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Hicks v. Hamkar

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 25, 2017

MICHAEL J. HICKS, Plaintiff,
BEHROZ HAMKAR, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Before the court is plaintiff's motion for injunctive relief. (ECF No. 93.) The court will recommend denial of plaintiff's motion without prejudice to its renewal with current information on his medical care.


         This case is proceeding on plaintiff's second amended complaint (“SAC”) filed on September 14, 2015. (ECF No. 51.) Plaintiff alleges defendants Hamkar, Venes, Yeboah, Sayre, Zamora, and Nangalama failed to appropriately treat the pain he suffers as a result of a degenerative disk disease and bone spurring in his lower neck.

         In December 2015, defendants moved to dismiss the SAC. On October 6, 2016, the undersigned found plaintiff failed to state a cognizable § 1983 claim against any defendant and recommended the motions to dismiss be granted. (ECF No. 92.) Plaintiff objected to that recommendation. On October 14, 2016, plaintiff filed the present motion for injunctive relief. (ECF No. 93.) Plaintiff contends the prison continues to provide inadequate treatment for his pain. He seeks a transfer to a prison that can provide him cervical traction on a regular basis.

         On July 21, 2017, District Judge Mueller granted in part and denied in part the motions to dismiss. (ECF No. 103.) Judge Mueller found plaintiff stated cognizable Eighth Amendment claims.


         Plaintiff seeks a court order requiring the prison to transfer him to a facility that can accommodate his need for regular cervical traction to treat his pain. (ECF No. 93.)

         A party requesting preliminary injunctive relief must show 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.” Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008). The propriety of a request for injunctive relief hinges on a significant threat of irreparable injury that must be imminent in nature. Caribbean Marine Serv. Co. v. Baldrige, 844 F.2d 668, 674 (9th Cir. 1988).

         Alternatively, under the so-called sliding scale approach, as long as the plaintiff demonstrates the requisite likelihood of irreparable harm and can show that an injunction is in the public interest, a preliminary injunction may issue so long as serious questions going to the merits of the case are raised and the balance of hardships tips sharply in plaintiff's favor. Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Cottrell, 632 F.3d 1127, 1131-36 (9th Cir. 2011) (concluding that the “serious questions” version of the sliding scale test for preliminary injunctions remains viable after Winter).

         The principal purpose of preliminary injunctive relief is to preserve the court's power to render a meaningful decision after a trial on the merits. See 9 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2947 (3d ed. 2014). Implicit in this required showing is that the relief awarded is only temporary and there will be a full hearing on the merits of the claims raised in the injunction when the action is brought to trial. Preliminary injunctive relief is not appropriate until the court finds that the plaintiff's complaint presents cognizable claims. See Zepeda v. United States Immigration Serv., 753 F.2d 719, 727 (9th Cir. 1985) (“A federal court may issue an injunction if it has personal jurisdiction over the parties and subject matter jurisdiction over the claims . . . .”).

         In cases brought by prisoners involving conditions of confinement, any preliminary injunction “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). Further, an injunction against individuals not parties to an action is strongly disfavored. See Zenith Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research, Inc., 395 U.S. 100, 110 (1969) (“It is elementary that one is not bound by a judgment . . . resulting from litigation in which he is not designated as a party . . . .”).[1]

         This court reserved ruling on plaintiff's motion for injunctive relief until resolution of the motion to dismiss. Now that the district judge has ruled that plaintiff stated cognizable claims for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, this court may consider plaintiff's motion for an injunction. The problem, however, is that over nine months have passed since plaintiff filed his motion. Because plaintiff is seeking specific medical care, the court should not consider his request without knowing what care he is currently receiving. For these reasons, the court will recommend denial of plaintiff's motion without prejudice. If the district judge adopts that recommendation, plaintiff may file a renewed motion, with current medical information.

         Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY RECOMMENDED that plaintiff's October 14, 2016 (ECF No. 93) motion for an ...

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