Blair v. Schlitz et al
ORDER signed by Judge J.P. Stadtmueller on 2/21/2017 DENYING 7 Plaintiff's Motion for Order Regarding Medications. Plaintiff to file amended complaint naming proper defendants by 4/14/2017; failure to comply will result in dismissal of this action without further notice. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Local Rule 15) (cc: all counsel, via mail to Deandre L. Blair at Racine County Jail)(jm)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN
DEANDRE L. BLAIR,
Case No. 16-CV-1563-JPS
Plaintiff, who is incarcerated at the Racine County Jail (“Racine”), filed
a pro se complaint alleging, inter alia, that his civil rights were violated.
(Docket #1). His action centers around allegations that jail officials are
punishing him for refusing to take blood pressure medication. See id. Before
the Court are two pending matters: (1) setting a schedule for discovery
regarding the identities of the proper defendants in this case; and (2)
resolving Plaintiff’s motion for injunctive relief relating to forced
administration of medication by Racine officials.
Deadline for Identifying the Proper Defendants
All defendants save Christopher Schmaling (“Schmaling”) were
dismissed at screening as Plaintiff had not stated actionable claims against
them. See (Docket #9). The claims permitted to proceed past screening are as
follows: (1) a Fourteenth Amendment due process claim that Racine officials
punished Plaintiff for refusing unwanted medication; (2) a Fourteenth
Amendment claim for cruel and unusual punishment arising from the
conditions of confinement to which Plaintiff was subjected after refusing
medication; and (3) a Wisconsin state law claim for conversion based on
alleged theft of Plaintiff’s money to pay for medication which he refused, to
pay duplicate booking fees, and to pay old debts. See id. at 7–9. The Court
noted in its screening order that Plaintiff had not named the Racine officials
responsible for this alleged misconduct. Id. at 9. However, the Court ordered
service on Schmaling, who is the warden at Racine, so that Plaintiff could
seek discovery from him as to the identities of the appropriate individuals.
Id. at 10–11.
Schmaling has now been served and has answered the complaint, so
the Court will set a deadline for Plaintiff to conduct discovery as to the
identities of the proper defendants in this case and amend his complaint
accordingly. Plaintiff shall file an amended complaint in this case no later
than Friday, April 14, 2017 which names the proper defendants in this case.
Plaintiff should be aware that Civil Local Rule 15 (E.D. Wis.) requires that
“[a]ny amendment to a pleading. . .must reproduce the entire pleading as
amended, and may not incorporate any prior pleading by reference.” Civil L. R.
15(a) (E.D. Wis.) (emphasis added). A copy of Civil Local Rule 15 (E.D. Wis.)
is included with this order.
Between now and then, Plaintiff may use the discovery methods
provided in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to request from Schmaling
the information he needs to identify the proper defendants. Plaintiff is
instructed that such discovery requests must be served on Schmaling by mail
or other means of delivery. Simply filing discovery requests with the Court,
either electronically or by mail, will not qualify as service of those requests
pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Additionally, the Court
cautions Plaintiff that any discovery requests served on Schmaling should at
this time be limited to the issue of identifying the individuals responsible for
the conduct at issue in Plaintiff’s remaining claims. Schmaling should be
cooperative in responding to discovery requests he receives from Plaintiff.
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If the proper defendants in this action are not identified by April 14,
2017, this action will be dismissed without further notice. The Court warns
Plaintiff that no extensions of this deadline will be granted.
Plaintiff’s Requests for Injunctive Relief Regarding Medications
Plaintiff has filed a motion for preliminary injunctive relief against
Racine officials, alleging that he continues to be punished for refusing to take
blood pressure medication. (Docket #7). He claims that recently, when he has
refused to take this medication, he has been placed on suicide watch. Id.
Schmaling filed a response, arguing that each recent instance of placing
Plaintiff on suicide watch was justified. (Docket #12 at 3–4). Schmaling
further asserts that the motion should be denied as moot, since Racine
correctional officials and medical staff have not placed Plaintiff on suicide
watch since December 27, 2016. Id. at 3–5. Plaintiff filed a reply, which he
mistakenly captioned as a separate motion. (Docket #15). In his reply,
Plaintiff contends that the issues raised in the motion are not moot, since he
could be placed on suicide watch again at any time. Id. at 1. Further, he
argues that a preliminary injunction against Racine staff is necessary to
prevent future punishment for his failure to take medications. Id. at 5–6.
Plaintiff’s motion must be denied, for his submissions do not meet the
high threshold required for the entry of preliminary injunctive relief. To
obtain a preliminary injunction, Plaintiff must show that: (1) he is likely to
succeed on the merits; (2) he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence
of preliminary relief; (3) the balance of equities tips in his favor; and (4) an
injunction is in the public interest. D.U. v. Rhoades, 825 F.3d 331, 335 (7th Cir.
2016). A preliminary injunction is “an extraordinary remedy and is never
awarded as of right.” Knox v. Shearing, 637 F. App’x 226, 228 (7th Cir. 2016).
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To meet this burden, Plaintiff must make a “clear showing that [he] is entitled
to such relief.” Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 22 (2008).
Here, Plaintiff has not shown even a minimal likelihood of success on
the merits of his case or that the irreparable harm he fears—additional
punishment—is likely to occur in the absence of Court intervention. Plaintiff’s
unverified accusations of retribution and citation to Biblical principles do not
carry his burden on either element. Moreover, the balance of equities weighs
strongly against affording the relief he seeks. As a general rule the Court does
not interfere in matters of prison administration and inmate medical care
through preliminary injunctive relief. In fact, Congress has expressly
cautioned against it. The Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (“PLRA”)
provides that in considering the need for preliminary injunctive relief, “[t]he
court shall give substantial weight to any adverse impact on public safety or
the operation of a criminal justice system caused by the preliminary relief[.]”
18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(2); see also Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 467 (1983)
(“[P]rison officials have broad administrative and discretionary authority
over the institutions they manage.”).
The record is sparse as to what precipitated each instance of Plaintiff’s
placement on suicide watch. It appears that on at least one occasion, Plaintiff
himself requested it. (Docket #12 at 4). Schmaling provides evidence that the
other occasions were premised on the decision of jail medical staff that
Plaintiff’s untreated high blood pressure—which at times is as high as
210/140—was creating a substantial risk to his health. Id. Under these
circumstances, the Court is inclined to defer to prison officials, particularly
in matters of medical judgment. Plaintiff’s concerns simply do not justify an
extreme interference by the Court into prison administration before the
adjudication of the merits of his claim. Christian Legal Soc’y v. Walker, 453 F.3d
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853, 859 (7th Cir. 2006) (a court must “exercise its discretion to determine
whether the balance of harms weighs in favor of the moving party or whether
the nonmoving party or public interest will be harmed sufficiently that the
injunction should be denied”); Graham v. Medical Mut. of Ohio, 130 F.3d 293,
296 (7th Cir. 1997) (“Irreparable harm is harm which cannot be repaired,
retrieved, put down again, atoned for. The injury must be of a particular
nature, so that compensation in money cannot atone for it.”).
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s motion for order regarding his
medications (Docket #7) be and the same is hereby DENIED; and
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff shall file an amended
complaint naming the proper defendants in this case no later than Friday,
April 14, 2017. Failure to comply with this order will result in dismissal of
this action without further notice.
Dated at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this 21st day of February, 2017.
BY THE COURT:
U.S. District Judge
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