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Collier v. Brown

February 2, 2009

TRACY L. COLLIER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
L. BROWN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Consuelo B. Marshall United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

PROCEEDINGS

Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights action for damages on February 21, 2006, alleging that prison officials at the Chuckawalla State Prison violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights. The Third Amended Complaint, the operative pleading, names as Defendants: Correctional Officers L. Brown, B. Terry and J. LaCuesta, Sergeant K. Gibbons, Captain B. Mathews, and Deputy Warden J. Cortez, all sued in their individual capacities only.

On August 1, 2008, Plaintiff filed: (1) a Motion for Summary Judgment with respect to his claims against Defendants Brown, Gibbons and LaCuesta ("Motion I"); and (2) a Motion for Summary Judgment with respect to his claims against Defendants Cortez, Terry and Mathews ("Motion II"). On September 3, 2008, Defendants filed Oppositions to both Motions. On the same date, Defendants filed Evidentiary Objections.

SUMMARY OF ALLEGATIONS OF THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT

In his unverified Third Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges the following:

On June 5, 2005, Plaintiff allegedly was confined in administrative segregation "for a violation of 314", assertedly in retaliation for filing staff complaints (Third Amended Complaint ["TAC"], p. 11).*fn1 On July 18, 2005, Defendant Gibbons allegedly assaulted Plaintiff at the instigation of Defendant Brown, and Defendant LaCuesta assertedly failed to protect Plaintiff from the assault (TAC, pp. 7, 11). On July 28, 2005, the warden allegedly released Plaintiff back to the general prison population (TAC, p. 11).

On August 18, 2005, Plaintiff allegedly was transferred to Ironwood State Prison and confined in the "hole," assertedly in retaliation for filing a staff complaint (id.). Defendant Terry thereafter allegedly produced an assertedly unlawful and retaliatory lock-up order to confine Plaintiff in administrative segregation (id.).

On November 22, 2005, Defendant Mathews allegedly confined Plaintiff in administrative segregation, and Defendant Terry allegedly told Plaintiff that Plaintiff could receive an indefinite SHU (Security Housing Unit) term depending on the outcome of his court case (TAC, p. 12). On December 16, 2005, Defendant Cortez allegedly released Plaintiff from administrative segregation (id.). However, on December 22, 2005, Defendants Terry and Mathews allegedly caused Plaintiff to be returned to administrative segregation in the absence of a lock-up order (id.).

Among the exhibits attached to the Third Amended Complaint is an inmate grievance, bearing a submission date of December 14, 2004, in which Plaintiff alleged that various female staff members, including Defendant Brown, had conspired to harass Plaintiff and accuse him falsely of sexual misconduct (TAC, Exhibits, pp. 18-19). Plaintiff also attaches an "Administrative Segregation Unit Placement Notice," dated August 18, 2005, indicating Plaintiff was placed in administrative segregation "to preserve the integrity of an investigation involving [Plaintiff's] allegations of misconduct by CVSP's Administrative Segregation Staff following your Administrative Segregation placement of 06/06/05" (TAC, Exhibits, p. 21). The Notice indicated Plaintiff would be retained in the Administrative Segregation Unit at Ironwood State Prison pending the conclusion of the investigation and review by the Classification Committee (id.).

Defendant Mathews signed the document as Administrative Reviewer (id.). Another exhibit indicates that, on August 25, 2005, Plaintiff appeared at a classification hearing chaired by Defendant Cortez (TAC, Exhibits, p. 22). The Committee decided to retain Plaintiff in administrative segregation pending the investigation (id.).

A Classification Committee document dated December 16, 2005 indicates that, on August 23, 2006, the Riverside County District Attorney's Office accepted the case against Plaintiff for prosecution (TAC, p. 24). The Classification Committee, chaired by Defendant Cortez, decided to release Plaintiff from administrative segregation and to recommend a transfer to Ironwood State Prison (id.).

Another document shows that, on December 22, 2005, the Classification Committee, whose members included Chairperson Cortez and Defendants Mathews and Terry, amended the December 16, 2005 order, and directed that Plaintiff be confined in administrative segregation (TAC, p. 25). The Committee noted that Plaintiff's Central File revealed that Plaintiff had three prior Rules Violation Reports for indecent exposure, sexual conduct and masturbation, that the Riverside County District Attorney's Office had accepted the indecent exposure case for prosecution, and that a jury trial in that case was set for January 11, 2006 (id.). The Committee indicated that Plaintiff's sexual misconduct violations met the criteria for referral to a Departmental Review Board ("DRB") for consideration of an indeterminate SHU term (id.). Therefore, the Committee amended its action of December 16, 2005, and ordered Plaintiff confined in administrative segregation pending a final decision of the DRB referral (id.).

Plaintiff alleges four claims for relief:

Claim One (Retaliation against Defendant Brown; Excessive Force against Defendants Gibbons and LaCuesta)

In Claim One, Plaintiff alleges that, on July 18, 2005, Defendant Brown, who was not regularly assigned to administrative segregation, approached Plaintiff's cell, looked in, and then walked away without saying anything (TAC, p. 7). Two hours later, Defendant Gibbons allegedly handcuffed Plaintiff, squeezing the handcuffs to reduce blood flow to Plaintiff's hand and fingers (id.). Plaintiff allegedly was pushed into an empty office, where Gibbons assertedly summoned Defendant LaCuesta and instructed him to close the door (id.). Defendant Gibbons allegedly began to question Plaintiff concerning the reasons for Plaintiff's administrative segregation placement (id.). Plaintiff allegedly responded: "Look it up --- where's Capt. Gonzalez?" (id.). Defendant Gibbons allegedly went behind Plaintiff, placed his hand around the back of Plaintiff's neck, and slammed the right side of Plaintiff's face down on the desktop, stating "don't fuck with my female staff understand!" According to Plaintiff, Gibbons repeatedly pounded Plaintiff's face against the desktop (id.).

Defendant LaCuesta allegedly stood watching and making sure the door remained closed (id.). When Plaintiff assertedly yelled "Get your hands off me," Gibbons allegedly stopped the assault and assertedly told Plaintiff that Defendant Brown had told Gibbons all about Plaintiff (id.). Gibbons allegedly found out that Brown assertedly had issued Plaintiff a Rules Violation Report charging Plaintiff with masturbation and that Plaintiff had filed a grievance against Brown alleging retaliation (id.). Plaintiff allegedly asked how this information was relevant to the assault, and Gibbons assertedly replied that he didn't know what was going on, but that he would back his staff (id.).

Plaintiff alleges Defendant Brown retaliated against Plaintiff for two staff complaints Plaintiff filed against Brown by manipulating Defendant Gibbons into assaulting Plaintiff for Brown's personal benefit (id.). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Gibbons allegedly inflicted excessive force on Plaintiff, and that Defendant LaCuesta failed to ...


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