United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
CHRISTOPHER L. SCRUGGS, Plaintiff,
SGT. PENNING, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr., Judge
L. Scruggs, a prisoner representing himself,  has filed a
motion for preliminary injunction in this newly filed case.
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 for that
librarian to promptly file with the court all of his
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
get 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 isn't
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
Mr. Scruggs complains that he was prevented from exhausting
the grievance process at Westville regarding an alleged May
15, 2017, attack. He asks the court to order prison officials
to process his grievances related to that attack. He has no
right to the grievance process. The Prison Litigation Reform
Act doesn't require a state to create a grievance
procedure for its prison inmates, so being denied access to a
prison grievance procedure can't form the basis for a
constitutional claim. Kervin v. Barnes, 787 F.3d
833, 835 (7th Cir. 2015).
no chance of success on the merits of this motion for a
preliminary injunction for another reason: compelling
non-parties to process his grievances is beyond the scope of
his claims in this lawsuit. Although the complaint hasn't
yet been screened, this lawsuit is about Mr. Scruggs suing
five defendants for using excessive force against him in
January 2017. If Mr. Scruggs succeeds in this lawsuit, he
won't get 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 he seeks. 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).
A court deciding whether an administrative remedy was
effectively unavailable asks 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 be Ordered to Hire a Full Time Law
Librarian and File his Documents Within One Day
Scruggs was transferred to the Wabash Valley facility on June
2, 2017. He complains that on June 6, he submitted a number
of documents for filing that hadn't been filed with the
court as of June 11. When he asked his counselor about this
problem, she told him “to give it some time.” He
didn't give it time; instead, he filed this motion asking
that the court order Wabash Valley to employ a full time law
library worker and order that librarian to electronically
file all submitted legal papers within one day of their being
submitted. This claim, too, is outside the scope of his
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. The record
provides no support for that fear. The documents Mr. Scruggs
complained about not being filed have been filed. ECF 4-9.
His counselor was right; Mr. Scruggs just had to give it some
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). The federal courts
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 request an extension of time when
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 for
preliminary injunctive relief. He has filed nineteen such
motions since 2016. A motion for preliminary injunction gets
immediate priority over other filings. Mr. Scruggs's
unnecessary overuse of them 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 grinding halt.
Scruggs also must stop putting more than one case number on
each of his filings. He placed seven case numbers on this
preliminary injunction motion. 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. Mr. Scruggs is CAUTIONED that if he does not stop
filing meritless motions for preliminary injunction and/or
does not stop placing multiple case numbers on ...