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Edward Grimes, et al v. Correctional Medical Services

March 14, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cooper, District Judge



Pending before this Court are requests for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction filed by incarcerated pro se Plaintiffs John Tell and William Engel (collectively "Plaintiffs"). (Docket Entry Nos. 69, 70, 82, 83, & 100.) Edward Grimes, who is also listed as a plaintiff, appears not to have filed any requests for injunctive relief. Plaintiffs are bringing the underlying action to recover damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for failure to provide proper medical care. Plaintiffs request that the Court enter a preliminary injunction ordering the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections and/or Administrator of the New Jersey State Prison to: (1) "compel the New Jersey State Prison medical provider University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) to provide plaintiff necessary medical treatment prescribed by their own specialists, providing 24-hour pain relief avoiding NSAIDs and Tylenol and filling all prescription [sic] on time", (2) "compel the New Jersey State Prison medical provider (UMDNJ) to continue providing prescribed medical aids, previously classified as 'permenant' [sic] which include: medical chair, back brace and elevator pass", (3) "refrain from threats or acts of retaliation", (4) "refrain from discriminate policies concerning medical aids, such as, medical mattresses, extra pillows, needed to amelioriate [sic] pain", (5) "maintain Plaintiff in the section of the New Jersey State Prison most conducive to his medical conditions, excluding the infirmary. The 2C Medical Unit is presently that section", and (6) compel the payment of the cost for an independent medical expert to review their medical records, a physical examination, necessary tests, and adequate medical care. (Docket Entry No. 70-4, at 1-2.)

The Court denied without prejudice Plaintiffs' request for a court-appointed expert and ordered Defendants George Hayman and Michelle Ricci ("Defendants") to show cause why the Court should not preliminarily require the Defendants to provide Plaintiffs with the medical treatment and aids prescribed by their own specialist, refrain from threats or acts of retaliation, and maintain Plaintiffs in the section of the New Jersey State Prison most conducive to their medical conditions. (Docket Entry No. 105.) Defendants responded (Docket Entry No. 114 & 125) and Plaintiffs responded (Docket Entry Nos. 107, 108, 118 & 119). For the following reasons, the Court will deny Plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order.

I. Factual Background

Plaintiffs are state prisoners who allege that they have been denied medications to treat their serious, debilitating, and chronic conditions. (Docket Entry No. 70, Pl.'s Br. at 4.) Plaintiff Tell argues that he suffers from severe heart and blood pressure problems and UMDNJ staff have deprived him of essential, prescribed medications on numerous occasions and have ignored specialist warnings against prescribing Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) and Tylenol for him due to the potential for liver damage. (Id. at 9.) Plaintiff Engel argues that he suffers from many heart-related afflictions and a cardiac diet and cardiac rehabilitation program have been ordered, but are not followed due to prison policy. (Docket Entry No. 82, Defs.' Br. at 3.) Plaintiff Engel further argues that he has run out of essential medications on numerous occasions. (Id.) Both Plaintiffs provide extensive and detailed logs of incidents where they state that they did not receive their medications or received improper medications. (See Docket Entry Nos. 69, 70, 82, 83, 100, 107, 108, 118 & 119.)

Plaintiff Tell also states that his current concerns are the following: "(1) whether this dose of Tylenol will damage [his] kidneys and liver. [His] liver enzymes are in normal range for the first time in 20 years. This could be a bad sign, as liver disease progresses, this is one of the symptoms; (2) whether they will manage [his] night pain, thereby, lowering the dangerous BP levels (200 over 100),[he suffers] from each morning due to unmanaged night pain; and (3) whether [his] pain meds will be discontinued when there is a change of staff or policy, as has happened in the past." (Docket Entry No. 118, Pls.' Reply at 5.) Though Plaintiffs include a request that the Court enjoin Defendants Hayman and Ricci from engaging in acts of retaliation in their request for injunctive relief, it does not appear that said claim is included in their underlying Complaint.

II. Discussion

A. Legal Standard

Injunctive relief is an extraordinary remedy to be granted only in limited circumstances. Novartis Consumer Health v. Johnson & Johnson-Merck Consumer Pharms. Co., 290 F.3d 578, 586 (3d Cir. 2002). To obtain such interim relief, a movant must demonstrate both a likelihood of success on the merits and the probability of irreparable harm absent the injunction. Frank's GMC Truck Ctr. v. Gen. Motors Corp., 847 F.2d 100, 102 (3d Cir. 1988). Thus, in determining whether to issue a preliminary injunction, the Court must consider whether (1) the movant has shown a reasonable probability of success on the merits, (2) the movant will be irreparably injured by denial of the relief, (3) granting the preliminary relief will result in even greater harm to the nonmoving party, and (4) granting the preliminary relief is in the public interest. ACLU of N.J. v. Black Horse Pike Reg'l Bd. of Educ., 84 F.3d 1471, 1477 n.2 (3d Cir. 1996); AT&T Co. v. Winback & Conserve Program, 42 F.3d 1421, 1427 (3d Cir. 1994); see NutraSweet Co. v. Vit-Mar Enters., 176 F.3d 151, 153 (3d Cir. 1999). The Court should issue an injunction "only if the plaintiff produces evidence sufficient to convince the district court that all four factors favor preliminary relief." AT&T Co., 42 F.3d at 1427; see NutraSweet Co., 176 F.3d at 153 (noting that plaintiff's failure to establish any one of four elements renders preliminary injunction inappropriate).

B. Analysis

1. Reasonable Probability of Success on the Merits

The party seeking a preliminary injunction must demonstrate a "reasonable probability of eventual success in the litigation." Bennington Foods LLC v. St. Croix Renaissance Group, LLP, 528 F.3d 176, 179 (3d Cir. 2008) (quotation and citation omitted). In evaluating whether a movant has satisfied this first part of the preliminary injunction standard, "[i]t is not necessary that the moving party's right to a final decision after trial be wholly without doubt; rather, the burden is on the party seeking relief to make a prima facie case showing a reasonable probability that it will prevail on the merits." Oburn v. Shapp, 521 F.2d 142, 148 (3d Cir. 1975).

Plaintiffs' claims include Eighth Amendment violations for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs, breach of contract, malpractice, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Compl. at 22-23.) They contend that the Defendants denied them adequate medical care and failed to ...

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