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MITCHELL v. VILLA

November 8, 2005.

ROBERT MITCHELL, Plaintiff,
v.
L. VILLA, Correctional Officer, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LOUISA PORTER, Magistrate Judge

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING MOTION TO SANCTION DEFENDANT'S ATTORNEY
[Doc. Nos. 31, 32, 39, 44]
I. Introduction
Plaintiff Robert Mitchell is a state prisoner proceeding in propria persona on a complaint for violation of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment or partial summary judgment and Plaintiff's motion to sanction Defendant's counsel. After thorough review of Plaintiff's motions, Defendant's opposition, and all supporting documents, this Court recommends that both Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment or partial summary judgment and motion for sanctions be DENIED.

II. Procedural Background

  On June 11, 2003, Plaintiff Robert Mitchell, a state inmate incarcerated at Centinela State Prison at the time of the events, filed a pro per civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff concurrently filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis ("IFP"). The Honorable Judith N. Keep granted Plaintiff's IFP motion on September 23, 2003.

  Plaintiff raises five claims in his Complaint. First, he alleges that Defendant Villa, a correctional officer at Centinela, retaliated against him after he filed a grievance against Defendant Villa. (Compl. at 7-10.) Second, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Villa violated his right to petition the government for grievances. (Id. at 10-12.) Third, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Villa engaged in "Due Process Equal Protection and Liberty Interest Violations[.]" (Id. at 12-13.) Fourth, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Villa was negligent. (Id. at 14.) Plaintiff's final claim is for "Torts in Essence[.]" (Id. at 15-16.) In his Complaint, Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages. (Id. at 17.)

  On May 27, 2005, Plaintiff requested a hearing date for the purposes of filing a Motion for Summary Judgment. [Doc. No. 26]. In an order dated June 7, 2005, this Court issued a scheduling order and a hearing date for the motion. [Doc. No. 27].

  On June 21, 2005, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment or Partial Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. [Doc. No. 32]. Concurrently, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Sanction Defendant's Attorney of Record pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. [Doc. No. 31]. On August 12, 2005, Defendant filed an opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and for Sanctions. [Doc. No. 39]. On August 17, 2005, Plaintiff filed his reply to Defendant's Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion. [Doc. No. 44]. By previous order, this Court deemed Plaintiff's Motion submitted without oral argument.

  III. Factual Background

  Plaintiff's complaint alleges that on January 22, 2003, Correctional Officer Villa forced Plaintiff to forego a shower. (Compl. at 3.) According to Plaintiff, Defendant Villa and Correctional Officer Delgadillo were responsible for conducting inmate showers on the day in question. (Id.) The complaint alleges that Defendant attempted to force Plaintiff and inmate Grigsby to shower together in a single capacity shower. (Id.) Plaintiff contends that he informed Defendant that it would be hazardous for two people to shower together in a single shower. Further, Plaintiff claims that he told Defendant that he is disabled and requires a special handicap seat when he showers. (Id.) After Plaintiff requested to see a program status report authorizing two inmates in a single shower, Defendant denied Plaintiff a shower. (Id.) On January 26, 2003, Plaintiff filed a citizen's complaint against Defendant Villa regarding the January 22, 2003, incident. (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff's complaint also alleges that on March 10, 2003, Defendant approached him at the drinking fountain and attempted to provoke Plaintiff into a physical altercation. (Id.) Plaintiff claims that he walked away and tried to return to his cell. (Id.) Defendant directed Correctional Officers Tyler and Ryan to activate the emergency alarm. (Id. at 5.) At that point, all inmates got down on the floor in compliance with policy. (Id.) Plaintiff and another inmate were placed into mechanical restraints and escorted to the Program Office where they were put in security cages. (Id.) According to Plaintiff, he was the only one that received a disciplinary rules violation in relation to the incident. (Id.) On March 13, 2003, Plaintiff filed a citizen's complaint against Defendant Villa regarding the March 10, 2003, incident. (Id.)

  Plaintiff claims that on March 24, 2003, 11 days after Plaintiff filed his second complaint against Defendant, he was approached by "several unknown `gang affiliated' inmates" who attempted to intimidate him into dropping his complaints against Defendant. (Id.) Plaintiff refused to drop his complaints against Defendant. (Id. at 6.)

  On April 7, 2003, Plaintiff received a disciplinary hearing regarding the March 10, 2003, incident. (Id.) Plaintiff informed the hearing officer that Defendant was discussing Plaintiff's complaints with other inmates. (Id.) As a result of the hearing, Plaintiff was found guilty of refusing a direct order in violation of CCR § 3005(B). (Id.)

  After the hearing, Plaintiff claims that he witnessed Defendant telling "several unknown `gang affiliated' inmates" about what Plaintiff said at the hearing. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he was again confronted by the "gang affiliated" inmates who threatened to physically harm Plaintiff if he did not drop his charges against Defendant. (Id.) Plaintiff claims that out of fear for his safety, he withdrew his remaining complaint against Defendant. (Id.)

  Plaintiff filed the instant suit against Defendant on June 11, 2003, alleging that Defendant's alleged retaliation against him for filing grievances resulted in a denial of Plaintiff's constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. (Motion for Summary Judgment at 3.)

  IV. Discussion

  Plaintiff claims that he was singled out and retaliated against for exercising his constitutional rights. (Motion for Summary Judgment at 4.) Plaintiff also argues that he was denied the right to file grievances against the Defendant because he feared for his safety as a result of Defendant's discussions with other inmates. (Id. at 10.) Additionally, Plaintiff claims he was "denied equal protection, liberty, interest [sic] and due ...


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