United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
CHRISTOPHER L. SCRUGGS, Plaintiff,
NURSE WEST, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr. Judge
L. Scruggs, a prisoner representing himself, has filed his
third motion for preliminary injunction in this case. His
previous requests for preliminary injunctions were denied. In
this motion, Mr. Scruggs seeks two forms of preliminary
injunctive relief. First, he asks this court to order
Westville Correctional Facility staff to process his prison
grievances. Second, he requests an order requiring the Wabash
Valley Correctional Facility to employ a full time law
librarian and have that librarian promptly file with the
court all of his submitted filings.
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.”
Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972 (1997). To
obtain preliminary injunctive relief, the moving party must
demonstrate that he or she has a reasonable likelihood of
success on the merits, lacks an adequate remedy at law, and
will suffer irreparable harm if immediate relief is not
granted. Girl Scouts of Manitou Council, Inc. v. Girl
Scouts of U.S., Inc., 549 F.3d 1079, 1086 (7th Cir.
2008). Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, injunctive
relief must be “narrowly drawn, extend no further than
necessary to remedy the constitutional violation, and must
use the least intrusive means to correct the violation of the
federal right.” Westefer v. Neal, 682 F.3d
679, 681 (7th Cir. 2012).
Request to Order Westville Staff to Process his Grievances
Scruggs complains that he was prevented from exhausting the
grievance process at Westville with respect to an alleged May
15, 2017, attack. He asks the court to order prison officials
to process his grievances related to that attack. As a
threshold matter, he has no right to the grievance process.
The Prison Litigation Reform Act does not require a state to
create a grievance procedure for its prison inmates, so being
denied access to a prison grievance procedure cannot form the
basis for a constitutional claim. Kervin v. Barnes,
787 F.3d 833, 835 (7th Cir. 2015).
Scruggs has no chance of success on the merits of this motion
for a preliminary injunction because compelling non-parties
to process his grievances is beyond the scope of his claims
in this lawsuit. This lawsuit is about Mr. Scruggs suing
Nurse West for using excessive force against him in October
2015 and also suing Correctional Officer Miller for failing
to intervene. Even if Mr. Scruggs were to succeed in this
lawsuit, he wouldn't receive any relief related to his
complaints that his recent grievances haven't been
processed. Because this motion seeks relief outside the scope
of the complaint, Mr. Scruggs can't obtain relief
here. See Williams v. Evelsizer, No. 12-CV-1082,
2013 WL 3337956, * 1 (July 2, 2013 S.D. Ill.) (holding that a
plaintiff is not likely to succeed on the merits when he
seeks injunctive relief outside the scope of his complaint).
Mr. Scruggs hasn't shown that he will suffer any
irreparable harm. Inmates are only required to exhaust
administrative remedies that are “available.”
Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 102 (2006). When
prison staff hinder an inmate's ability to use the
administrative process, administrative remedies are not
considered “available.” Kaba v. Stepp,
458 F.3d 678, 684 (7th Cir. 2006). In essence,
“[p]rison officials may not take unfair advantage of
the exhaustion requirement . . . and a remedy becomes
‘unavailable' if prison employees do not respond to
a properly filed grievance or otherwise use affirmative
misconduct to prevent a prisoner from exhausting.”
Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804, 809 (7th Cir. 2006).
Courts deciding whether an administrative remedy was
effectively unavailable ask whether the inmate did “all
that was reasonable to exhaust” under the
circumstances. Id. at 812. If Mr. Scruggs is truly
prevented from exhausting his administrative remedies, he
will simply be excused from that requirement.
Request that Wabash Valley be Ordered to Hire a Full Time Law
Librarian and File his Documents Within One Day
Scruggs was transferred to Wabash Valley on June 2, 2017. He
complains that on June 6, 2017, he submitted a number of
documents for filing that hadn't been filed with the
court as of June 11, 2017. When he asked his counselor about
this problem, she told him “to give it some
time.” Mr. Scruggs didn't heed that advice; he
filed this motion asking that the court order the Wabash
Valley facility to employ a full time law librarian and
require that librarian to electronically file all of his
submitted documents within one day of their being submitted.
This claim, too, is outside the scope of Mr. Scruggs's
complaint. The only relationship that this lawsuit has to the
allegations that prison officials have delayed filing his
submitted documents is that Mr. Scruggs fears he will have
difficulty litigating this case in the future. He has given
the court no reason to think that: the documents Mr. Scruggs
complained about not being filed, have been filed. ECF 70-78.
Apparently, his counselor was right; Mr. Scruggs just had to
give it some time.
problems of prisons in America are complex and intractable,
” and “courts are particularly ill equipped to
deal with these problems[.]” Shaw v. Murphy,
532 U.S. 223, 229 (2001) (internal quote marks and citation
omitted). Courts must afford prison officials
“wide-ranging deference” in the day-to-day
operations of a correctional facility. Bell v.
Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 547 (1979). Courts must defer to
correctional professionals in the adoption and execution of
policies for the operation of a penal institution.
Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 321-22 (1986);
Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 349 n. 14 (1981);
Bell v. WOlfish, 411 U.S. at 547. Mr. Scruggs
isn't entitled to a court order simply because he would
prefer to have the prison hire a full time law librarian and
be able to file documents within one day. These
inconveniences are simply a result of his being incarcerated,
and don't prejudice him. If Mr. Scruggs needs additional
time to meet any future deadline in this case due to a delay
in filing, he should simply ask for an extension of time when
he needs one.
final matter, Mr. Scruggs must stop filing frivolous motions
for preliminary injunction whenever he feels inconvenienced
or wronged. As explained before, that isn't the purpose
of preliminary injunctive relief. Mr. Scruggs has been
abusive in his practice of filing frivolous motions
requesting preliminary injunctive relief. He has filed
nineteen such motions since 2016. A motion for preliminary
injunction takes immediate priority over other filings. And
Mr. Scruggs's unnecessary overuse of injunction motions
has slowed the progress of each of his cases - and many other
cases on the docket - to the point that they have come to a
Scruggs also must stop putting more than one case number on
each of his filings. He put seven case numbers on this motion
and placed four case numbers on his previous motion for
preliminary injunction. This causes his filings to be
reviewed in many unrelated and unnecessary cases, resulting
in a large waste of time and judicial resources. Each of his
filings should include only one case number in the future.
these reasons, the court DENIES the motion for a preliminary
injunction. If Mr. Scruggs does not stop filing meritless
motions for preliminary injunction and/or does not stop
placing multiple case numbers on his ...