United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS FOR PRELIMINARY
INJUNCTION AND SANCTIONS [Doc. 53 & 61]
CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. Senior United States District Judge
se plaintiff, Andrew El-Massri, an inmate currently
incarcerated at the Garner Correctional Institution
(“Garner”) in Newtown, Connecticut, has filed a
civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against the New Haven Correctional Center
(“NHCC”), where he was previously confined, and
seven of the facility's employees in their individual and
official capacities: Deputy Warden Marmora, Lieutenant
Cacioli, Lieutenant Lewis, Lieutenant Williams, Officer
Hebert, Officer McGivney, and Nurse Goode (herein
brief, El-Massri's claims stem from Defendants'
alleged use of physical force and Oleoresin Capsaicin
(“OC”) spray upon him following an altercation he
had with another inmate on November 26, 2015, at NHCC, where
he was then confined as a pretrial detainee. Plaintiff also
alleges that Defendants wrongfully refused to allow him to
shower for three days thereafter, thereby preventing him from
decontaminating himself from the OC spray. He claims that
this failure to allow him to shower constituted an
unconstitutional condition of confinement and deliberate
indifference to his serious medical needs.
review of his claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and
the Court's Ruling on Plaintiff's motion to amend his
Complaint, the following claims have been allowed to proceed
in this action:
(a) Fourteenth Amendment excessive force claim against
Williams, Cacioli, Lewis, and Hebert (along with failure to
intervene to prevent such force against Goode and
(b) Connecticut common law civil assault claim against
Williams, Cacioli, Lewis, and Hebert;
(c) Fourteenth Amendment conditions of confinement claim
against all individual defendants (Williams, Cacioli, Lewis,
Hebert, Goode, McGivney, and Marmora) regarding failure to
permit El-Massri to shower for three days;
(d) Fourteenth Amendment deliberate indifference to serious
medical needs against all individual defendants (Williams,
Cacioli, Lewis, Hebert, Goode, McGivney, and Marmora) for
failure to permit El-Massri to shower for three days; and (e)
failure to supervise or train against Marmora.
See El-Massri v. New Haven Corr. Ctr., No.
3:18-CV-1249 (CSH), 2019 WL 3491639, at *14 (D. Conn. July
31, 2019). All claims regarding an alleged violation
of DOC Administrative Directives were dismissed. “It is
well-established that a claim that a state official failed to
comply with his own agency's directives, policies, or
procedures does not demonstrate the deprivation of a
constitutionally or federally protected right.”
Id. at *10 (citations omitted).
Court also dismissed all claims against defendant NHCC
because “[a] correctional institution is not a
“person” within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. §
1983.” El-Massri v. New Haven Corr. Ctr., No.
3:18-CV-1249 (CSH), 2018 WL 4604308, at *11 (D. Conn. Sept.
25, 2018). Accordingly, there was “no arguable legal
basis for proceeding with a § 1983 claim against
NHCC.” Id. Subsequently, the remaining
Defendants filed their answer to the amended complaint.
See Doc. 78.
before the Court at this time are Plaintiff's motions
seeking (1) a preliminary injunction [Doc. 53], requesting
medical treatment for an ongoing skin disorder, and (2)
sanctions for alleged spoliation of video evidence by
Defendants [Doc. 61].
Motion for Preliminary Injunction
Standard for Preliminary Injunction
this Circuit, ” the Court of Appeals has
“repeatedly said that district courts may grant a
preliminary injunction where a plaintiff demonstrates
irreparable harm and meets either of two standards:
‘(a) a likelihood of success on the merits, or (b)
sufficiently serious questions going to the merits to make
them a fair ground for litigation, and a balance of hardships
tipping decidedly in the movant's favor.'”
DONALD J. TRUMP v. DEUTSCHE BANK AG, No. 19-1540-CV,
__ F.3d __, 2019 WL 6482561, at *4 (2d Cir. Dec. 3, 2019)
(quoting Kelly v. Honeywell Int'l Inc., 933 F.3d
173, 134 (2d Cir. 2019)). Moreover, the Second Circuit has
emphasized that “irreparable harm” is “a
factor required under either standard, ” 2019 WL
6482561, at *5. See also Safran Elecs. & Def. SAS
v. iXblue SAS, No. 19-0567, 2019 WL 5250790, at *1 (2d
Cir. Oct. 17, 2019) (“To obtain a preliminary
injunction, a plaintiff must demonstrate: (1) ‘either
(a) a likelihood of success on the merits or (b) sufficiently
serious questions going to the merits to make them a fair
ground for litigation and a balance of hardships tipping
decidedly in the plaintiff's favor'; (2) ‘that
he is likely to suffer irreparable injury in the absence of
an injunction'; (3) that the balance of hardships between
the plaintiff and defendant ‘tips in the
plaintiff's favor'; and (4) that the ‘public
interest would not be disserved by the issuance of a
preliminary injunction.'”) (quoting Salinger v.
