United States District Court, D. Delaware
JOHN T. BROTHERS, III, Plaintiff,
DR. LYNCH, et al., Defendants.
John T. Brothers, III, a prisoner incarcerated at the James
T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware, commenced
this action on December 21, 2015, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. On March 10, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion for
injunctive relief seeking a different housing assignment on
the grounds that he is disabled, and his current housing
assignment does not accommodate him. (D.I. 35).
preliminary injunction is "an extraordinary remedy that
should be granted only if: (1) the plaintiff is likely to
succeed on the merits; (2) denial will result in irreparable
harm to the plaintiff; (3) granting the injunction will not
result in irreparable harm to the defendant; and (4) granting
the injunction is in the public interest."
NutraSweet Co. v. Vit-Mar Enterprises, Inc., 176
F.3d 151, 153 (3d Cir. 1999). "[F]ailure to establish
any element in [a plaintiffs] favor renders a preliminary
injunction inappropriate." Id. Furthermore,
because of the intractable problems of prison administration,
a request for injunctive relief in the prison context must be
viewed with considerable caution. Rush v. Correctional
Med. Services, Inc., 287 F.App'x 142, 144 (3d Cir.
2008) (citing Goff v. Harper, 60 F.3d 518, 520 (8th
states that he has chronic headaches and frequent dizziness
and vertigo due to traumatic brain injuries. He uses a cane
to walk. Plaintiff states that with his current housing
assignment he is expected to walk too far to get to the chow
hall and this causes him terrible pain, noting that on March
7, 2017 he was denied dinner because he could not make the
walk. Plaintiff complains that staff will not bring food to
him, that the shower does not have railings, he cannot use
the bathroom or take a shower without much difficulty and
danger, and there are "all kinds of tripping
hazards" in his housing area. He also complains that
inmates are not considerate of his injuries and he is bumped
into and knocked around quite a bit.
is assigned a bottom bunk. Administration told him it had
been assured there were no medical issues with plaintiffs
current housing assignment so long as he is assigned to a
bottom bunk. Plaintiff states that "many medical
employees" have told him that he should be assigned to a
housing unit for inmates with medical needs. Plaintiff
anticipates that his incarceration will end in four months.
records indicate that plaintiff was evaluated by a
neurologist on March 9, 2017. (D.I. 37-1 at 16). Plaintiff
relayed the physical difficulties he had, and indicated that
he did not want to live in the infirmary and had heard about
"the T building which is for people that can't move
around well." (Id.) The note states that
"if MD has documented restrictions will then put in memo
requesting more handicapped housing." (Id.)
Scarborough, VCC Deputy Warden, provided a declaration
stating that Plaintiff has been medically evaluated and there
has been no recommendation to change Plaintiffs housing
location. (D.I. 38). Scarborough states that moving Plaintiff
to the T-Building, not only changes his housing assignment,
but would also change his classification. (Id.).
Inmate housing assignments fall under the purview of the
wardens or their designees (such as the multi disciplinary
team). Scarborough states that Plaintiff has an extensive
disciplinary history and is a challenge to manage in any
housing unit other than maximum security. (Id.).
According to Scarborough, housing Plaintiff in a dormitory
will place staff, and any inmate assigned there who has
physical or mental limitations or vulnerabilities, at
unnecessary risk. (Id.). Scarborough relates
numerous incidents in 2016 when Plaintiff was placed on
disciplinary report for his failure to obey prison rules and
regulations. (Id.) Scarborough notes that Plaintiff
has been accommodated with a bottom bunk and continues to
receive medical treatment.
noted, this is a § 1983 action, but the pending motion
for injunctive relief seems to seek accommodation under the
Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C.
§§ 12132, et seq. Prison officials require
broad discretionary authority as the "operation of a
correctional institution is at best an extraordinarily
difficult undertaking." Wolff v. McDonnell, 418
U.S. 539, 566 (1974). "Although prison officials are
generally entitled to 'wide-ranging deference in the
adoption and execution of policies and practices that in
their judgment are needed to preserve internal order and
discipline to maintain institutional security, ' Bell
v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 547 (1979), this will not
always absolve them of their obligations under the ADA."
Matthews v. Pennsylvania Dep't of Com, 613
F.App'x 163, 169 (3d Cir. 2015).
Scarborough indicates that Plaintiff remains in his current
housing assignment due to his extensive disciplinary history
and concerns for the safety of the staff and other inmates
given that history. However, Plaintiff's medical
conditions are also accommodated, as is evidenced by his
assignment to a lower bunk. Notably, there is no evidence of
record that medical personnel have determined Plaintiff
should be considered for a special housing assignment.
Finally, it is Plaintiff's burden to prove he is entitled
to injunctive relief, and the parties' differing views of
Plaintiff's housing assignment does not affect the
Court's decision. Therefore, considering the facts
adduced and the appropriate legal standard, the Court finds
that Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate the likelihood of
success on the merits.
above reasons, the court will deny the motion for injunctive
relief. (D.I. ...