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Tate v. Lynch

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

June 13, 2013

CARL TATE, Plaintiff,
v.
MS. LYNCH, TARRY WILLIAMS, SANDRA FUNK, S.A. GODINEZ, And DR. LOUIS SHICKER, Defendants.

OPINION

SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, District Judge.

Plaintiff, incarcerated in Western Illinois Correctional Center ("Western"), alleges that she is a transgender inmate who suffers from serious mental health disorders. Plaintiff alleges that her placement at Western puts her at a serious risk of physical and mental harm. She seeks a transfer out of Western Illinois Correctional Center for her safety and mental health, preferably to Dixon Correctional Center or any other medium security prison besides Pontiac, Galesburg, or Lawrence Correctional Center.

The Court denied Plaintiff's first motion for preliminary injunction on March 21, 2013. Plaintiff appealed that ruling to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and then filed in this Court what has been construed as a second motion for preliminary injunction. The Court appointed pro bono counsel for Plaintiff and held a hearing on Plaintiff's second preliminary injunction motion on April 17th, 18th, and 30th, 2013. Plaintiff's appointed counsel appeared by video conference from Urbana, Illinois. Defense counsel appeared in person. Witnesses appeared by video conference from various locations, and Plaintiff appeared by video conference from Western Illinois Correctional Center. Briefing on the preliminary injunction concluded May 15, 2013.

As explained in more detail below, Plaintiff's second motion for a preliminary injunction will be denied, primarily because the evidence does not support Plaintiff's belief that she will be any safer at a different prison. The administrators at Western Illinois Correctional Center have responded diligently to Plaintiff's safety concerns and have taken substantial steps to protect Plaintiff. Plaintiff's current therapist at Western appears to genuinely care about Plaintiff's mental health and is providing biweekly therapy. On this record, transferring Plaintiff out of Western Illinois Correctional Center could make the situation worse for Plaintiff, not better.

Ultimately, Plaintiff may be able to establish that a systemic change in the way transgender inmates are housed in the Illinois Department of Corrections is required to avoid deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's safety and serious mental health needs. Plaintiff may also be able to establish that the refusal to provide Plaintiff with treatment for her gender identity disorder amounts to deliberate indifference to her serious mental or medical needs. However, those larger questions are not now before the Court. The only issue presently before the Court is Plaintiff's request for a transfer out of Western Illinois Correctional Center which will be denied.

LEGAL STANDARD

"[A] preliminary injunction is an exercise of a very far-reaching power, never to be indulged in except in a case clearly demanding it." Girl Scouts of Manitou Council, Inc. v. Girl Scouts of U.S. of America , 549 F.3d 1079, 1085 (7th Cir. 2008)(quoted cites and internal quotation marks omitted). "To win a preliminary injunction, a party must show that it has (1) no adequate remedy at law and will suffer irreparable harm if a preliminary injunction is denied and (2) some likelihood of success on the merits.'" ACLU v. Alvarez , 679 F.3d 583, (7th Cir. 2012)(quoted cite omitted). After this threshold showing, the potential harms to the parties and public are weighed. Id.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(d) requires an order granting an injunction to state the reasons therefore and to state with specificity the acts required. Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(d)(1). 18 U.S.C. ยง 3626(a)(2) of the Prison Litigation Reform Act imposes additional requirements for preliminary injunctions dealing with prison conditions:

(2)... Preliminary injunctive relief must be narrowly drawn, extend no further than necessary to correct the harm the court finds requires preliminary relief, and be the least intrusive means necessary to correct that harm. The 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 and shall respect the principles of comity.... Section 3626(a)(2) "enforces a point repeatedly made by the

Supreme Court in cases challenging prison conditions: [P]rison officials have broad administrative and discretionary authority over the institutions they manage.'" Westefer v. Neal, et al. , 682 F.3d 679, 683 (7th Cir. 2012)(reversing district court's injunction ordering specific procedures before an inmate's transfer to a supermax prison). On the other hand, "[c]ourts may not allow constitutional violations to continue simply because a remedy would involve intrusion into the realm of prison administration." Brown v. Plata , 131 S.Ct. 1910, 1928-29 (2011)(affirming three-judge district court order directing California to reduce its prison population to 137.5% of capacity).

FACTS

The following facts are found for purposes of this order only.

Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in Western Illinois Correctional Center. Plaintiff contends that she is a transgender individual. She feels, in her words, like a woman trapped inside a man's body. This condition is described in the DSM-IV as gender identity disorder. American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 576-582 (4th ed. 2000).[1] Defendants dispute whether Plaintiff actually has gender identity disorder, but Plaintiff has presented sufficient evidence for the Court to conclude that she does.

Plaintiff was a People's gang member before her incarceration. In fact, the reason Plaintiff is incarcerated is because she murdered another gang member. However, Plaintiff testified that she is no longer affiliated with that gang. According to Plaintiff, her former gang does not allow gay or transgender members. Plaintiff maintains that she was raped in Pontiac prison in December 2010 as punishment by a gang member because the gang perceived Plaintiff as an embarrassment. The alleged rape is the subject of another pending case by Plaintiff, Tate v. Moore, 12-CV-1402 (C.D. Ill., Peoria Division). Plaintiff testified ...


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