IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
February 3, 2009
CHARLES T. DAVIS, PLAINTIFF,
C/O KISSINGER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a civil rights action seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The matter is before the court on plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment brought pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendants have filed an opposition to the motion and plaintiff has filed a reply.
Plaintiff is proceeding on his original complaint. Therein, he alleges as follows. On August 21, 2001, he and his fellow inmates filed a group appeal alleging that defendant Kissinger improperly targets African American inmates and deliberately attempts to provoke them by searching their cells, using racial slurs against them, and withholding and contaminating their food. Two days after filing that appeal, defendant Kissinger asked plaintiff and his cellmate if they wished to shower. Plaintiff responded yes, but asked defendant Kissinger to place his handcuffs above a brace plaintiff was wearing on his left wrist. Plaintiff alleges that as soon as he put his hand through the tray slot, defendant Kissinger grabbed his wrist and began bending it and putting pressure directly on his injury. When plaintiff pulled his arm back into the cell, defendant Kissinger said he was going to write him up. Defendant Kissinger then called an extraction team to plaintiff's cell, claiming that plaintiff had assaulted him. (Compl. 5-6.)
When the extraction team arrived, plaintiff presented defendant Peery with an inmate appeal. Defendant Peery refused to take it and yelled "Put your arms through the tray slot." Plaintiff asked defendant Peery to place his handcuffs above his wrist brace. Although defendant Peery placed the cuffs above his brace, he pulled on the cuffs as hard as he could, bending and twisting plaintiff's wrist and applying pressure to his injury. According to plaintiff, defendants Kissinger, Baker, Qualls, and Money stood by as the incident occurred and took no action. (Compl. at 6-7.)
As defendants Peery and Qualls escorted plaintiff out of the unit for an interview regarding his alleged assault on defendant Kissinger, plaintiff told them that he had back problems. Plaintiff also told them that defendant Kissinger was a Ku Klux Klansman. In response, defendants Qualls and Peery jerked plaintiff's arms up and caused plaintiff to suffer immediate back spasms. (Compl. at 7.)
Once plaintiff arrived at the program office he was placed in a cage. He stopped defendant Ingwerson and told her that he knew that she was aware of the numerous complaints against defendant Kissinger. As she was responding to him, defendant Money told plaintiff to leave his lieutenant alone and defendant Peery uttered racist comments. (Compl. at 7-8.)
Defendant Garrison was the medical technical assistant on duty that day. Defendant Garrison ignored plaintiff's repeated requests for pain and blood pressure medication. Defendant Garrison also refused to let plaintiff see a doctor and would not come near the cage to observe and make a notation of the indentation on plaintiff's wrist. The only notation that defendant Garrison made in the medical report was that plaintiff had difficulty standing in the cage. (Compl. at 8-9.)
Plaintiff was subsequently placed in administrative segregation. Defendant Kissinger came to his cell and took out his handcuffs stating "Hey Davis, remember these," and began to laugh. Plaintiff filed an inmate appeal complaining about defendant Kissinger's conduct and asking that prison officials to keep Kissinger away from him. Plaintiff also asked defendant Peery to recuse himself from responding to the appeal because he had a similar complaint against him, but defendant Peery refused. (Compl. at 9.)
Plaintiff wrote a letter to defendant Runnels about these various incidents, but defendant Runnels responded that he did not believe there was any racism at High Desert State Prison. Plaintiff also wrote defendant Runnels asking him to remove defendant Peery from hearing his appeal, but defendant Runnels did not respond. (Compl. at 9.)
On August 23, 2001, plaintiff saw Dr. Sandham and told him that he had a long history of back problems and that he had re-injured his left wrist. Dr. Sandham examined plaintiff and provided him with pain medication to treat his wrist and back pain. Plaintiff told him that the medication did not help, but Dr. Sandham still ordered the medication for him. (Compl. at 10-11.)
On November 20, 2001, plaintiff appeared for his rules violation hearing. Plaintiff alleges that the investigative employee report was incomplete and that defendant Norlin, the senior hearing officer, told him that if he pled guilty he would reduce the violation down to an administrative rules violation and plaintiff would most likely be released to the general population. According to plaintiff, when he refused to plead guilty defendant Norlin denied plaintiff's requests for witnesses and a new investigative employee and found plaintiff guilty of the lesser included offense. (Compl. at 10-12.)
On November 30, 2001, plaintiff was released from administrative segregation and submitted a medical request to see a doctor. On December 27, 2001, he saw Dr. Rohlfing who diagnosed him as suffering from a left wrist sprain and lower-back aggravation and referred him for casting of his left wrist and physical therapy for his wrist and back. (Compl. at 13.)
