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Madden v. Grate

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah

July 17, 2019

WILLIAM JOSEPH MADDEN PLAINTIFF
v.
JONATHAN GRATE et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          THOMAS B. RUSSELL, SENIOR JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court upon three motions filed by pro se Plaintiff William Joseph Madden - a motion for a preliminary injunction (DN 6), a related motion for oral argument (DN 15), and a motion to seal this action (DN 13). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny these motions.

         I. MOTION FOR A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

         A. SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE AND ARGUMENTS[1]

         Plaintiff is a convicted prisoner who brought this civil-rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Kentucky State Penitentiary (KSP). In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that when he was incarcerated at another facility, he was wrongfully issued a uniform that is only worn by inmates who are in protective custody.[2] He alleges that he had to wear this uniform for approximately four months. Plaintiff states that other inmates, including violent prison gang members, who saw him wearing this uniform suspected he was either a “child molester” or an “informant.” Plaintiff writes, “[o]nce an inmate is suspected or confirmed of belonging to one or more of these [] groups, they are almost guaranteed to face victimization at the hands of prison gangs, who especially target them for extortion, and assault if the victim refuses to pay.”

         Plaintiff states that in February 2019, shortly after he had been transferred to KSP, he was approached by gang members in an extortion attempt. Plaintiff alleges that when he made it clear he would not pay, “[he] was threatened that he would be stabbed, which is not an uncommon occurrence at KSP.” Plaintiff states that after this threat, he only left his cell “when absolutely necessary” and stopped eating in the cafeteria, which he alleges is “a place where many attacks occur.” Plaintiff then states that on March 11, 2019, he entered the cafeteria for breakfast. He alleges that it was there that another inmate approached him and “began throwing punches” which caused Plaintiff to suffer a busted lip. Plaintiff writes that he “realized immediately that the assault was a response to his refusal to pay the gang's extortion demand.”

         Plaintiff states that he has informed both Defendants KDOC Acting Commissioner Grate and KSP Warden Hart of “the exact nature and circumstances of his threats to safety.” He also states that when he requested to be placed in long-term protective custody to prevent further assaults from occurring, Defendants Spindler, Bradley, and Fisher conducted a hearing and ultimately decided to deny Plaintiff's request.

         Plaintiff states that Defendants are aware that he is at a heightened risk of physical assault because other inmates believe that he was in protective custody at EKCC and that Defendants are forcing Plaintiff to remain in a dangerous environment by refusing to actually place him in protective custody now. Plaintiff also argues that although Defendants have offered to transfer him to another facility instead of placing him in protective custody, this resolution will not help him because he will be face extortion and assault from gang members at any facility because they “share information about their targets so the victim cannot escape.”

         In their response to Plaintiff's motion, Defendants argue that Plaintiff has failed to meet his burden of showing that he would be incarcerated under conditions posing a risk of substantial harm if he were transferred to another facility or that Defendants are being deliberate indifferent to his safety since they have offered him a transfer. They also argue that Plaintiff has failed to establish that he will suffer irreparable harm if he is transferred instead of being placed in protective custody at KSP. Finally, Defendants argue that the Court should not allow Plaintiff, or any prisoner, to dictate to prison officials under what circumstances a prisoner should be placed in protective custody.

         In his reply, Plaintiff disputes Defendants' argument that he will not suffer irreparable injury if a preliminary injunction is not issued. He states that, “having served ten total years in prison throughout his life, [he] has an intimate understanding of inmate prison politics” and “it is well established that inmates who have ANY involvement or association with protective custody are fair game for the various prison gangs to victimize by demanding a ‘tax' to remain in the general population [], and assaults if they refuse to pay.” Plaintiff writes: “The question is not ‘will' [he] suffer irreparable injury . . . but ‘when.' Also the seriousness of the injury is left to fate.”

         B. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(a) permits a party to seek preliminary injunctive relief if he believes he will suffer imminent irreparable harm or injury. The decision whether to grant a request for interim injunctive relief falls within the sound discretion of the district court. Gonzales v. Nat'l Bd. of Med. Exam'rs, 225 F.3d 620, 625 (6th Cir. 2000); Friendship Materials, Inc. v. Mich. Brick, Inc., 679 F.2d 100, 102 (6th Cir. 1982). An injunction, however, is an extraordinary remedy that should be granted only after a court has considered the following four factors:

(1) whether the movant has a “strong” likelihood of success on the merits; (2) whether the movant would otherwise suffer irreparable injury; (3) whether issuance of a preliminary injunction would cause substantial harm to others; and (4) whether the public interest would be served by issuance of a preliminary injunction.

Tucker v. City of Fairfield, 398 F.3d 457, 461 (6th Cir. 2005) (quotations and citations omitted). The four preliminary injunction factors are “‘factors to be balanced, not prerequisites that must be met.'” Michael v. Futhey, No. 08-3932, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 28217, at *93-94 (6th Cir. Dec. 22, 2009) (quoting Six Clinics Holding Corp., II v. Cafcomp Sys., 119 F.3d 393, 400 (6th Cir. 1997)). While these factors are to be balanced, the failure to show a likelihood of success on the merits or irreparable harm is generally fatal. See Gonzales ...


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