United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
RANDOLPH D. MOSS United States District Judge.
Maceo Jones, proceeding pro se, is a federal
prisoner in the custody of the United States Bureau of
Prisons (“BOP”). On July 25, 2018, Jones filed a
Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary
Injunction. See Dkt. 16. Because the Court concludes
that Plaintiff has not made a showing that he is likely to
succeed on the merits of his lawsuit, the Court will
DENY his motion for a temporary restraining
order and preliminary injunction.
alleges that the BOP has “constantly and continuously
denied [him] care for a serious medical need contrary to a
physician's instruction.” Dkt. 16 at 3. As the
Court understands Jones's allegations, Jones injured his
hand and wrist during an altercation in December 2016.
Id. at 2. After being seen by BOP medical
professionals, Jones complained of severe pain and swelling
and eventually was admitted to the emergency room at
Princeton Community Hospital in January 2017. Id.
His visit to the hospital revealed a bacterial infection.
Id. at 1; see also Dkt. 19 at 3. Although
Jones does not discuss his treatment there, it appears he was
successfully treated for the infection at the hospital and
that he was discharged in February 2017. Dkt. 16 at 2. Upon
his release, the treating physician suggested that Jones
receive a course of “physical therapy.”
Id. From early 2017 onwards, Jones contends that the
condition of his hand and wrist has continued to deteriorate
and that prison staff has not “provide[d] [him]
physical therapy” and has failed to “provide or
arrange an outside therapist, ” as purportedly directed
by the emergency room physician. Id. In his motion
for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction,
Dkt. 16, Jones seeks “release from solitary
confinement” so that he can access both an
“orthopedic” and “infectious [disease]. . .
specialist, ” and a “prescription for a course of
physical therapy” that will “restore and maintain
the full function of his [r]ight arm and [r]ight
wrist.” Dkt. 16-1 at 2.
preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy that should
be granted only when the party seeking the relief, by a clear
showing, carries the burden of persuasion.” Cobell
v. Norton, 391 F.3d 251, 258 (D.C. Cir. 2004). To
prevail, a party seeking a preliminary injunction must show
(1) “that he is likely to succeed on the merits,
” (2) “that he is likely to suffer irreparable
harm in the absence of preliminary relief, ” (3)
“that the balance of equities tips in his favor,
” and (4) “that an injunction is in the public
interest.” Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council,
Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008). Although the party
attempting to establish these four factors may rely on
“evidence that is less complete than in a trial on the
merits, ” NRDC v. Pena, 147 F.3d 1012, 1023
(D.C. Cir. 1998), he nevertheless “bear[s] the burden
of produc[ing] . . . credible” evidence sufficient to
demonstrate his entitlement to injunctive relief, R.I.L-R
v. Johnson, 80 F.Supp.3d 164, 173 (D.D.C. 2015)
(quotation marks omitted) (first alteration in original).
“[T]he first and most important” of these four
factors is whether the movant “ha[s] established a
likelihood of success on the merits.” Aamer v.
Obama, 742 F.3d 1023, 1038 (D.C. Cir. 2014). If Jones
cannot show a likelihood of success on the merits,
“there is no need to consider the remaining
factors.” Greater New Orleans Fair Hous. Action
Ctr. v. U.S. Dep't of Hous. & Urban Dev., 639
F.3d 1078, 1088 (D.C. Cir. 2011). Because Jones has not shown
a likelihood of success on the merits of his claim, the Court
must deny his motion for injunctive relief.
alleges that the BOP has violated the Eighth Amendment's
prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment by denying him
medical care. He brings his claim against the BOP under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Framed in that manner, Jones's claim
fails as a matter of law because “Section 1983 does not
apply to federal officials acting under color of federal
law.” Settles v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, 429
F.3d 1098, 1104 (D.C. Cir. 2005). Recognizing that Bivens
v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388
(1971), is (at least in part) the “federal analog to
suits brought against state officials under . . . 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, ” Hartman v. Moore, 547 U.S. 250,
254 n.2 (2006), several decisions in this circuit have
construed § 1983 actions against federal officials as
Bivens actions, see, e.g., Smith v.
Scalia, 44 F.Supp.3d 28, 40 n.9 (D.D.C. 2014),
aff'd, No. 14-5180, 2015 WL 13710107 (D.C. Cir.