Plaintiff has raised the following eleven claims for relief in his complaint: Claim One: Defendant Kissinger engaged in racial intimidation that led to a group appeal against him on August 21, 2001, after he deliberately provoked black inmates by (1) searching their cells while they were on lockdown status, just days after a previous search, (2) using racial slurs, and (3) routinely withholding food or spitting in inmates' food before delivering it; defendant Kissinger used excessive force on August 23, 2001, when he pulled plaintiff's arm through the food tray slot in the cell door while handcuffing him and deliberately put pressure on plaintiff's injured wrist, in violation of plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights; Claim Two: Excessive force was used by defendants Baker, Peery, Qualls, and Money during a cell extraction on August 23, 2001, after defendant Kissinger falsely claimed that plaintiff had assaulted him, in violation of plaintiff's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights;
Claim Three: Defendants Ingwerson, Money, and Peery failed to properly supervise their subordinates during the cell extraction on August 23, 2001, in violation of plaintiff's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights;
Claim Four: After plaintiff was removed from his cell on August 23, 2001, he was placed in a holding cage where defendants Garrison (a Medical Technical Assistant), Money, and Ingwerson denied plaintiff his medications for pain and high blood pressure, and defendant Garrison refused to examine plaintiff or allow plaintiff to see a doctor, in deliberate indifference to plaintiff's serious medical needs and in violation of plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights;
Claim Five: At a disciplinary hearing conducted by defendant Norlin, the defendant denied plaintiff all requested witnesses and found plaintiff guilty of a lesser included offense, in violation of plaintiff's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights;
Claim Six: Defendant Runnels instituted policies and practices that condoned misconduct and constitutional violations by subordinates, in violation of plaintiff's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights;
Claim Seven: Defendants Kissinger, Peery, and Qualls deprived plaintiff of equal protection of the laws and violated federal criminal laws when they subjected plaintiff to racially-motivated excessive force;
Claims Eight through Eleven: Defendants Kissinger, Peery, Runnels, and Norlin violated plaintiff's rights under the California Constitution, state regulations, and state statutes. (Compl. at 14-32.)
On January 18, 2006, the court ordered the United States Marshal to serve plaintiff's complaint on defendants Baker, Ingwerson, Garrison, Money, Norlin, Peery, Qualls, and Runnels. On April 28, 2006, defendants moved to dismiss the entire action or, in the alternative, selected claims pursuant to non-enumerated Rule 12(b) and to dismiss other selected claims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
On July 13, 2006, the undersigned issued findings and recommendations, recommending that defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to non-enumerated Rule 12(b) be granted as to plaintiff's fifth, sixth, tenth, and eleventh claims; that plaintiff's fifth and eleventh claims against defendant Norlin and plaintiff's sixth and tenth claims against defendant Runnels be dismissed without prejudice due to plaintiff's failure to exhaust administrative remedies on those claims before bringing this action; and that defendants Kissinger, Baker, Peery, Qualls, Money, Ingwerson, and Garrison be directed to file an answer to plaintiff's complaint. On March 13, 2007, the assigned district judge adopted the findings and recommendations in full. On the same day, defendants Kissinger, Baker, Peery, Qualls, Money, Ingwerson, and Garrison filed an answer, and on March 22, 2007, the undersigned issued a discovery order. On June 2, 2008, plaintiff filed the instant motion for partial summary judgment, arguing that he is entitled to relief on his excessive force and state law claims.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARDS UNDER RULE 56
Summary judgment is appropriate when it is demonstrated that there exists "no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).
Under summary judgment practice, the moving party always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any," which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). "[W]here the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue, a summary judgment motion may properly be made in reliance solely on the 'pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file.'" Id. Indeed, summary judgment should be entered, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. See id. at 322. "[A] complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Id. In such a circumstance, summary judgment should be granted, "so long as whatever is before the district court demonstrates that the standard for entry of summary judgment, as set forth in Rule 56(c), is satisfied." Id. at 323.
If the moving party meets its initial responsibility, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue as to any material fact actually does exist. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). In attempting to establish the existence of this factual dispute, the opposing party may not rely upon the allegations or denials of its pleadings but is required to tender evidence of specific facts in the form of affidavits, and/or admissible discovery material, in support of its contention that the dispute exists. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586 n.11. The opposing party must demonstrate that the fact in contention is material, i.e., a fact that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pacific Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987), and that the dispute is genuine, i.e., the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party, see Wool v. Tandem Computers, Inc., 818 F.2d 1433, 1436 (9th Cir. 1987).
In the endeavor to establish the existence of a factual dispute, the opposing party need not establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor. It is sufficient that "the claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial." T.W. Elec. Serv., 809 F.2d at 631. Thus, the "purpose of summary judgment is to 'pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial.'" Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e) advisory committee's note on 1963 amendments).
In resolving the summary judgment motion, the court examines the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The evidence of the opposing party is to be believed. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. All reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the facts placed before the court must be drawn in favor of the opposing party. See Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. Nevertheless, inferences are not drawn out of the air, and it is the opposing party's obligation to produce a factual predicate from which the inference may be drawn. See Richards v. Nielsen Freight Lines, 602 F. Supp. 1224, 1244-45 (E.D. Cal. 1985), aff'd, 810 F.2d 898, 902 (9th Cir. 1987). Finally, to demonstrate a genuine issue, the opposing party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts . . . . Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (citation omitted).
OTHER APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS
I. Civil Rights Act Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides as follows: Every person who, under color of [state law] . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution . . . shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.
