United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. MILLER, JR. JUDGE
Dewald, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a motion for a
preliminary injunction, alleging that the prison medical
staff reduced his prescribed dosages of pain medication and
would soon discontinue his pain medication entirely.
“The purpose of preliminary injunctive relief is to
minimize the hardship to the parties pending the ultimate
resolution of the lawsuit.” Platinum Home Mortg.
Corp. v. Platinum Fin. Group, Inc., 149 F.3d 722, 726
(7th Cir.1998). “In order to obtain a preliminary
injunction, the moving party must show that: (1) they are
reasonably likely to succeed on the merits; (2) no adequate
remedy at law exists; (3) they will suffer irreparable harm
which, absent injunctive relief, outweighs the irreparable
harm the respondent will suffer if the injunction is granted;
and (4) the injunction will not harm the public
interest.” Joelner v. Village of Washington Park,
Illinois, 378 F.3d 613, 619 (7th Cir. 2004).
start, the court considers whether Mr. Dewald has shown a
reasonable likelihood of success on the merits. Under the
Eighth Amendment, inmates are entitled to adequate medical
care. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). To
establish liability, a prisoner must satisfy both an
objective and subjective component by showing: (1) his
medical need was objectively serious; and (2) the defendant
acted with deliberate indifference to that medical need.
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). A
medical need is “serious” if it is one that a
physician has diagnosed as mandating treatment, or one that
is so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize
the necessity for a doctor's attention. Greeno v.
Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 653 (7th Cir. 2005). Deliberate
indifference means that the defendant “acted in an
intentional or criminally reckless manner, i.e., the
defendant must have known that the plaintiff was at serious
risk of being harmed and decided not to do anything to
prevent that harm from occurring even though he could have
easily done so.” Board v. Farnham, 394 F.3d
469, 478 (7th Cir. 2005).
medical professional to be held liable for deliberate
indifference to a serious medical need, he or she must make a
decision that represents “such a substantial departure
from accepted professional judgment, practice, or standards,
as to demonstrate that the person responsible actually did
not base the decision on such a judgment.” Jackson
v. Kotter, 541 F.3d 688, 697 (7th Cir. 2008). Mere
disagreement with medical professionals about the appropriate
course of treatment doesn't establish deliberate
indifference, nor does negligence or even medical
malpractice. Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751
(7th Cir. 2011).
response to Mr. Dewald's motion, the Warden filed the
declaration of Dr. Nancy Marthakis. ECF 60-1. In the
declaration, Dr. Marthakis states that she assessed Mr.
Dewald for his conditions of degenerative arthritis and
neuropathy in his neck during a chronic care visit on July
10, 2018. Another physician had prescribed tramadol, but Dr.
Marthakis decided to wean Mr. Dewald from the medication due
to his history of drug-seeking behavior, which mental health
staff had documented, and to substitute Mobic. Mr. Dewald
requested Flexeril, but Dr. Marthakis denied this request
based on her observation that his cervical range of motion
was only mildly reduced. In addition to Mobic, she also
prescribed Tylenol and Neurontin. Dr. Marthakis also
indicates that she has no intentions of reducing or
discontinuing Mr. Dewald's current prescriptions but that
she might adjust Mr. Dewald's prescriptions after future
assessments in accordance with her medical judgment.
Dewald disputes Dr. Marthakis' account, but it is
difficult to credit many of Mr. Dewald's allegations. For
instance, Mr. Dewald alleges that Dr. Marthakis changed his
medications in an attempt to save money, but his primary
support for this allegation is a conversation in which he
accuses her of participating in a scam against him. ECF 53 at
6. Mr. Dewald says he needs strong pain medication due to
immobilizing pain and denies any drug-seeking behavior, but
he also concedes that he has consumed illegal substances
during his time in prison and that he purposefully misleads
medical staff. ECF 29 at 4; ECF 53 at 18. He says his
prescription for Mobic has been discontinued and that his
prescription for Tylenol will soon be discontinued, but Dr.
Marthakis has prescribed him Mobic and Tylenol through
January 2019. ECF 60-1 at 1-2. On this evidentiary basis, the
court cannot conclude Mr. Dewald is likely to succeed on the
merits of his claim that medical staff acted with deliberate
indifference to his serious medical needs.
court must also consider whether Mr. Dewald will suffer
irreparable harm which, absent injunctive relief, outweighs
the irreparable harm the defendants will suffer if the
injunction is granted. For prisoner cases, the court has
limited authority to order injunctive relief. Westefer v.
Neal, 682 F.3d 679 (7th Cir. 2012). Specifically,
“the remedial injunctive relief must be narrowly drawn,
extend no further than necessary to correct the violation of
the Federal right, and use the least intrusive means
necessary to correct the violation of the Federal
right.” Id. As a result, even if the court
decided that Mr. Dewald was entitled to injunctive relief,
the remedy would be to order the Warden to arrange for a
physician to assess Mr. Dewald's neck injury. However,
the record reflects that he receives a chronic care
appointment for his neck injury every three months, which
indicates that he will soon see a physician even without a
court order. ECF 27 at 2; ECF 51-1 at 1-2. Therefore, the
court concludes that Mr. Dewald won't suffer additional
harm absent injunctive relief.
Mr. Dewald hasn't shown a likelihood of success on the
merits and has not demonstrated that he will suffer
irreparable harm absent injunctive relief. For these reasons,