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Huskins v. Fox

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division

August 1, 2018

JONATHAN DAVID HUSKINS, Plaintiff,
v.
FNU FOX, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Frank D. Whitney, Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on initial review of Plaintiff's Complaint, (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. See (Doc. No. 4).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Pro se incarcerated Plaintiff has filed a civil rights suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 with regards to incidents that allegedly occurred at the Alexander Correctional Institution. Plaintiff Huskins, who was born male but identifies as female, names as Defendants Nurse Fox, Nurse Supervisor at Alexander C.I., and Ms. Crump, Head Psychologist and Mental Health Coordinator of Alexander C.I.

         Construing the Complaint liberally and accepting the allegations as true, Plaintiff was diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria by Alexander C.I.'s Mental Health Department on July 19, 2016. She has seen medical and mental health staff numerous times and they have failed to provide any gender-affirming healthcare based on a “Blanket Administrative Policy” rather than individualized medical evaluation, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The lack of treatment is causing severe distress and impairment including anxiety, sadness, depression, self-hatred, and will possibly lead to self-harm.

         Plaintiff seeks prospective and preliminary injunctive relief of hormone therapy and female undergarments.

         II. PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION/TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER

         A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy that is never awarded as of right. Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008); Pashby v. Delia, 709 F.3d 307, 319 (4th Cir. 2013). In each case, courts “must balance the competing claims of injury and must consider the effect on each party of the granting or withholding of the requested relief.” Amoco Prod. Co. v. Village of Gambell, 480 U.S. 531, 542 (1987). To obtain a preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must establish (1) that he is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) that the balance of equities tips in his favor; and (4) that an injunction is in the public interest. Winter, 555 U.S. at 20; Di Biase v. SPX Corp., 872 F.3d 224, 229 (4th Cir. 2017).

         Plaintiff alleges that the lack of hormone treatment and female undergarments are causing sadness and anxiety, and that the denial of treatment may eventually lead to self-harm in the future. However, Plaintiff has failed to establish a reasonable likelihood of prevailing on the merits or that she is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief. Therefore, preliminary injunctive relief is denied.

         III. INITIAL REVIEW STANDARD

         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must review the Complaint to determine whether it is subject to dismissal on the grounds that it is “(i) frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). In its frivolity review, a court must determine whether the Complaint raises an indisputably meritless legal theory or is founded upon clearly baseless factual contentions, such as fantastic or delusional scenarios. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989). A complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim “unless ‘after accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true and drawing all reasonable factual inferences from those facts in the plaintiff's favor, it appears certain that the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his claim entitling him to relief.'” Veney v. Wyche, 293 F.3d 726, 730 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999)).

         A pro se complaint must be construed liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); see also Smith v. Smith, 589 F.3d 736, 738 (4th Cir. 2009) (“Liberal construction of the pleadings is particularly appropriate where … there is a pro se complaint raising civil rights issues.”). However, the liberal construction requirement will not permit a district court to ignore a clear failure to allege facts in his complaint which set forth a claim that is cognizable under federal law. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990). A pro se complaint must still contain sufficient facts “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level” and “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007); see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) (the Twombly plausibility standard applies to all federal civil complaints including those filed under § 1983). This “plausibility standard requires a plaintiff to demonstrate more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). He must articulate facts that, when accepted as true, demonstrate he has stated a claim entitling him to relief. Id.

         IV. DISCUSSION

         “[T]he treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment, ” Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993). In its prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishments, ” the Eighth Amendment places restraints on prison officials, who may not, for ...


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