United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Thomas, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a motion for a
preliminary injunction for a transfer to a facility with a
specialized mental health unit. He currently proceeds on a
First Amendment claim of retaliation and an Eighth Amendment
claim of deliberate indifference for his transfer from the
New Castle Correctional Facility to the Westville Control
Unit in March 2017 and on an Eighth Amendment claim of
deliberate indifference for failing to prevent him from
attempting suicide in March 2018.
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).
“[t]he PLRA circumscribes the scope of the court's
authority to enter an injunction in the corrections context.
Where prison conditions are found to violate federal rights,
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. This section of
the PLRA enforces a point repeatedly made by the Supreme
Court in cases challenging prison conditions: Prison
officials have broad administrative and discretionary
authority over the institutions they manage.”
Westefer v. Neal, 682 F.3d 679 (7th Cir. 2012).
support of the instant motion, Thomas submitted his medical
records from January 2016 through November 2018, and,
according to these medical records, the following occurred.
On January 30, 2016, Thomas was placed on suicide watch at
the Westville Control Unit after threatening to cut his wrist
if he did not receive a twenty-five hundred calorie diet. ECF
11-4 at 5-6. On April 7, Thomas voiced suicidal intent and
cut his wrists because his food tray was delivered late. ECF
11-5 at 105-08.
April 20, 2016, he transferred to the New Castle Correctional
Facility. Id. at 190-93. On intake, he told Dr.
Keris that “he had recently claimed suicide in order to
be removed from his current housing situation and that he did
not really want to die, ” and Dr. Keris noted that he
had a history of engaging in acts of self-harm to manipulate
his housing assignments. Id. at 202-06. In reviewing
his mental health records, Dr. Keris noted that Thomas
frequently complained of anxiety and hallucinations but
medical staff rarely observed any sign of these symptoms.
Id. His diagnoses included antisocial personality
disorder and paranoid schizophrenia, and his psychotropic
medications included Risperdal. Id. On April 29, he
underwent an initial psychiatric evaluation, and Dr. Burdine
noted that he had been sent to the Westville Control Unit
because he had attempted to murder his cellmate. Id.
at 213-23. She further noted that Thomas had shown few
objective signs of schizophrenia. Id. She planned to
discontinue his psychotropic medication to allow for a
baseline observation for diagnostic purposes. Id.
28, 2016, Dr. Burdine observed no changes as a result of the
discontinuing his medication. ECF 11-6 at 56-59. On July 14,
mental health staff discussed Thomas' treatment plan and
concluded that he should not have been transferred to New
Castle Correctional Facility based on his stable mental
condition even without medication. Id. at 68-69.
However, they noted his behavioral issues, which included
episodes of intense anger when he did not get his way.
Id. On August 25, a mental health therapist noted
that Thomas had been refusing to attend group therapy and
refused to discuss a new treatment plan. Id. at
102-03. She opined that Thomas' mental condition did not
warrant a paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis because Thomas had
been stable without medication for four months with no signs
of psychosis. Id.
October 6, 2016, mental health staff discussed Thomas's
treatment plan and noted his refusal to attend individual and
group therapy sessions. Id. at 146-48. They observed
that Thomas would alternate between insisting that he was
seriously mentally ill and asserting that there was nothing
wrong with him based on which position was more advantageous
to him at any given time. Id. They found that he had
made no progress during the last ninety days. Id.
They also noted that he had shown no signs of psychosis after
six months without psychotropic medication. Id.
Based on these observations, they recommended a transfer to
another facility. Id. On October 11, 2016, Dr. Keris
noted that Thomas exhibited no signs of psychosis or of
responding to internal stimuli after six months without
psychotropic medication. Id. at 155-58. She
described him as very organized and logical but manipulative
and impulsive with a tendency to believe that others are
working against him. Id. Based on these
observations, she replaced the diagnosis of paranoid
schizophrenia with borderline personality disorder.
Id. On December 29, 2016, mental health staff noted
no signs of psychosis after nine months without psychotropic
medication. ECF 11-7 at 9-11.
