Scruggs v. Penning et al
OPINION AND ORDER: DENYING 6 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction . Mr. Scruggs is CAUTIONED that if he does not stop filing meritless motions for preliminary injunction and/or does not stop placing multiple case numbers on his filings, he may be fined, sanctioned, or restricted from filing. Signed by Judge Robert L Miller, Jr on 6/21/2017. (Copy mailed to pro se party via e-file)(lhc)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
CHRISTOPHER L. SCRUGGS,
SGT. PENNING, et al.,
CAUSE NO. 3:17-CV-422 RLM
OPINION AND ORDER
Christopher L. Scruggs, a prisoner representing himself,1 has filed a motion
for preliminary injunction in this newly filed case. Mr. Scruggs seeks two forms
of preliminary injunctive relief. First, he asks this court to order Westville
Correctional Facility staff to process his prison grievances. Second, he requests
an order requiring the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility to employ a full time
law librarian and for that librarian to promptly file with the court all of his
“[A] preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy, one that
should not be granted unless the movant, by a clear showing, carries the burden
of persuasion.” Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972 (1997). To get
preliminary injunctive relief, the moving party must demonstrate that he or she
has a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits, lacks an adequate remedy
at law, and will suffer irreparable harm if immediate relief isn’t granted. Girl
Mr. Scruggs was previously housed at the Westville Correctional Facility, but is now
incarcerated at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility.
Scouts of Manitou Council, Inc. v. Girl Scouts of U.S., Inc., 549 F.3d 1079, 1086
(7th Cir. 2008). Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, injunctive relief must be
“narrowly drawn, extend no further than necessary to remedy the constitutional
violation, and must use the least intrusive means to correct the violation of the
federal right.” Westefer v. Neal, 682 F.3d 679, 681 (7th Cir. 2012).
I. REQUEST TO ORDER WESTVILLE STAFF TO PROCESS HIS GRIEVANCES
First, Mr. Scruggs complains that he was prevented from exhausting the
grievance process at Westville regarding an alleged May 15, 2017, attack. He asks
the court to order prison officials to process his grievances related to that attack.
He has no right to the grievance process. The Prison Litigation Reform Act doesn’t
require a state to create a grievance procedure for its prison inmates, so being
denied access to a prison grievance procedure can’t form the basis for a
constitutional claim. Kervin v. Barnes, 787 F.3d 833, 835 (7th Cir. 2015).
He has no chance of success on the merits of this motion for a preliminary
injunction for another reason: compelling non-parties to process his grievances
is beyond the scope of his claims in this lawsuit. Although the complaint hasn’t
yet been screened, this lawsuit is about Mr. Scruggs suing five defendants for
using excessive force against him in January 2017. If Mr. Scruggs succeeds in this
lawsuit, he won’t get any relief related to his complaints that his recent grievances
haven’t been processed. Because this motion seeks relief outside the scope of the
complaint, Mr. Scruggs can’t obtain relief he seeks. See Williams v. Evelsizer, No.
12-CV-1082, 2013 WL 3337956, * 1 (July 2, 2013 S.D. Ill.) (holding that a plaintiff
is not likely to succeed on the merits when he seeks injunctive relief outside the
scope of his complaint).
Moreover, Mr. Scruggs hasn’t shown that he will suffer any irreparable
harm. Inmates are only required to exhaust administrative remedies that are
“available.” Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 102 (2006). When prison staff hinder
an inmate’s ability to use the administrative process, administrative remedies are
not considered “available.” Kaba v. Stepp, 458 F.3d 678, 684 (7th Cir. 2006). In
essence, “[p]rison officials may not take unfair advantage of the exhaustion
requirement . . . and a remedy becomes ‘unavailable’ if prison employees do not
respond to a properly filed grievance or otherwise use affirmative misconduct to
prevent a prisoner from exhausting.” Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804, 809 (7th
Cir. 2006). A court deciding whether an administrative remedy was effectively
unavailable asks whether the inmate did “all that was reasonable to exhaust”
under the circumstances. Id. at 812. If Mr. Scruggs is truly prevented from
exhausting his administrative remedies, he will simply be excused from that
II. REQUEST THAT WABASH BE ORDERED TO HIRE A FULL TIME
LAW LIBRARIAN AND FILE HIS DOCUMENTS WITHIN ONE DAY
Mr. Scruggs was transferred to the Wabash Valley facility on June 2, 2017.