Jan. 14, 2015); Ballard v. Holinka, 601 F.Supp.2d
110, 119-20 (D.D.C. 2009). A Bivens action, however,
“is an action against a federal officer seeking
damages.” Simpkins v. D.C. Gov't, 108 F.3d
366, 368 (D.C. Cir. 1997). Although Jones raises a claim for
compensatory damages in his complaint, see Dkt. 1 at
30, the present motion seeks only injunctive relief against
the BOP and its employees in their official capacity as
“agents and employees” of the BOP, Dkt. 16-1 at
1. Bivens, therefore, does not apply to Jones's
current motion for injunctive relief.
construing Jones's motion, see Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), however, the Court will
assume, arguendo, that Jones could bring his case
under a “direct cause of action” arising under
the Constitution. See Trudeau v. Fed. Trade Comm'
n, 456 F.3d 178, 190 (D.C. Cir. 2006) (citing
Hubbard v. U.S. EPA Adm'r, 809 F.2d 1, 11 n.15
(D.C. Cir. 1986) (“The court's power to enjoin
unconstitutional acts by the government, however, is inherent
in the Constitution itself. . .”) (citation omitted));
see also Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 846 (1994)
(“If the court finds the Eighth Amendment's
subjective and objective requirements satisfied” with
regard to a federal prisoner, “it may grant appropriate
injunctive relief.”). But, even under this assumption,
Jones has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of
his Eighth Amendment claim. “[D]eliberate indifference
to serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the
‘unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain,'
proscribed by the Eighth Amendment.” Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976) (quoting Gregg v.
Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 173 (1976)). A prison official is
“deliberately indifferent” if he or she
“knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate
health or safety.” Farmer v. Moritsugu, 163
F.3d 610, 614 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (quoting Farmer, 511
U.S. at 837). A violation can be “manifested by prison
doctors in their response to the prisoner's needs”
or by “prison guards in intentionally denying or
delaying access to medical care.” Estelle, 429
U.S. at 104-05. Deliberate indifference to a prisoner's
medical needs must rise above the level of “mere
negligence, ” Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294,
305 (1991), and cannot be “inadvertent, ”
Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105. Put differently,
“[m]edical malpractice does not become a constitutional
violation merely because the victim is a prisoner.”
Id. at 106.
this standard, Jones's allegations fail to show that he
is likely to prevail on his Eighth Amendment challenge. He
alleges that, following an injury to his hand and wrist,
prison staff “did not provide [him] physical
therapy” and has failed to “provide or arrange an
outside therapist” as allegedly directed by an
emergency room physician in February 2017. Dkt. 16 at 2. In
addition, he avers that he requires a “consultation
with a physician qualified to assess and treat [his] fatal
condition”-a reference to his “strep”
infection. Id. at 1-2. In response, the BOP offers
the declaration of Eddie Anderson, a staff physician at the
prison where Jones is incarcerated, attesting that
Jones's “only chronic infectious disease is
Hepatitis C” and that his condition is “being
managed in BOP's chronic care clinic.” Dkt. 19-1 at
1-2 (Anderson Decl. ¶¶ 1, 3, 6). Anderson further
attests that Jones has been evaluated on at least five
occasions since the injury to his hand, id. at 2
(Anderson Decl. ¶¶ 10-14), and has received regular
treatment including antibiotics, anti-inflammatories,
steroids, and muscle relaxers, id. (Anderson Decl.
¶ 8). And, Anderson also states that Jones has been seen
by a neurologist, who scheduled an echocardiogram, a carotid
ultrasound, and an MRI scan. Id. (Anderson Decl.
¶¶ 8, 10). When the neurologist then recommended a
further cervical MRI, Jones refused the procedure, and his
refusal was documented in his medical record. Id.
(Anderson Decl. ¶ 13); see also Dkt. 21 at 11.
According to Anderson, a physical therapist has provided
Jones with a list of rehabilitative exercises and is
assessing the efficacy of these exercises before recommending
other options. Dkt. 19-1 at 2 (Anderson Decl. ¶ 14). The
BOP has also provided, under seal, relevant medical records
documenting Jones's evaluation by medical staff.
See Dkt. 21.
this evidence, the Court finds that Jones has not met his
burden of demonstrating that he is likely to succeed on the
merits of his Eighth Amendment claim. That is not to say that
any constitutional challenge to Jones's medical treatment
will ultimately fail. At this stage of the litigation,
however, Jones has not made the “‘clear
showing' of likelihood of success” that is
necessary “for a preliminary injunction to be
granted.” Sierra Club v. U.S. Dep't of
Energy, 825 F.Supp.2d 142, 150 (D.D.C. 2011) (quoting
Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972 (1997)). The
Court, accordingly, will deny his motion for a temporary
restraining order and preliminary injunction.
reasons stated above, Jones's motion for a temporary
injunction or preliminary ...