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Norwood v. Woodford

September 5, 2008

GREGORY NORWOOD, CDC # J- 53407, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JEANNE WOODFORD, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William Q. Hayes United States District Judge

ORDER

HAYES, Judge

The matters before the Court are the Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint filed by Jeanne Woodford and Gerald Janda (Doc. # 33); the Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint filed by Jeanne Woodford, Gerald Janda and M Bourland (Doc. # 44); the Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint filed by Jeanne Woodford, Gerald Janda, M Bourland, and J Giurbino (Doc. # 58); and the Report and Recommendation filed by Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler (Doc. # 69).

Background

On January 8, 2007, Plaintiff Gregory Norwood, a state prisoner, initiated this action by filing a complaint (Doc. # 1). On April 16, 2007, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint ("FAC") (Doc. # 12), which is the operative pleading in this case. The FAC alleges that Defendants Woodford, Janda, Bourland and Giurbino deprived Plaintiff of outdoor exercise from November 7, 2005 to December 16, 2006, a period of 39 days, in violation of his rights as protected by the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The FAC alleges that "Defendants motives were to use the deprivation period as a means to punish Plaintiff." FAC, p. 5. The FAC alleges that Woodford was the Director of California State Prisons at the time of the deprivation and that she "knew that plaintiff's period of deprivation existed. And this defendant approved of it." Id. The FAC alleges that Giurbino was Warden of Calipatria State Prison and "is responsible for plaintiffs custody treatment and discipline and had to approve the lockdown." Id. The FAC alleges that Bourland was Chief Deputy Warden of Calipatria State Prison and that Janda was Associate Warden. The FAC alleges that Bourland and Janda knew of Plaintiff's deprivation because they were served with an institutional grievance filed by Plaintiff, yet did not provide Plaintiff with any outdoor exercise opportunities. Id. at 6. The FAC also alleges that Defendants retaliated against him for asserting his protected right to be free from harm, in violation of his rights as protected by the First Amendment.

On November 13, 2007, January 7, 2008 and March 27, 2008, Defendants filed Motions to Dismiss (Docs. # 33, 44, 58) pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The grounds for dismissing the FAC are the same in each Motion to Dismiss. Specifically, Defendants move to dismiss the FAC on grounds that Plaintiff fails to state a claim for violation of the Eighth Amendment because Plaintiff "has not satisfied either the objective or subjective requirements of a claim for deprivation of outdoor exercise in that Plaintiff was not denied the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities, and there was no deliberate indifference" by any Defendant. (Docs. # 33, p. 3; 44, p. 4; 58, p. 4). Defendants also contend that they are entitled to qualified immunity. Plaintiff filed oppositions to the Motions to Dismiss (Docs. # 45, 61).

On June 30, 2008, Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler filed a Report and Recommendation ("R&R") recommending that the Court (1) deny the Motions to Dismiss the FAC, and (2) dismiss all claims against Defendant Sergeant Rutledge. The R&R concludes that Plaintiff has satisfied the objective requirement to state an Eighth Amendment claim because Plaintiff has alleged that he was denied outdoor exercise for 39 days, and "Plaintiff's alleged deprivation is sufficiently close in duration to the deprivations . . . that Eighth Amendment protection may be invoked." R&R, p. 9. The R&R concludes that Plaintiff has satisfied the subjective requirement to state an Eighth Amendment claim on grounds that Plaintiff alleges that each Defendant acted with deliberate indifference because they knew that the lack of outdoor exercise presented a risk to Plaintiff's health and safety, yet either directed or approved of the deprivation. The R&R concludes that Plaintiff has sufficiently alleged the objective and subjective elements of an Eighth Amendment claim. The R&R further concludes that Defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity because Plaintiff has alleged an Eighth Amendment claim and "any reasonable official in Defendants' positions would have understood that the denial of outdoor exercise for an extended period of time was unconstitutional. The Eighth Amendment may be violated even in a lockdown situation." R&R, p. 17.

On July 17, 2008, Defendants filed objections to the R&R (Doc. # 72). On July 30, 2008, Plaintiff filed a response to Defendants' objections (Doc. # 77).

Standard of Review

A. Rule 72 - Review of a Report and Recommendation The duties of the district court in connection with the Report and Recommendation of a Magistrate Judge are set forth in Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). The district judge "must make a de novo determination of those portions of the report . . . to which objection is made," and "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b).

B. Rule 12(b)(6) - Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure tests the legal sufficiency of the pleadings. See De La Cruz v. Tormey, 582 F.2d 45, 48 (9th Cir. 1978). A complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) where the factual allegations do not raise the right to relief above the speculative level. See Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007). Conversely, a complaint may not be dismissed for failure to state a claim where the allegations plausibly show that the pleader is entitled to relief. See id. (citing Fed R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)). In ruling on a motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court must construe the pleadings in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and must accept as true all material allegations in the complaint, as well as any reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom. See Broam v. Bogan, 320 F.3d 1023, 1028 (9th Cir. 2003); see also Chang v. Chen, 80 F.3d 1293 (9th Cir. 1996). The court looks not at whether the plaintiff will "ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).

Where a plaintiff appears pro se, the court must construe the pleadings liberally and afford the plaintiff any benefit of the doubt. Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dept., 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988). The rule of liberal construction is "particularly important in civil ...


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