Colting, 607 F.3d 68, 79-80 (2d Cir. 2010)).
preliminary injunction “is an extraordinary and drastic
remedy, one that should not be granted unless the movant, by
a clear showing, carries the burden of
persuasion.'” Moore v. Consol. Edison Co. of
New York, 409 F.3d 506, 510 (2d Cir. 2005) (quoting
Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972 (1997)
(emphasis and citation omitted)). “Irreparable harm is
‘the single most important prerequisite for the
issuance of a preliminary injunction.'”
Demirayak v. City of New York, 746 Fed.Appx. 49, 51
(2d Cir. 2018) (quoting Bell & Howell: Mamiya Co. v.
Masel Supply Co. Corp., 719 F.2d 42, 45 (2d Cir.
it is not typical “to dispose of motions for
preliminary injunctions without an evidentiary hearing,
” such a hearing is “not required in all cases
.” Sugarhill Records Ltd. v. Motown Record
Corp., 570 F.Supp. 1217, 1222 (S.D.N.Y. 1983) (citations
omitted). The Second Circuit has “explained that
‘there is no hard and fast rule in this circuit that
oral testimony must be taken on a motion for a preliminary
injunction or that the court can in no circumstances dispose
of the motion on the papers before it.'” Safran
Elecs. & Def. SAS, 2019 WL 5250790, at *2 (quoting
Md. Cas. Co. v. Realty Advisory Bd. on Labor
Relations, 107 F.3d 979, 984 (2d Cir. 1997)). Where, for
example, the briefs provide “an adequate basis for the
District Court's decision, ” the Second Circuit has
held that “no hearing was necessary.” Id. See
also SCM Corp. v. Xerox Corp., 507 F.2d 358, 361 (2d
Cir. 1974) (holding district judge did not abuse discretion
in finding plaintiff failed to make a sufficient showing of
irreparable damage to justify an evidentiary hearing on its
motion for preliminary injunction). Also, where issues of
fact “are not relevant to the determination of the
[preliminary injunction] motion, ” resolution
“without an evidentiary hearing is appropriate.”
Sugarhill Records Ltd., 570 F.Supp. at 1221-22
(citing, inter alia, Herbert Rosenthal Jewelry Corp. v.
Grossbardt, 428 F.2d 551, 554-55 (2d Cir. 1970)).
“In deciding a motion for preliminary injunction, a
court may consider the entire record including affidavits and
other hearsay evidence.” Johnson v. Newport
Lorillard, No. 01 CIV. 9587 (SAS), 2003 WL 169797, at *1
(S.D.N.Y. Jan. 23, 2003).
the moving party seeks mandatory relief - a remedy that
“alters the status quo by commanding some positive
act” - he or she must meet a higher standard.
Cacchillo v. Insmed, Inc., 638 F.3d 401, 406 (2d
Cir. 2011) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
See also Demirayak, 746 Fed.Appx. at 51 (“A
heightened standard applies when a movant seeks a preliminary
injunction that either alters the status quo or would provide
the ultimate relief sought in the underlying action.”)
(citation omitted). A mandatory preliminary injunction
“should issue only upon a clear showing that the moving
party is entitled to the relief requested, or where extreme
or very serious damage will result from the denial of
preliminary relief.” Cacchillo, 638 F.3d at
406 (citing Citigroup Glob. Mkts., Inc. v. VCG Special
Opportunities Master Fund Ltd., 598 F.3d 30, 35 n.4 (2d
Cir. 2010)). See also Demirayak, 746 Fed.Appx. at 51
(same). “The ‘clear' or
‘substantial' showing requirement . . . alters the
traditional formula by requiring that the movant demonstrate
a greater likelihood of success.” Tom Doherty
Assocs., Inc. v. Saban Entm't, Inc., 60 F.3d 27, 34
(2d Cir. 1995) (citation omitted).
the requested injunctive relief must relate to the claims set
forth in the complaint. See De Beers Consol. Mines Ltd.
v. United States, 325 U.S. 212, 220 (1945) (“A
preliminary injunction is always appropriate to grant
intermediate relief of the same character as that which may
be granted finally”; but an injunction is not
appropriate if it “deals with a matter lying wholly
outside the issues in the suit . . . .”). See also
Milner v. Black, No. 3:16-CV-1621 (SRU), 2017 WL
2661626, at *1 (D. Conn. June 20, 2017) (“[T]he request
for injunctive relief must relate to the claims in the
complaint.”); Oliphant v. Quiros, No.
3:09-CV-1771(VLB), 2010 WL 2180780, at *1 (D. Conn. May 19,
2010) (“[T]he petitioner must establish a relationship
between the injury claimed in the motion seeking injunctive
relief and the conduct giving rise to the action.”)
(citing Omega World Travel, Inc. v. Trans World
Airlines, 111 F.3d 14, 16 (4th Cir. 1997)).
Second Circuit “review[s] denial of a preliminary
injunction for abuse of discretion.” DONALD J.
TRUMP, 2019 WL 6482561, at *3 (citing Ragbir v.
Homan, 923 F.3d 53, 62 (2d Cir. 2019)). “A
district court abuses its discretion when it rests its
decision on a clearly erroneous finding of fact or makes an
error of law.” Almontaser v. New York City
Dep't of Educ., 519 F.3d 505, 508 (2d Cir. 2008).
