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Mekuria v. Adams

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 30, 2018

J. ADAMS, Defendant.



         THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services' (“DPSCS”) Response to the Court's November 30, 2017 Show Cause Order.[1] (ECF No. 6). For the reasons set forth more fully below, the Court will deny Plaintiff Mekonnen Mekuria's request for injunctive relief and dismiss the Complaint.


         Mekuria is an inmate currently housed in the Special Needs Unit (“SNU”) at North Branch Correctional Institution (“NBCI”) in Cumberland, Maryland. (Compl. at 1, ECF No. 1; Liller Decl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 6-1).[3] On October 27, 2017, Mekuria filed a Complaint against Justin Adams, [4] a correctional officer at NBCI. (ECF No. 1).[5] In Mekuria's Complaint, he alleges that his life is in danger, that he is being sexually assaulted on a daily basis, and that Adams stole his property. (Compl. at 2-3). Mekuria requests that he be transferred to a different prison and seeks monetary damages. (Id. at 3).

         On November 30, 2017, the Court directed counsel for DPSCS to address the allegations in Mekuria's Complaint and to show cause why injunctive relief should not be granted in favor of Mekuria. (Nov. 30, 2017 Order, ECF No. 3). On December 22, 2017, DPSCS filed its Response.[6] (ECF No. 6).


         A. Preliminary Injunction

         A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish four elements: (1) “he is likely to succeed on the merits”; (2) “he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief”; (3) “the balance of equities tips in his favor”; and (4) “an injunction is in the public interest.” Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008). “All four requirements must be satisfied.” Real Truth About Obama, Inc. v. Fed. Election Comm'n, 575 F.3d 342, 346 (4th Cir. 2009) (citing Winter, 555 U.S. at 20), vacated, 559 U.S. 1089 (2010), and adhered to in part sub nom. The Real Truth About Obama, Inc. v. FEC, 607 F.3d 355 (4th Cir. 2010). A preliminary injunction may only be awarded upon a “clear showing that, among other things, [the plaintiff] is likely to succeed on the merits at trial.” Id. at 345 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         Here, Mekuria fails to establish any of the elements required to impose a preliminary injunction. DPSCS's Response, accompanied by verified business records and a declaration under oath from the Mental Health Program Manager at NCBI, Bruce Liller, indicate that the allegations raised in the Complaint are the product of Mekuria's mental illness. (Liller Decl. ¶¶ 1, 4-11). Liller explains that Mekuria is housed in the SNU because he has a delusional disorder that “lends itself to outlandish claims” and involves “repetitive, obsessive tendencies.” (Id. ¶ 4). Liller further explains that Mekuria's disorder manifests itself in two primary themes. (Id. ¶ 7). First, Mekuria believes that correctional staff (especially female) “want to have sex with him.” (Id.). Second, Mekuria believes that “he is subjected to electronic shock, often to his penis and often with a sexual component.” (Id.). Liller avers to a reasonable degree of certainty in the field of psychology that Mekuria's allegations that he is tortured using electricity, sexually assaulted on a daily basis by electronic devices, and similar allegations are all a product of Mekuria's delusional disorder. (Id. ¶ 11).

         DPSCS's Response and supporting documentation indicate that allegations similar to those raised in Mekuria's Complaint have been the topic of administrative investigations. When Mekuria filed written claims of sexual assault through the administrative remedy procedure or contacted the Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”) hotline to lodge similar allegations, the Internal Investigation Division (“IID”) investigated them and concluded that they were unfounded and possibly a product of Mekuria's delusional disorder. (Defs.' Resp. Ex. 2, ECF No. 6-2; id. Ex. 5 at 2-28, 42- 55, ECF No. 6-5; Rozas Decl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 6-4).

         Mekuria is assigned to the SNU for purposes of providing him access to psychology staff and to insure that he is “less likely to present a safety risk to himself and to others.” (Liller Decl. ¶¶ 7-8). Liller explains that the correctional officers assigned to work at the SNU are provided with special training to deal with inmates who suffer from mental illness like Mekuria. (Id.). Liller further explains that inmates housed in the SNU meet monthly with psychology staff to discuss their concerns and treatment options; such meetings are not provided to general population inmates. (Id. ¶ 9).

         The only named Defendant, Adams, states under oath that he did what he could to promote Mekuria's safety and welfare and that he never stole any of Mekuria's property. (Adams Decl. ¶¶ 6, 8, ECF No. 6-3). Adams also explains that he no longer works in the SNU, (Id. ¶ 1), and, consequently, no longer has any contact with Mekuria, obviating any need for injunctive relief to prevent Mekuria's contact with Adams.

         Mekuria does not offer any evidence to rebut the assertions in DPSCS's Response and its accompanying documentation. Indeed, Mekuria's December 27, 2017 correspondence (ECF No. 7) and Amended Complaint (ECF No. 9) repeat many of the same allegations and attempt to bring new ones against persons not party to this suit. Put simply, they are not responsive to DPSCS's assertions and evidence.

         In sum, Mekuria has not put forth any evidence to satisfy the necessary elements for imposing a preliminary injunction. The Court, therefore, concludes that a preliminary injunction is not warranted in this case. ...

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