “not readily susceptible of resolution by
decree.” Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396, 405 (1974), overruled on other grounds by
Thornburgh v. Abbott, 490 U.S. 401 (1989); see also Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 482
(1995) (reiterating that federal courts should “afford appropriate deference and flexibility” to
state prison officials). The Prison Litigation Reform Act also imposes restrictions on preliminary
injunctive relief. Any relief must be “narrowly drawn” and “extend no further than necessary to
correct the harm”; it must be “the least intrusive means necessary to correct the harm.” 18 U.S.C.
Brown seeks an order that he be taken to the University of Connecticut Health Center for
immediate dental treatment and that he be provided a new partial denture. In response, the
defendants state that Brown’s lost filling was addressed in the Cheshire dental unit on November
10, 2016. They refer the Court to dental records submitted by Brown as exhibits to his complaint.
See Doc. #1-1 at 2. Because Brown did not file this motion until several months after the
November 2016 dental appointment, I assume that he does not consider the lost filling to have
The defendants further state that Dr. Benoit has approved a replacement denture. The
partial denture cannot be made, however, until Brown undergoes a cleaning, dental x-rays and
treatment of any other dental issues. A dental appointment for this purpose was held on March
27, 2017, and further restorative work is scheduled to begin on June 20, 2017.
In light of the defendants’ representations that Brown is now receiving care that will
permit him to be provided with a replacement partial denture and will also address any other
dental issues, I conclude that Brown will not suffer irreparable harm should this motion be
denied. If the lost filling has not been adequately treated, Brown can obtain further treatment for
that tooth at the next scheduled appointment.
Brown’s motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction [Doc. #11] is
DENIED without prejudice.
SO ORDERED this 5th day of June 2017, at Bridgeport, Connecticut.
/s/STEFAN R. UNDERHILL
Stefan R. Underhill
United States District Judge
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