The district court thus has broad discretion in determining
whether to grant or deny preliminary injunctive relief.
Moore v. Consol. Edison Co. of New York, 409 F.3d
506, 511 (2d Cir. 2005). Additionally, “[i]n
the prison context, a request for injunctive relief must
always be viewed with great caution so as not to immerse the
federal judiciary in the management of state prisons.”
Fisher v. Goord, 981 F.Supp. 140, 167 (W.D.N.Y.
1997) (citing, inter alia, Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 846-47 (1994)).
Substance of Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary
outset, the Court notes that it did not hold an evidentiary
hearing because the briefs, affidavits, and exhibits
submitted by the parties were sufficient for the Court to
resolve this motion. Moreover, any unresolved factual issues
were not relevant to the Court's decision on the motion.
Accordingly, for purposes of disposing of the motion, the
Court relies on the papers filed by the parties.
to the substance of the preliminary injunction motion,
Plaintiff requests “proper treatment and care” by
a medical specialist for his “extremely painful skin
disorder that is the proximate [result] of [the]
[D]efendants' actions” in this case. Doc. 53, at 1.
He claims that he suffers from severe itching, redness, and
burning on “80% of his body” as a result of the
Defendants' use of OC spray on him on November 26, 2015,
and their refusal to permit him “proper
decontamination.” Doc. 53-1, at 1. He seeks “an
immediate order for [the Connecticut Department of Correction
(“DOC”)] to send him to a specialist to treat
this recurring skin disorder.” Id. at 2.
Defendants filed an objection to El-Massri's motion,
arguing that Plaintiff has failed to establish that a
preliminary injunction should issue. Doc. 77, at 3-7. First,
Defendants assert that the injunctive relief Plaintiff seeks
is not related to the underlying claims contained in this
action because any alleged failure to treat his skin
condition after Plaintiff's specified three-day
period in November 2015 is not pled in the Amended Complaint.
Id. at 3. Second, Defendants argue that Plaintiff
has not demonstrated that “irreparable harm” will
result if no injunction issues. Id. at 5-6. Lastly,
Defendants maintain that Plaintiff has failed to meet the
standard to obtain a preliminary injunction by failing to
demonstrate the likelihood of success on the merits or
sufficiently serious questions going to the merits to make
them a fair ground for litigation and a balance of hardships
tipping in his favor. Id. at 6-7.
Court examines Plaintiff's motion and Defendants'
objections below and resolves the motion.
Injunction Requested Fails to Relate to Claims at
requesting medical treatment, as an inmate, for a skin
condition based on an Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs, Plaintiff has
requested relief which falls outside of his pending claims.
He argues that DOC “prison officials” at Hartford
Correctional Center (“HCC”) and Garner have
“left [him] in pain for years” by failing to
provide “proper medical attention” for his
painful skin disorder. Doc. 53-1, at 1. The injunction he
seeks is thus unrelated to the Fourteenth Amendment claims he
has made, as a detainee, against the NHCC prison officials in
his Amended Complaint. The unconstitutional confinement and
deliberate indifference claims in the operative complaint
relate to actions by the named Defendant prison officials at
NHCC while Plaintiff was a prison detainee. Specifically,
those claims allege that on November 26, 2015, while
Plaintiff was detained at NHCC, Defendants employed excessive
force, used OC spray, and failed to allow him to
decontaminate by showering for three days following the
incident. Such claims do not include allegations regarding
subsequent years of failure by DOC prison officials at HCC
and/or Garner to treat an alleged long-term skin condition he
has suffered as an inmate.
clear that Plaintiff believes that his alleged skin condition
originally arose from the November 2015 incident; and in that
regard, he will be left to his proof as to the cause of this
affliction. However, the injunction he now seeks is unrelated
to the allegations set forth in his Amended Complaint. In
sum, the claims in Plaintiff's operative complaint relate
to the Defendants' actions which he alleges initially
caused his skin affliction in November 2015, whereas the
requested injunction relates to unnamed DOC officials'
long-term treatment of that condition during four years that
followed the November 2015 incident. Plaintiff cannot insert
new claims into his Complaint with a motion for preliminary
forth in the Court's prior ruling granting Plaintiff
leave, in part, to amend his Complaint, “to the extent
that Plaintiff may seek to add a variety of ‘deliberate
indifference' claims against various defendants by
alleging a series of later incidents that may have
exacerbated his skin condition after the three-day period in
November 2015, those allegations are beyond the scope of
the claims he has pled in this action and thus
disallowed.” Doc. 58 (Ruling entered 7/31/19), at 20-21
(emphasis added). There are thus no pending claims regarding
deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical
needs arising from actions or events that occurred
after November 2015. Doc. 77, at 3-4. As Defendants
explain, “At first glance, the relief the Plaintiff
request[s] [in his preliminary injunction motion] may appear
to be related to the claims before the court[;] [h]owever, a
review of the Defendants in this case and the subject matter
implicated clearly demonstrate[s] that the issue before the
court stems from the use of a chemical agent and the