United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
ALLISON CLAIRE, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff, a 73-year-old state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On March 17, 2014, plaintiff filed a motion for a preliminary injunction/emergency restraining order to prevent his transfer to another institution during the pendency of the instant action. ECF No. 34.
I. FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT
The gravamen of plaintiff's first amended complaint, on which this action proceeds, is that plaintiff was subjected to a retaliatory transfer from Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP) in April of 2013, and to deliberate indifference to his serious medical conditions at both MCSP and Valley State Prison (VSP). He alleges that he was transferred from MCSP to VSP in retaliation for filing lawsuits and submitting complaints about poor medical care at Mule Creek. He also claims that his transfer occurred one day before his scheduled left shoulder replacement surgery was to be performed. In addition, he has been thwarted for nearly three years in his effort to receive surgeries for his left shoulder condition and for a hernia which is "a life-threatening condition" for which surgery has been recommended by two physicians. In addition, plaintiff was transferred from MCSP ongoing cancer treatments and monitoring he was receiving for "severe prostate cancer."
At VSP, plaintiff's left shoulder surgery has not been re-scheduled despite the diagnoses of two orthopedic surgeons that plaintiff required a "total left shoulder replacement." His surgery has been denied without any examination by VSP physicians. Plaintiff's pain medication has also been cancelled at VSP. Plaintiff seeks both monetary damages and injunctive relief in the form of appropriate medical treatment. See First Amended Complaint, ECF No. 21.
The court has previously determined that plaintiff has stated cognizable claims for relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) as follows: (1) for retaliation in the form of an adverse transfer against MCSP defendants: B. Kissel; J. Soltanian; C. Thomas; K. Costa; J. Sherrard;C. Heintschel; and L. Reaves; and (2) for deliberate indifference to serious medical conditions against (a) MCSP defendants Soltanian; C. Smith; S. Heatley; and (b) Valley State Prison (VSP) defendants K. Toor; K. Malakka; P. Virk; T. Neal. See Screening Order (ECF No. 24) filed on 11/21/13.
II. MOTION FOR IMMEDIATE INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
In his present motion for emergency injunctive relief, plaintiff alleges that he is on the verge of what he characterizes as another retaliatory transfer. ECF No. 34. Just as he contends that his past transfer from MCSP to VSP was predicated on his wrongful designation as medically "high risk, " he alleges that his imminent transfer from VSP is also based on improper medical classification as "high risk." Id. at 4, 11, 14. Plaintiff alleges that these classifications have been fabricated to support transfers that are actually motivated by a desire to be rid of elderly "litigators." Plaintiff now does not wish to leave VSP, where he is functioning well and has been attempting to secure the shoulder surgery and other medical treatment at issue on his Eighth Amendment claims. No surgery is scheduled, and plaintiff identifies no medical treatment that will be terminated or disrupted by the anticipated transfer. He contends that CDCR wishes to transfer him "for a bogus reason both to avoid the expense of surgery and of further lawsuits such as this one." ECF No. 34 at 13.
Plaintiff points out that the March 4, 2014 classification chrono designating him as "high risk, " and allegedly intended to support his transfer, is signed by a defendant in this action, K. Toor. Plaintiff alleges that he refused to see defendant Toor on several occasions because of the poor treatment he had received from Toor. He claims that at one point, and before defendant Toor had been served with this action, he told Toor's nurse that Toor was a defendant in a federal lawsuit. On January 22, 2014, plaintiff was interviewed in the mental health clinic having been referred there by defendant Toor for refusing to see him. Five days later defendant Toor issued the "high risk" classification. Plaintiff argues that if the new classification were valid, it would have been issued earlier. ECF No. 34 at 15.
Plaintiff also avers that many inmates who are physically and mobility impaired are not being transferred as "high risk" medical. Id . He declares that his allegedly impending transfer is retaliatory and "age-related" and that such a transfer will cause irreparable damage because he now has an acute fear of filing lawsuits against the prison system for constitutional violations. Id . That is, he contends that it will chill the exercise of his right of access to the courts.
III. LEGAL STANDARDS FOR EMERGENCY/IMMEDIATE INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
A. Temporary Restraining Order The purpose in issuing a temporary restraining order is to preserve the status quo pending a fuller hearing. The cases contain limited discussion of the standards for issuing a temporary restraining order, due to the fact that very few such orders can be appealed prior to the hearing on a preliminary injunction. It is apparent, however, that requests for temporary restraining orders which are not ex parte and without notice are governed by the same general standards that govern the issuance of a preliminary injunction. See New Motor Vehicle Bd. v. Orrin W. Fox Co. , 434 U.S. 1345, 1347 n.2, 98 S.Ct. 359 (1977) (Rehnquist, J.); Los Angeles Unified Sch. Dist. v. United States Dist. Court , 650 F.2d 1004, 1008 (9th Cir. 1981) (Ferguson, J. dissenting); Century Time Ltd. v. Interchron Ltd. , 729 F.Supp. 366, 368 (S.D.N.Y. 1990). In many cases the emphasis of the court is directed to irreparable harm and the balance of hardships because the merits of a controversy are often difficult to ascertain and adjudicate on short notice.
B. Preliminary Injunction
"A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy'... never awarded as of right." Munaf v. Geren , 553 U.S. 674, 689-90 (2008) (internal citations omitted). "A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest." Am. Trucking Ass'n, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles , 559 F.3d 1046, 1052 (9th Cir.2009) (quoting Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc. , 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008)). A preliminary injunction is appropriate when a plaintiff demonstrates... "serious questions going to the merits and a hardship balance ...