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Bradfield v. Donahue

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

March 26, 2015



JAMES D. TODD, District Judge.

On November 15, 2013, Plaintiff Ronnie Bradfield a/k/a Paul Farnsworth, Tennessee Department of Correction ("TDOC") prisoner number 219625, an inmate at the Hardeman County Correctional Facility ("HCCF") in Whiteville, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) On May 29, 2014, the Court issued an order that, inter alia, denied Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order, dismissed certain claims and parties, and directed that process be issued for several of the individual Defendants. (ECF No. 13.) All of the Defendants except for Helen Forbes have been served and have responded to the complaint.[1]

On August 28, 2014, Plaintiff renewed his motion for a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order ("TRO") directing the Defendants to place him in a single-person cell free of environmental tobacco smoke ("ETS"), provide him with a gluten-free diet, and provide him with adequate medical care. (ECF No. 22.) Defendants responded in opposition on September 11, 2014 (ECF No. 24). On September 18, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion for the Court to take judicial notice/reply (ECF No. 27), to which Defendants also filed a response (ECF No. 30). On October 23, 2014, Plaintiff filed yet another motion for the Court to take judicial notice/memorandum in support of his request for injunctive relief. (ECF No. 32.) Defendants responded to that motion as well. (ECF No. 33.)

In Plaintiff's motions to take judicial notice, it appears he is asking the Court to take judicial notice, pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 201(c)(2), of various case law, rules of civil procedure, and rules of evidence. Plaintiff also asks the Court to take judicial notice of various articles and information he has obtained from the internet and other sources regarding the effects of ETS.

Rule 201 provides standards for taking judicial notice of adjudicative facts, not law. The Court will fully consider the applicable law in deciding this matter; therefore, Plaintiff's motion in that regard is unnecessary. The Court also declines to take judicial notice of the information contained in the articles and other documents Plaintiff has submitted regarding the health hazards of ETS. As Defendants have pointed out, that type of information is generally required to be established through expert testimony. Therefore, the motions to take judicial notice are DENIED.

In the order of partial dismissal, the Court set forth the factors to be considered in addressing a request for preliminary injunctive relief:

In determining whether to issue a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction, a district court must consider the following four factors: "(1) whether the claimant has demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on the merits, (2) whether the claimant will suffer irreparable injury in the absence of a stay, (3) whether granting the stay will cause substantial harm to others, and (4) whether the public interest is best served by granting the stay." Workman v. Bredesen, 486 F.3d 896, 905 (6th Cir. 2007); see also Ne. Ohio Coalition for the Homeless v. Blackwell, 467 F.3d 999, 1009 (6th Cir. 2006) (same). "A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy which should be granted only if the movant carries his or her burden of proving that the circumstances clearly demand it." Overstreet v. Lexington-Fayette Urban Cnty. Gov't, 305 F.3d 566, 573 (6th Cir. 2002); see also Leary v. Daeschner, 228 F.3d 729, 739 (6th Cir. 2000) ("the proof required for the plaintiff to obtain a preliminary injunction is much more stringent than the proof required to survive a summary judgment motion").

(ECF No. 13 at 9-10.) In denying his initial request for such relief, the Court stated that "[t]he vague and conclusory allegations of Plaintiff's complaint are insufficient to satisfy the first two prongs" of this standard. ( Id. at 10.) The Court noted that Plaintiff had offered no admissible evidence documenting a medical need for a smoke-free environment or showing that the amount of ETS to which he has been exposed is sufficient to endanger his health. ( Id. )

In his renewed motion and supplemental memoranda, Plaintiff attempts to cure those deficiencies by providing his declaration, along with various exhibits. The exhibits, to which the Defendants have objected, include various unauthenticated medical records from as far back as 1993[2] (ECF No. 22-1 at 1-3, 5, 8-13, 17-22, 33-38; ECF No. 32-1); general information about celiac disease, ETS, and sinus problems printed from various internet websites (ECF No. 22-1 at 4, 6-7, 41-44; ECF Nos. 32-3, 32-4, 32-5 & 32-6); a copy of the table of contents and two pages from a Surgeon General's report on the health consequences of ETS (ECF No. 22-1 at 14-16); information that Plaintiff appears to have obtained from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about the rules labeling of gluten-free foods ( id. at 39-40); various documents and letters relating to grievances filed by Plaintiff ( id. at 23-28); and other miscellaneous documents ( id. at 29-32; ECF Nos. 32-1, 32-2 & 32-3).

Even if the Court considers the exhibits submitted by Plaintiff, he has not demonstrated that a preliminary injunction or TRO should issue. While Plaintiff may be able to show that he has had some degree of exposure to ETS at the HCCF, the evidence in the record still does not sufficiently show that his current medical needs are such that he requires a completely smoke-free environment. Therefore, Plaintiff has not shown a strong likelihood of success on the merits or that he will suffer irreparable harm if an injunction does not issue. The motion for injunctive relief is again DENIED.

On September 9, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion to reconsider the order of partial dismissal and to amend the complaint. (ECF No. 23.) Defendants filed a response to the motion on September 23, 2014. (ECF No. 29.) Plaintiff is seeking to amend his claims against HCCF Warden Michael Donahue, Unit Manager Sheila Martin, and Family Nurse Practitioner Ollie Herron, in both their individual and official capacities.[3]

In the order of partial dismissal, the Court dismissed the claims against Defendant Donahue on the ground that Plaintiff had failed to allege that Donahue had the necessary personal involvement in the events at issue. (ECF No. 13 at 15-16.) Plaintiff now alleges that he approached Defendant Donahue on September 2, 2014, and gave him a note saying he needed to be moved because he was housed with a smoker and there was a lot of smoking in his current housing unit. He contends Donahue said, "Yeah, I know, I also got you[r] lawsuit, " handed the note back to him and said "no." Plaintiff also alleges he sent Donahue a letter complaining that he needed to be housed in a single-cell, smoke-free environment and that Donahue "personally" responded to a grievance requesting that Plaintiff be in a single-cell, smoke-free environment. (ECF No. 23 at 3-4, ¶¶ 10-13.) Plaintiff contends this is sufficient to show the personal knowledge and involvement necessary to support liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

As the Court stated in the prior order:

A failure to take corrective action in response to an inmate grievance or complaint does not supply the necessary personal involvement for § 1983 liability. See George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 609-10 (7th Cir. 2007) ("Ruling against a prisoner on an administrative complaint does not cause or contribute to the [constitutional] violation...."). Defendants Donahue and Woodall are not alleged to have had any personal involvement in the events at ...

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