Smith v. Aroostook County, No. 19-1340 (1st Cir. 2019)

Annotate this Case
Justia Opinion Summary

The First Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of a preliminary injunction compelling Defendants to provide Plaintiff with medication while she is incarcerated, holding that the district court properly found that a preliminary injunction was warranted under the circumstances of this case.

Plaintiff, who was due to be incarcerated for forty days in the county jail, was informed that she was not to receive her twice daily dose of buprenorphine prescribed for an "opioid use disorder" while incarcerated. Plaintiff brought this suit seeking injunctive relief compelling Defendants to provide her medication while she was incarcerated. The district court found a sufficient likelihood of success combined with both a strong balance of harms and a public interest in favor of Plaintiff so as to warrant a preliminary injunction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in its preliminary assessment of the issues that must be balanced in deciding a request for preliminary injunctive relief.

Download PDF
United States Court of Appeals For the First Circuit No. 19-1340 BRENDA SMITH Plaintiff, Appellee, v. AROOSTOOK COUNTY; SHAWN D. GILLEN, in his official capacity as Sheriff of Aroostook County Defendants, Appellants. APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MAINE [Hon. Nancy Torresen, Chief U.S. District Judge] Before Howard, Chief Judge, Lynch and Kayatta, Circuit Judges. Peter T. Marchesi, Cassandra S. Shaffer, and Wheeler & Arey, P.A., on brief for appellants. Zachary L. Heiden, Emma E. Bond, ACLU of Maine Foundation, Peter Mancuso, Andrew Schmidt Law PLLC, David A. Soley, James G. Monteleone, and Bernstein Shur, on brief for appellees. April 30, 2019 Per curiam. In considering the defendants' appeal of a preliminary injunction entered by the district court, we will set aside the ruling only if the court clearly erred in assessing the facts, misapprehended the applicable legal principles, otherwise is shown to have abused its discretion. or See Wine and Spirits Retailers, Inc. v. Rhode Island, 418 F.3d 36, 46 (1st Cir. 2005). Brenda Smith receives a twice daily dose of buprenorphine prescribed by her classifies as an doctor opioid as use treatment disorder. for what Smith is her doctor due to incarcerated for forty days at the Aroostook County Jail. be Jail officials informed her counsel that she would not receive her medication while incarcerated. Her physician opines without serious contradiction that prior efforts to take Smith off her medication have not been successful and that her medication is necessary to her continued health; he and other witnesses opine that, given her medical history, forced and immediate withdrawal from buprenorphine will cause her painful symptoms and increase her risk of relapse, overdose, and death. She therefore brought this suit seeking, among other things, injunctive relief compelling the defendants to provide her medication while she is incarcerated. Defendants replied, in part, that whether she receives the medication will depend on a case-by-case medical assessment. Defendants, though, do not actually plan to obtain such an assessment from a - 2 - qualified doctor prior to incarcerating Smith. On this preliminary record, the district court considered the likelihood of Smith prevailing on a claim for discrimination under 42 Title U.S.C. balance of II of Disabilities Act, ยง 12132; the potential for irreparable harm; the harms; defendants' own alternatives at the and Americans the submissions their with public tout disposal the for interest. variety providing Noting that of reasonable Smith with her medication in a manner that alleviates any security concerns, the district court found a sufficient likelihood of success combined with both a strong balance of harms and a public interest in favor of Smith so as to warrant a preliminary injunction ordering the jail to provide Smith with her medication as prescribed while she is incarcerated. We previously denied the defendants' request for a stay of the district court's order. Now we address the merits of the defendants' appeal of that order. Having carefully considered the record and the parties' briefs, we find no abuse of discretion by the district court in its preliminary assessment of the issues that must be balanced in deciding a request for preliminary injunctive relief. The preliminary injunction is affirmed. The motions of the American Medical Association, American Society for Addiction - 3 - Medicine, Maine Addiction Medicine, Association of Medical Association, Connecticut Psychiatric Connecticut State Physicians, Medical Society Society, Massachusetts for Maine Medical Society, Massachusetts Society of Addiction Medicine, New Hampshire Medical Society, Northern New England Society for Addiction Medicine, Rhode Island Medical Society, Rhode Island Society for Addiction Medicine, Vermont Medical Society, Joshua M. Sharfstein, Brendan Saloner, Colleen Barry, Noa Krawczyk, Jenny Wen, and Jia Ahmad for leave to file amicus briefs on behalf of Smith are denied as moot. - 4 -

Primary Holding

The First Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of a preliminary injunction compelling Defendants to provide Plaintiff with medication while she is incarcerated, holding that the district court properly found that a preliminary injunction was warranted under the circumstances of this case.

Disclaimer: Justia Annotations is a forum for attorneys to summarize, comment on, and analyze case law published on our site. Justia makes no guarantees or warranties that the annotations are accurate or reflect the current state of law, and no annotation is intended to be, nor should it be construed as, legal advice. Contacting Justia or any attorney through this site, via web form, email, or otherwise, does not create an attorney-client relationship.