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Clark v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 29, 2018

RAMON CLARK, Plaintiff,
v.
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., DR. SHAH, DR. SANTOS, DR. GARCIA, LISA CREBS, DEBORAH ZELASKO, ROBERT MUELLER, SHERRY BENTON, MICHAEL D. SCOTT, and WARDEN OF PINCKNEYVILLE CORRECTIONCAL CENTER Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          MICHAEL J. REAGAN, United States District Court Chief Judge.

         On November 21, 2016, Plaintiff Ramon Clark filed suit alleging Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claims against Defendants. On April 10, 2017, Clark filed a motion for temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction (Doc. 36). Defendants filed responses on April 24, 2017 (Docs. 37, 38), and Clark replied on May 1, 2017 (Doc. 39). Magistrate Judge Stephen C. Williams held an evidentiary hearing on September 22, 2017, and later ordered supplemental briefing by the parties. Following the supplemental briefing, Judge Williams issued a report and recommendation (Doc. 118) recommending that the undersigned deny Clark's motion. Clark timely filed objections (Doc. 122) to which Defendants responded (Doc. 123).

         Timely objections having been filed, the Court undertakes de novo review of the portions to the Report to which Plaintiff specifically objected. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); SDIL-LR 73.1(b). The undersigned can accept, reject, or modify Magistrate Judge Williams' recommendations, receive further evidence, or recommit the matter with instructions. Id. For the reasons stated below, the Court ADOPTS Magistrate Judge Williams' recommendations and DENIES Clark's motion for a temporary restraining order and for a preliminary injunction.

         Background

         As narrowed by the Court's threshold order (Doc. 5), Clark alleges that he was denied proper medical care for mass on his left testicle while incarcerated at both Pinckneyville Correctional Center and Centralia Correctional Center. While at Pinckneyville, Clark first complained about what he described as a painful mass on his left testicle. He notified medical staff to request a diagnosis. He met with a nurse who confirmed that there was a lump and who recommended an ultrasound. Wexford, however, did not approve the ultrasound. A doctor, identified as John Doe, scheduled Clark for a follow-up appointment. At the appointment, the John Doe doctor identified the mass and noted that it might be epididymitis, which is a swelling of the tube that connects the testicle with the vas deferens, and that it was not cancerous. The doctor determined that treatment was not necessary and scheduled Clark for a follow-up appointment. On May 4, 2016, before the appointment, Clark was transferred to Centralia Correctional Center.

         Clark notified the medical staff at Centralia about the mass and saw Dr. Shah on May 8, 2016. Shah denied a request by Clark for pain medication and scheduled another follow-up appointment. Clark filed an emergency grievance regarding what he viewed as a lack of medical care. The grievance was expedited, but the grievance officer concluded that Clark's medical condition was being addressed by the medical staff.

         After his grievance was denied, Clark notified the medical staff that he was having radiating pain through his left leg due to the mass. He met with Dr. Santos, who confirmed that the mass was present and also identified it as epididymitis. As a result, he prescribed no treatment, recommending that Clark masturbate to alleviate the pain and tenderness. On August 17, 2016, Clark again complained about pain and was seen by Dr. Garcia, who suspected that Clark had an infection. Dr. Garcia prescribed an antibiotic and scheduled a follow-up ultrasound if the antibiotic did not work.

         According to Clark, the antibiotic was ineffective, so he went to see Dr. Santos again about his pain. Dr. Santos allegedly told Clark that he did not know why Dr. Garcia had prescribed an antibiotic or ordered an ultrasound. On September 20, 2016, Clark saw Dr. Santos again and learned that Wexford denied the request for an ultrasound. Santos refused Clark's request for pain medication that day and again on October 6, 2016, prompting Clark to file suit alleging deliberate indifference to his medical needs.

         Since filing suit, Clark has continued to be seen by Dr. Santos and Dr. Garcia. In January 2017, Dr. Santos gave Clark 200 mg of ibuprofen for his pain. On January 25, 2017, Dr. Garcia prescribed additional ibuprofen and a muscle relaxer. He also scheduled an ultrasound. Clark received an ultrasound on February 9, 2017. He learned that he did not have cancer but did have a benign cyst from Dr. Santos on February 17, 2017. After his diagnosis, however, Clark maintains that the medical staff refuses to adequately treat his pain. Defendants counter that Clark has a small epididymal cyst measuring approximately 6mm. They are monitoring his condition for changes, but the cysts are typically painless and require no medical treatment, except in rare cases when they increase in size or decrease blood flow to the penis. As no complications have been identified through monitoring, Defendants posit that removal is unnecessary at this time.

         Legal Standards

         As the review of the motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction is de novo, the Court conducts an “independent review of the evidence and arguments without giving any presumptive weight to the magistrate judge's conclusion, ” and “is free, and encouraged, to consider all of the available information about the case when making this independent decision.” Mendez v. Republic Bank, 725 F.3d 651, 661 (7th Cir. 2013).

         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)(emphasis in original). Accord Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008) (“A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy never awarded as of right”)(citation omitted). To secure a preliminary injunction, the movant must show (1) that he is likely to succeed on the merits, (2) that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm without the injunction, (3) that the harm he would suffer is greater than the harm a preliminary injunction would inflict on defendants, and (4) that the injunction is in the public interest. Judge v. Quinn, 612 F.3d 537, 546 (7th Cir. 2010)(citing Winter, 555 U.S. at 20). The “considerations are interdependent: the greater the likelihood of success on the merits, the less net harm the injunction must prevent in order for preliminary relief to be warranted.” Judge, 612 F.3d at 546. (citation omitted)

         In the context of prisoner litigation, there are further restrictions on courts' remedial power. The scope of the court's authority to enter an injunction in the corrections context is circumscribed by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). Westefer v. Neal, 682 F.3d 679, 683 (7th Cir. 2012). Under the PLRA, preliminary injunction 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.” 18 U.S.C. §3626(a)(2). See also Westefer, 682 F.3d at 683 (“[T]he PLRA enforces a point repeatedly made by the Supreme Court in cases challenging prison conditions: prison officials have broad administrative and discretionary authority over the institutions they manage.”)(internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         The Seventh Circuit has described injunctions like the one sought here, where an injunction would require an affirmative act by the defendant, as a mandatory preliminary injunction. Graham v. Med. Mut. of Ohio, 130 F.3d 293, 295 (7th Cir. 1997). Mandatory injunctions are “cautiously viewed and sparingly issued, ” since they require the court to command a defendant to take a particular action. Id. (citing Jordan v. ...


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