March 7, 2017, Thomas transferred to the Westville Control
Unit, and mental health staff determined that Thomas did not
meet the criteria for an inmate with a serious mental
illness. Id. at 76-82, 95-96. On March 8, Thomas
began complaining on a daily basis through medical requests
and in person that he heard voices instructing him to engage
in self harm. See e.g., ECF 1-7 at 18-40; ECF 1-8;
ECF 1-9. From April 1, 2017, to January 18, 2018, Dr.
Eichmann responded by restarting Thomas on psychotropic
medication and increasing the dosage on five separate
occasions. ECF 11-7 at 126-28, 149-51, 169-71; ECF 11-8 at
5-8, 45-48, 81-84. He also received weekly visits from mental
health staff as well as individual therapy sessions on a
monthly basis. See e.g., ECF 11-7 at 154, 166,
172-74, 187, 199-201. On December 19, 2017, a mental health
therapist noted that Thomas had been placed on a razor
restriction after stating that he wanted to cut his wrists
with a razor. ECF 11-8 at 70-72.
March 12, 2018, Thomas cut his wrists with a razor found in
the shower and reported that he did so due to voices
instructing him to engage in self harm. Id. at
109-10. He was moved to an observation unit and was placed on
constant suicide monitoring. Id. at 111-12. A mental
health therapist noted that there were no signs that Thomas
had experienced hallucinatory commands other than his report
and that he had asked her about a new housing assignment.
Id. at 113-16. She assessed a high likelihood that
Thomas engaged in this act of self-harm to manipulate his
housing assignment. Id. On March 13, Thomas reported
that he was no longer suicidal and that he was ready to be
released from suicide observation. Id. at 122-24. He
was stepped down from constant observation to close
observation. Id. On March 14, Thomas had no
complaints, and he was removed from suicide observation.
Id. at 130-31. Mental health staff continued to
monitor Thomas as a suicide risk until April 11. Id.
8, 2018, Dr. Eichman planned to wean Thomas from psychotropic
medication to clarify his diagnosis, and she lowered his
dosage of Haldol. Id. at 186-89. On May 17, a mental
health therapist observed no mental health symptoms.
Id. at 200-01. On May 30, a mental health therapist
noted complaints of visual hallucinations but observed that
these complaints were inconsistent with Thomas' demeanor
and behavior. ECF 11-9 at 11-12. In June and July 2018, Dr.
Eichman continued to wean Thomas from psychotropic
medication, noting that he remained asymptomatic.
Id. at 21-24, 54-56. On August 21, Dr. Eichman
discontinued Thomas' psychotropic medication and noted no
observed signs of mood disorder or psychosis since she began
to wean him. Id. at 112-13. On September 18, Thomas
refused to attend a scheduled appointment with Dr. Eichman.
Id. at 157-58. On September 21, Thomas reported the
inability to sleep, racing thoughts, a lack of focus, and
hearing voices. Id. at 169-70. A mental health
therapist found these reports inconsistent with his ability
to hold a rational conversation, perform legal work, and his
well-rested appearance. Id. On September 25, Thomas
went to the law library instead of attending a scheduled
appointment with Dr. Eichman. Id. at 174-75.
September 27, 2018, Thomas cut his left wrist with a razor.
Id. at 186-87. He was moved to an observation unit
and was placed on constant suicide monitoring, where he
continued to report suicidal intent. Id. at 188-90.
On October 4, he denied suicidal intent and asked to restart
psychotropic medication. ECF 11-10 at 31-34. He was stepped
down from constant observation to close observation.
Id. On October 8, he was released from suicide
watch. Id. at 54-56. On October 15, Thomas reported
no mental health issues and denied thoughts of self-harm.
Id. at 74-75. A mental health therapist observed him
joking and laughing. Id. On October 22, Thomas
reported paranoia, anxiety, the inability to sleep, and
passing thoughts of self-harm. Id. at 90-91. A
mental health therapist observed that he did not present as
anxious but joked and laughed during the therapy session.
Id. On October 24, Thomas reported that he did not
have coping skills. Id. at 103-04. When a mental
health therapist raised Thomas' earlier reports of coping
by reading and exercising, Thomas said that he did not
remember that. Id. The therapist observed
Thomas' extensive legal work and ability to keep his room