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Brownlee v. Murphy

August 15, 2008

TERRENCE BROWNLEE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MURPHY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gregory G. Hollows United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Introduction

Pending before the court is defendants' 10/09/07, motion for summary judgment, following reversal and remand of this matter, to which motion plaintiff filed opposition.

As this court has previously noted:

Judgment for defendants was entered in this prisoner civil rights action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, on March 31, 2006. Plaintiff appealed and, on June 4, 2007, this case was reversed: 1) as to the grant of summary judgment for the defendant prison guards on plaintiff's Eighth Amendment excessive force claim;*fn1 and 2) as to the dismissal of plaintiff's due process claim with regard to subsequent disciplinary action.

With respect to the excessive force claim, the Ninth Circuit having found that the district court should not have granted summary judgment on the first prong of Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194 (2001), this matter has been remanded:

1) to determine whether, under Brownlee's description of the facts, the guards are eligible for qualified immunity under Saucier's second prong, and

2) if they are not so eligible, to resolve this genuine issue of material fact.

Order, filed on 6/21/07, pp. 1-2, and Ninth Circuit Opinion, filed 5/08/07,*fn2 pp. 2-3. The legal standard for summary judgment having been previously set forth in this matter, the court incorporates it herewith by reference. See Findings and Recommendations, filed on 2/01/06, pp. 7-9, adopted by Order, filed on 3/31/06.

Excessive Force

The facts of plaintiff's Eighth Amendment excessive force allegations in his complaint, for which plaintiff seeks money damages only, including compensatory and punitive, as previously set forth by the court are:

Plaintiff alleges that on January 18, 2001, he was subjected to excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment when defendants Murphy, Snyder, Lytle and Prado, "rushed" him; these defendants comprised several of a number of correctional staff "involved in a confrontation with other inmates," occurring a few minutes prior to the time plaintiff was "assaulted." Complaint (cmpl.), pp. 8-10.*fn3 Plaintiff had been using the phone and was not involved in the immediately preceding altercation. Cmpl., p. 11. Plaintiff states that he was ordered back into another section by defendant Snyder, but that the door would not open because some 40 inmates were trying to get out. Cmpl., p. 9. Plaintiff, allegedly having witnessed two inmates being beaten by staff, avers that he told defendant Snyder that what was happening was wrong, after which defendant Murphy purportedly ordered that plaintiff be cuffed and taken, along with others, "to the hole." Id. It was then that plaintiff claims that defendants Murphy, Snyder, Lytle and Prado, as well as others unnamed, converged on plaintiff with plaintiff's hands being pulled behind him by defendants Snyder and Prado and with his right leg pulled up behind him "in the air as far as Sergeant Murphy and Sergeant Lytle could push it." Cmpl., pp. 9-10. Plaintiff claims that his back began to hurt at that point, but nothing was done for him by an unnamed M.T.A., brought to plaintiff by a non-defendant officer, on that occasion. Cmpl., p. 10.

Plaintiff states at his "C.D.C. 114D" (or C.D.C. 115 rule violation) disciplinary hearing, held on January 25, 2001, arising from the subject incident, that he had told staff that they were "doing the wrong" [sic] to the two inmates allegedly being beaten on that occasion. Id.

Findings and Recommendations, filed on 2/01/06, pp. 2-3. Plaintiff claims to have suffered and that he continues to endure intense pain from the injury to his back which has not been adequately treated. Findings and Recommendations, filed on 1/01/06, p. 3; Complaint, pp. 10-12. As plaintiff's claim for inadequate medical care having disposed of previously, the court only notes this as it relates to plaintiff's claim of injury as a result of the actions of defendants Murphy, Snyder, Lytle and Prado. Plaintiff seeks relief in the form of money damages only, including compensatory and punitive.

Defendants Murphy, Lytle, Snyder and Prado move for summary judgment on the grounds that they "are entitled to qualified immunity because officers in their position would have reasonably believed their conduct was lawful." Motion for Summary ...


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