United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND
TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER
JEFFREY ALKER MEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Germano is a prisoner in the custody of the Connecticut
Department of Correction (“DOC”) and is currently
confined at Garner Correctional Institution. He has filed a
complaint pro se and in forma pauperis
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against some twenty persons, a
mix of present and former correctional officials and medical
practitioners, in their individual and official capacities
for damages and injunctive relief. Germano claims that
defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by being
deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, and
then retaliated against him, in violation of the First
Amendment, for complaining about it. Doc. #1.
has moved for a temporary restraining order, or, in the
alternative, a preliminary injunction, ordering the DOC to
place him on single-cell status during the pendency of this
litigation. Doc. #9. Germano argues that his serious mental
illnesses make cohabitation with a cell-mate impossible; that
he has advised his treatment team at Germano of these needs;
and that they are, in violation of the Eighth Amendment,
being deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need
for single cell status. Id. Another physical ailment
led to Germano's current assignment to a single cell, but
once he has recovered from that ailment, Germano risks being
assigned to a multiple-inmate cell. Id.
temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction are
extraordinary remedies for which a plaintiff bears the burden
to show (1) irreparable harm, (2) a likelihood of success on
the merits or a sufficiently serious question going to the
merits and a balance of hardships tipping decidedly in the
plaintiff's favor, and (3) that the public interest
weighs in favor of granting an injunction. See,
e.g., Metro. Taxicab Bd. of Trade v. City of New
York, 615 F.3d 152, 156 (2d Cir. 2010) (preliminary
injunction); HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C. v. Gawker
Media LLC, 721 F.Supp.2d 303, 305 (S.D.N.Y. 2010)
(temporary restraining order).
I assume that Germano has established irreparable harm, I
conclude that Germano cannot show a likelihood of success or
a sufficiently serious question going to the merits of his
Eighth Amendment or First Amendment claims.
Supreme Court has held that a prison official's
deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of a
prisoner amounts to a violation of the Eighth Amendment.
See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). The
Second Circuit has in turn made clear that a prisoner who
claims deliberate indifference to a serious medical need must
satisfy two requirements. First, there is an
objective requirement-that the prisoner's
medical need was sufficiently serious. See Spavone v.
N.Y. State Dep't of Corr. Servs., 719 F.3d 127, 138
(2d Cir. 2013). The prisoner must show that he suffered from
an urgent medical condition involving a risk of death,
degeneration, or extreme pain. See Hill v. Curcione,
657 F.3d 116, 122 (2d Cir. 2011).
there is a subjective requirement: that the
defendant has acted recklessly-that is, with an actual
awareness of a substantial risk that serious harm to the
prisoner would result from the defendant's action or
non-action. See Spavone, 719 F.3d at 138. It is not
enough to allege simple negligence or negligent medical
malpractice. See Hilton v. Wright, 673 F.3d 120, 127
(2d Cir. 2012) (per curiam); Hathaway v.
Coughlin, 99 F.3d 550, 553 (2d Cir. 1996). Instead, a
prisoner must show that the defendant acted with the
equivalent of a criminally reckless state of mind when
denying treatment for the prisoner's medical needs.
See Collazo v. Pagano, 656 F.3d 131, 135 (2d Cir.
2011) (per curiam).
extent that Germano's claim is understood as an Eighth
Amendment challenge to his conditions of confinement, the
Eighth Amendment does not guarantee a prisoner the right upon
request to be housed in a single cell. See, e.g.,
Jarecke v. Hensley, 552 F.Supp.2d 261, 265-66 (D.
Conn. 2008). I understand Germano's claim instead to be
that the denial of single-cell status amounts to deliberate
indifference to his serious mental health needs.
assume that Germano has alleged facts to show that he suffers
from severe mental conditions sufficient to satisfy the
objective prong of the Eighth Amendment standard for
deliberate indifference. See Currytto v. Furey, 2019
WL 1921856, at *5 (D. Conn. 2019) (collecting cases).
Nevertheless, the facts do not plausibly establish that any
of the defendants recklessly disregarded a substantial risk
that Germano would suffer serious harm as a result of their
denial of Germano's request for single-cell status, or
that their denial of his single-cell status was retaliatory
declaration of Jennifer Rodi, licensed professional
counselor, submitted with the defendants' response to the
motion for a temporary restraining order, indicates that
Germano's treatment team (composed of a psychologist, an
advanced practice registered nurse, a licensed clinical
social worker, and other staff) believe a single cell
assignment is not warranted. Doc. #11-1. Germano disagrees,
of course, but cannot show that his treatment team has
recklessly disregarded a substantial risk that Germano would
suffer serious harm; the team has simply reached a considered
conclusion that the risk does not exist. See Hill,
657 F.3d at 123 (affirming dismissal of complaint where facts
equally consistent with reasonable difference of medical
opinion or medical negligence as deliberate indifference);
cf. Johnson v. Wright, 412 F.3d 398, 400 (2d Cir.
2005) (genuine issue of fact as to deliberate indifference
where “defendants reflexively applied [prison] policy
in the face of unanimous, express, and repeated-but
contrary-recommendations of plaintiff's treating
physicians” (emphasis added)).
same token, Germano has not alleged facts to plausibly show
that, as far as their involvement in his assignment to a
shared cell is concerned, the remaining individual capacity
defendants acted recklessly with respect to Germano's
conditions, or with a retaliatory motive, as opposed to
negligently or innocently on the basis of divided medical
opinion. Because Germano has alleged facts that show no more
than grounds for difference of medical opinion rather than
reckless indifference, he has not shown either a likelihood
of success or serious questions going to the merits of his
Eighth Amendment or First Amendment claims. See Abrams v.
Waters, 2018 WL 1469057, at *6 (D. Conn. 2018) (denying
preliminary injunctive relief claim for single-cell status).
there is no basis for a temporary restraining order or
preliminary injunctive relief at this time.
motions for a temporary restraining order and preliminary
injunction (Docs. ...