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Law v. Gripe

United States District Court, E.D. California

November 20, 2017

GRIPE, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in an action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, has filed two “emergency motion(s) for immediate injunction” (ECF Nos. 41 & 44) and a motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 48). Defendants have filed oppositions to these motions. ECF Nos. 49 & 53. Plaintiff has filed replies. ECF Nos. 54 & 55. Defendants have filed a motion to strike plaintiff's reply to their opposition to his summary judgment motion. ECF No. 67. For the reasons discussed below, it is recommended that each motion be denied.

         I. Motions for Immediate Injunction

         A. Legal Standards

         Injunctive relief - either temporary or permanent - is an “extraordinary remedy, never awarded as of right.” Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, 555 U.S. 7, 22 (2008). The Supreme Court has held that:

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.

Id. at 20. Additionally, “[a] federal court may issue an injunction if it has personal jurisdiction over the parties and subject matter jurisdiction over the claim; it may not attempt to determine the rights of persons not before the court.” Zepeda v. United States Immigration & Naturalization Service, 753 F.2d 719, 727 (9th Cir. 1983).

         B. Background

         In his motions, plaintiff alleges that he is in immediate danger as a result of: (1) receiving inadequate medical care; (2) defendants telling other inmates he is a “snitch”; (3) sexual assault by non-defendant prison staff; (4) non-defendant prison staff's refusal to provide him meals; and (5) non-defendant prison staff interfering with his administrative appeals. ECF Nos. 41 & 44. In his first motion, he asks the court to order his transfer out of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. ECF No. 41 at 2. Plaintiff states that, if necessary, he is willing to serve his sentence in federal custody. Id. In his second motion, plaintiff asks the court to order defendants to explain why he is not being provided with medical care. ECF No. 44 at 3. He also requests that the court take some unspecified action to protect him from the retaliation and abuse being perpetrated against him by both defendant and non-defendant staff at California Medical Facility. Id.

         C. Analysis

         The underlying claims in this suit are that plaintiff was sexually assaulted by defendant Rubino on June 24, 2016 and that defendant Gripe denied him medical care for the injuries sustained in that assault. ECF No. 8 at 1-2; ECF No. 32 at 3. The Ninth Circuit has not spoken directly to the issue of whether a motion for injunctive relief must bear some relationship to the allegations in the plaintiff's complaint. Other circuits, in language this court finds persuasive, have held that a plaintiff seeking injunctive relief must establish “a relationship between the injury claimed in the party's motion and the conduct asserted in the complaint.” See Devose v. Herrington, 42 F.3d 470, 471 (8th Cir. 1994); see also Little v. Jones, 607 F.3d 1245, 1251 (10th Cir. 2010); Colvin v. Caruso, 605 F.3d 282, 299-300 (6th Cir. 2010); Omega World Travel, Inc. v. Trans World Airlines, 111 F.3d 14, 16 (4th Cir. 1997). To hold otherwise would require an aggressive and impracticable expansion of the scope of this litigation. As such, this court concludes that it cannot order injunctive relief based on allegations that: (1) defendants labelled him a ‘snitch'; (2) a separate, unrelated sexual assault was perpetrated against him by non-defendants; (3) that prison staff has declined to provide him with meals or; (4) that staff has interfered with his administrative appeals. These claims, if plaintiff elects to pursue them, should be brought in separate actions.

         The court turns to the lone relating claim - that he is receiving inadequate medical care for injuries sustained during Rubino's alleged sexual assault. Plaintiff has not provided any evidence that he will actually suffer irreparable harm if his motion is not granted. He fails to allege, for instance, the precise inadequacies in his medical care or the exact relief he would have the court fashion if it were to rule in his favor. The court recognizes that plaintiff has requested that the court order defendants to explain why he is being denied adequate care. ECF No. 44 at 3. But defendants have already denied plaintiff's inadequate care allegations by way of their answer to his complaint - which was filed after plaintiff's second motion for preliminary injunction. ECF No. 46. Additionally, they have filed an opposition wherein they deny inadequacies in plaintiff's care. ECF No. 53. Attached to that motion is an affidavit from C. Teng - plaintiff's primary care physician - which states that, at a July 31, 2017 examination, plaintiff appeared in good spirits and did not report any injuries. Id. at 10. The court sees no utility in directing defendants to explain shortcomings which they deny exist and which plaintiff has not provided any evidence of. Finally, injunctive relief is precluded by the fact that plaintiff has not demonstrated that he is likely to succeed on the merits of his claims.[1]

         Based on the foregoing, the court recommends that both motions for preliminary injunctive relief be denied.

         II. Motion for ...

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