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Barnett v. Hill

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division

June 24, 2019

NINA HILL, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court upon pro se plaintiff Brandon Nicholas Barnett's motions for injunctive relief, for leave to add exhibits to his complaint, and for appointment of counsel. Plaintiff's request to add complaint exhibits will be granted. However, for the reasons discussed below, plaintiff's second requests for injunctive relief and appointment of counsel will be denied.


         Plaintiff, an inmate at Southeast Correctional Center (“SECC”), filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his civil rights against ten defendants associated with SECC. Plaintiff asserted multiple claims relating to his health problems of body weight deterioration, stomach ulcers, and kidney disease. Upon initial review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court directed the Clerk of Court to issue process upon plaintiff's complaint regarding allegations of deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs as to three defendants: nurse practitioner Nina Hill, kidney specialist Dr. Winkelmeyer, and director of nursing Roxanne Anderson. All other claims and defendants were dismissed. Plaintiff's first motion for appointment of counsel was also denied at that time. See ECF No. 8.

         On March 25, 2019, plaintiff filed his first motion for injunction and temporary restraining order relating to his allegations of delay in medical treatment. ECF No. 18. Plaintiff argued that defendant Hill disregarded a recommendation from kidney disease specialist defendant Dr. Winkelmeyer for plaintiff to have an endoscopy performed and for him to see a urologist.

         The Court denied plaintiff's request for a temporary restraining order, finding that plaintiff failed to demonstrate that he was likely to suffer an immediate and irreparable injury if immediate relief was not granted. ECF No. 20. However, the Court did order an expedited response from defendants regarding plaintiff's arguments for preliminary injunctive relief. Defendants denied that Dr. Winkelmeyer had referred plaintiff to a urologist, submitting medical records in support. Defendant Hill responded that Dr. Winkelmeyer recommended the upper GI endoscopy based on plaintiff's unsubstantiated reports of blood in his vomit, urine, and stool, but that a urinalysis indicated no blood in plaintiff's urine and that plaintiff had refused to provide a stool sample to confirm the presence of blood in his stool. Without any medical evidence of blood in his urine or stool, defendants argued that the endoscopy was not a medical necessity. On May 1, 2019, the Court denied plaintiff's motion first for injunctive relief, finding that it was reasonable for defendant Hill to not request an endoscopy without medical evidence of blood in plaintiff's urine or stool. See ECF No. 37 at 5.

         On May 31, 2019, plaintiff filed a second motion for injunctive relief relating to medical care, and a motion for leave to introduce exhibits to his complaint. On June 17, 2019, plaintiff filed a second motion for appointment of counsel. These motions are now before the Court.

         Motion for Injunctive Relief

         Plaintiff's Arguments

         In plaintiff's second motion for injunctive relief he again requests that the Court order defendants give him an upper GI endoscopy in order to ascertain what is causing the blood in his stool.[1] According to plaintiff, he had blood in his stool for seven days of the ten-day period from May 14 to May 24, 2019. He reports that he provided SECC “nurse Mike” with a stool sample, that he self-declared multiple medical emergencies regarding the blood in his stool, and that multiple SECC correctional officers witnessed the blood in his stool. Plaintiff states that he was informed by a SECC nurse (who is not a defendant here) that “medical can't do anything about blood in stool.” ECF No. 39 at 2. Plaintiff claims a history of hematochezia[2] and asserts that without proper testing his health will continue to deteriorate.

         Legal Standard

         “A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy never awarded as of right.” Winter v. Nat. Res. Def Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008). “Whether a preliminary injunction should issue involves consideration of (1) the threat of irreparable harm to the movant; (2) the state of the balance between this harm and the injury that granting the injunction will inflict on other parties litigant; (3) the probability that movant will succeed on the merits; and (4) the public interest.” Dataphase Sys., Inc. v. C L Sys., Inc., 640 F.2d 109, 113 (8th Cir. 1981). “In balancing the equities no single factor is determinative.” Id. at 113. The relevant inquiry is “whether the balance of equities so favors the movant that justice requires the court to intervene to preserve the status quo until the merits are determined.” Id.

         A request for injunctive relief in the prison context “must always be viewed with great caution because ‘judicial restraint is especially called for in dealing with the complex and intractable problems of prison administration.' ” Goff v. Harper, 60 F.3d 518, 520 (8th Cir. 1995) (quoting Rogers v. Scurr, 676 F.2d 1211, 1214 (8th Cir. 1982)). The burden of proving that a preliminary injunction should be issued rests ...

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