Mental Health Meds Cannot Be Restricted
Porretti v. Dzurenda Docket: 20-16111, Opinion Date: August 30, 2021. Porretti, a 62-year-old prisoner, has suffered from serious mental illnesses—Tourette’s syndrome, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, personality disorder, and paranoid schizophrenia— throughout his life. Porretti’s mental illnesses have caused him to attempt suicide and to suffer psychotic symptoms, including compulsive ingestion of metal objects like razor blades, paranoid delusions, hallucinations, and verbal tics. Porretti received Wellbutrin and Seroquel for his mental illnesses before he was incarcerated in Nevada and after he entered into the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC). In 2017, without the recommendation of a healthcare provider, NDOC stopped providing his medication because of a new administrative policy. The Ninth Circuit upheld a preliminary injunction requiring prison officials to provide Porretti’s Wellbutrin and Seroquel. The district court carefully applied the preliminary-injunction factors and rendered highly detailed factual findings that rejected opinions from NDOC’s experts for reasons grounded in the record evidence; Porretti’s Eighth Amendment claim was likely to succeed on the merits and he would suffer irreparable harm in the form of “very serious or extreme damage to his mental health” if injunctive relief were not granted. Porretti’s severe and persistent psychotic symptoms overwhelmingly outweighed NDOC’s financial or logistical burdens in providing Wellbutrin and Seroquel. An injunction was in the public’s interest because prisons must comply with the standard of care mandated by the Eighth Amendment.
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