He complains that on June 6, he submitted a number of documents for filing that
hadn’t been filed with the court as of June 11. When he asked his counselor about
this problem, she told him “to give it some time.” He didn’t give it time; instead,
he filed this motion asking that the court order Wabash Valley to employ a full
time law library worker and order that librarian to electronically file all submitted
legal papers within one day of their being submitted. This claim, too, is outside the
scope of his complaint. The only relationship that this lawsuit has to the
allegations that prison officials have delayed filing his submitted documents is
that Mr. Scruggs fears he will have difficulty litigating this case in the future. The
record provides no support for that fear. The documents Mr. Scruggs complained
about not being filed have been filed. ECF 4-9. His counselor was right; Mr.
Scruggs just had to give it some time.
“[T]he problems of prisons in America are complex and intractable,” and
“courts are particularly ill equipped to deal with these problems[.]” Shaw v.
Murphy, 532 U.S. 223, 229 (2001) (internal quote marks and citation omitted).
Courts must afford prison officials “wide-ranging deference” in the day-to-day
operations of a correctional facility. Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 547 (1979). The
federal courts defer to correctional professionals in the adoption and execution of
policies for the operation of a penal institution. Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312,
321-22 (1986); Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 349 n. 14 (1981); Bell v.
Wolfish, 411 U.S. at 547. Mr. Scruggs isn’t entitled to a court order simply
because he would prefer to have the prison hire a full time law librarian and be
able to file documents within one day. These inconveniences are simply a result
of his being incarcerated, and don’t prejudice him. If Mr. Scruggs needs additional
time to meet any future deadline in this case due to a delay in filing, he should
simply request an extension of time when appropriate.
As a final matter, Mr. Scruggs must stop filing frivolous motions for
preliminary injunction whenever he feels inconvenienced or wronged. As explained
before, that isn’t the purpose of preliminary injunctive relief. Mr. Scruggs has been
abusive in his practice of filing frivolous motions for preliminary injunctive relief.
He has filed nineteen such motions since 2016.2 A motion for preliminary
injunction gets immediate priority over other filings. Mr. Scruggs’s unnecessary
overuse of them has slowed the progress of each of his cases - and many other
cases on the docket - to the point that they have come to a grinding halt.
Mr. Scruggs also must stop putting more than one case number on each of
his filings. He placed seven case numbers on this preliminary injunction motion.
This causes his filings to be reviewed in many unrelated and unnecessary cases,
resulting in a large waste of time and judicial resources. Each of his filings should
include only one case number in the future.
For these reasons, the court DENIES the motion for a preliminary
injunction. Mr. Scruggs is CAUTIONED that if he does not stop filing meritless
ECF 6, 61 and 72 in Scruggs v. West, Case No. 3:16-cv-33 (N.D. Ind. filed January 21,
2016, Judge Robert L. Miller); ECF 4, 8, 11, 22, 77 and 86 in Scruggs v. SinClair, Case No.
3:16-cv-39 (N.D. Ind. filed January 21, 2016, Judge Jon DeGuilio); ECF 3, 4, 157, 163 and 182
in Scruggs v. Miller, Case No. 3:16-cv-50 (N.D. Ind. filed Feb. 1, 2016, Judge Jon DeGuilio);
ECF 18, 25 in Scruggs v. Shihadeh, Case No. 3:16-cv-722 (N.D. Ind. filed October 18, 2016,
Judge Philip P. Simon); ECF 6 in Scruggs v. Penning, Case No. 3:17-cv-422 (N.D. Ind. filed May
31, 2017, Judge Robert L. Miller); ECF 6 in Scruggs v. Miller, Case No. 3:17-cv-423 (N.D. Ind.
filed May 31, 2017, Judge Jon DeGuilio).
motions for preliminary injunction and/or does not stop placing multiple case
numbers on his filings, he may be fined, sanctioned, or restricted from filing.
ENTERED: June 21 , 2017.
/s/ Robert L. Miller, Jr.
United States District Court
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