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Petrakis v. Thompson

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 24, 2019

MATTHEW J. PETRAKIS, #B19052, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTT THOMPSON, CHRISTINE BROWN, PERCY MYERS, and ROB JEFFREYS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         On May 31, 2019, in addition to his original Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff Matthew J. Petrakis filed a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction (Doc. 2). Petrakis asks the Court to order Defendants to accommodate his hearing disability by providing someone to wake him up each morning for breakfast or delivering to his cell a food tray. (Doc. 2, p. 2).

         An Order was entered on June 4, 2019, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915A, setting forth the claims that Petrakis's hearing loss has caused him to miss meals in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Rehabilitation Act (“RA”) (Count 1); and that Defendants Brown and Thompson exhibited deliberate indifference to Petrakis's serious medical needs regarding his hearing loss and inability to hear meal calls in violation of the Eighth Amendment (Count 2). (Doc. 7, p. 4). The Court denied the request for a temporary restraining order and directed Defendants to respond to his request for a preliminary injunction (Doc. 7, p. 9; Doc. 11).

         On July 2, 2019, the Court granted Petrakis's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint (Doc. 25) and reviewed the First Amended Complaint pursuant to Section 1915A. The First Amended Complaint brought identical claims against Defendants Baldwin, Brown, and Thompson and so Counts 1 and 2 survived screening. (Doc. 23, p. 2). Petrakis also added an Eighth Amendment claim against an additional defendant, Dr. Percy Myers, for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs regarding his hearing loss by refusing to issue him lower bunk and lower gallery permits. (Doc. 25, pp. 8-9). The Court designated this claim as Count 3, which also survived preliminary review. (Doc. 23, p. 2). A responsive pleading by Dr. Myers is not due until September 3, 2019.

         Defendants Jeffreys, [1] Brown, and Thompson filed a response to the Motion for Preliminary Injunction on July 8, 2019 (Doc. 27). The Court held a hearing on the Motion on July 22, 2019.

         Background

         The First Amended Complaint alleges that Petrakis has had trouble hearing since childhood, but his condition has worsened. (Doc. 25, p. 5). On January 18, 2019, he failed a hearing test and was scheduled to see an audiologist for further testing. During his hearing test appointment, he informed a nurse that he could not hear the calls for chow-lines, gym, yard, and dayroom, as well as other notices given over the intercom system. And, because he sleeps on one ear, he never hears the call in the morning for breakfast. Id. At his audiologist appointment on March 13, 2019, the audiogram confirmed that he has 90% hearing loss in his right ear and 68% hearing loss in his left ear; two hearing aids were ordered. Id.

         Following the appointment, Petrakis wrote the ADA Coordinator and Health Care Unit Administrator at Pinckneyville, Christine Brown, informing her that he could not hear the calls for meals and as a result had not been eating. Id. pp. 5-6. He did not receive a response, and so he filed an emergency grievance on April 3, 2019, requesting an alarm watch to alert him at meal times. Id. p. 6. His grievance was determined to be an emergency, and he was called to the Health Care Unit on April 8, 2019, to meet with Brown. Brown informed Petrakis that she does not normally order aids such as an alarm watch, because he was receiving hearing aids and had accused Petrakis of “crying to someone.” Petrakis said that he was still in need of the alarm watch because once he receives the hearing aids he will not sleep with them and will need to be alerted in the morning for breakfast. Petrakis also asked if there was something she could do to ensure that he was able to eat to which Brown responded, “‘No, I[']m ordering your watch and that[‘]s all I can do.'” Id. Petrakis's emergency grievance was then denied because Brown told the Grievance Officers that he had received his hearing aids and that the issue was resolved, although Petrakis had yet to receive the hearing aids. Id. p. 7.

         On April 19, 2019, Petrakis spoke with Warden Thompson regarding his grievance and the lack of accommodations for his hearing loss. Thompson told Petrakis that there was nothing he could do. Petrakis filed two more grievances, which were also denied. Id. p. 8.

         Petrakis alleges that despite his repeated requests, the administration has failed to accommodate his disability and ensure that he is able to eat at meal times. Id. p. 9; Doc. 2, p. 2. He claims that he has lost eleven pounds as a result of missing so many meals. (Doc. 25, p. 9).

         In their response (Doc. 27), Defendants argue that Petrakis cannot obtain injunctive relief because he is currently a member of the class action in Holmes v. Godinez, No. 11-cv-02961 (N.D. Ill. 2015). In that case, deaf and hearing impaired inmates brought a class action against the director of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) under the ADA, RA, and Section 1983 seeking declaratory and injunctive relief alleging that IDOC denied inmates hearing accommodations as to intercom systems, emergency alerts, job opportunities, and medical services. Id. at p. 4. Defendants state that Petrakis is a member of the class according to the definition established by the Northern District of Illinois. Petrakis cannot opt out of the class action as the members were certified under Federal Rules 23(b)(2), and thus he is bound by the class. Id. at p. 5. Because the Motion seeks the same type of relief as the class action, Defendants argue that Petrakis cannot pursue a separate preliminary injunction in this case.

         Defendants also claim that Petrakis has not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits or that he will suffer irreparable harm. Petrakis has been continuously seen and treated for his condition since he made officials at Pinckneyville aware of his hearing impairment. Id. at p. 6. Petrakis has received a hard of hearing placard (“HOH placard”) placed above his cell, two of the medical devices requested-hearing aids and headphones-and an alarm watch has been ordered. Although Petrakis claims he is consistently missing breakfast, Defendants argue that this cannot be true because security staff at Pinckneyville are instructed to wake inmates with HOH placards, and he has a cellmate who also attends meal calls and has notified him of these calls in the past.

         Analysis

          A preliminary injunction is an “extraordinary and drastic remedy” for which there must be a “clear showing” that a plaintiff is entitled to relief. Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972 (1997) (quoting 11A Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R Miller, & Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure §2948 (5th ed. 1995)). The purpose of such an injunction is “to minimize the hardship to the parties pending the ultimate resolution ...


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