42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute requires that there be an actual connection or link between the actions of the defendants and the deprivation alleged to have been suffered by plaintiff. See Monell v. Department of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976). "A person 'subjects' another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of § 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made." Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978).
Moreover, supervisory personnel are generally not liable under § 1983 for the actions of their employees under a theory of respondeat superior and, therefore, when a named defendant holds a supervisorial position, the causal link between him and the claimed constitutional violation must be specifically alleged. See Fayle v. Stapley, 607 F.2d 858, 862 (9th Cir. 1979); Mosher v. Saalfeld, 589 F.2d 438, 441 (9th Cir. 1978). Vague and conclusory allegations concerning the involvement of official personnel in civil rights violations are not sufficient. See Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).
II. Eighth Amendment and Excessive Force
The Eighth Amendment prohibits the infliction of "cruel and unusual punishments." U.S. Const. amend. VIII. It is well established that the "unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain" constitutes cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the United States Constitution. Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986). See also Ingraham v. Wright, 430 U.S. 651, 670 (1977); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105-06 (1976). Neither accident nor negligence constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, as "[i]t is obduracy and wantonness, not inadvertence or error in good faith, that characterize the conduct prohibited by the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause." Whitley, 475 U.S. at 319.
What is needed to show unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain "varies according to the nature of the alleged constitutional violation." Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 5 (1992) (citing Whitley, 475 U.S. at 320). The plaintiff must show that objectively he suffered a sufficiently serious deprivation and that subjectively each defendant had a culpable state of mind in allowing or causing the plaintiff's deprivation to occur. Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298-99 (1991).
"The objective component of an Eighth Amendment claim is . . . contextual and responsive to 'contemporary standards of decency.'" Hudson, 503 U.S. at 8 (quoting Estelle, 429 U.S. at 103). The objective prong of the test requires the court to consider whether the alleged wrongdoing was harmful enough to establish a constitutional violation. Hudson, 503 U.S. at 8; Wilson, 501 U.S. at 298. In the context of an excessive use of force claim, however, the objective prong does not require a prisoner to show a "significant injury" in order to establish that he suffered a sufficiently serious constitutional deprivation. Hudson, 503 U.S. at 9-10.
The subjective prong of the two-part test is also contextual. Wilson, 501 U.S. at 299. A prison official acts with the requisite "culpable mind" with respect to an excessive use of force claim if he acts maliciously and sadistically for the purpose of causing harm. Whitley, 475 U.S. at 320-21. "[W]henever prison officials stand accused of using excessive physical force in violation of the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause, the core judicial inquiry is that set out in Whitley, i.e., whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm." Hudson, 503 U.S. at 6-7.
III. Civil Rights Claim Under State Law
Plaintiff has alleged that the defendants violated his civil rights protected under two separate statutory provisions of California law. He has now moved for summary judgment in his favor on both of those claims. Below, the court will address them in turn.
Under California law, the Bane Civil Rights Act provides:
(a) If a person or persons, whether or not acting under color of law, interferes by threat, intimidation, or coercion, or attempts to interfere by threats, intimidation, or coercion, with the exercise or enjoyment by any individual or individuals of rights secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or of the rights secured by the Constitution or laws of this state, the Attorney General, or any district attorney or city attorney may bring a civil action for injunctive and other appropriate equitable relief in the name of the people of the State of California, in order to protect the peaceable exercise or enjoyment of the right or rights secured. . . .
(b) Any individual whose exercise or enjoyment of rights secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or of rights secured by the Constitution or laws of this state, has been interfered with, or attempted to be interfered with, as described in subdivision (a), may institute and prosecute in his or her own name and on his or her own behalf a civil action for damages, including, but not limited to, damages under Section 52, injunctive relief, and other appropriate equitable relief to protect the peaceable exercise or enjoyment of the right or rights secured.
Cal. Civ. Code § 52.1(a) & (b).
There are four elements to a claim brought pursuant to the Bane Act: (1) the defendant interfered with or attempted to interfere with plaintiff's constitutional or statutory right; (2) the plaintiff reasonably believed that if he exercised his constitutional right the defendant would commit violence against him, or the defendant injured plaintiff to prevent him from exercising his constitutional right; (3) the plaintiff was harmed; and (4) the defendant's conduct was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff's harm. See Austin B. v. Escondido Union Sch. Dist., 149 Cal. App. 4th 860, 883 (2007) ("The word 'interferes' as used in the Bane Act means 'violates.'"); Stamps v. Superior Court, 136 Cal. App. 4th 1441, 1448 (2006) (Bane Civil Rights Act is intended to supplement Ralph Civil Rights Act and to allow an individual to seek relief to prevent violence before it occurs).
Under the Bane Civil Right Act, the plaintiff need not show that the defendant acted with discriminatory intent. It is enough that the defendant interfered with plaintiff's constitutional rights with threats, intimidation, or coercion. See Venegas v. County of Los Angeles, 32 Cal. 4th 820, 841 (2004). See also Jones v. Kmart Corp., 17 Cal. 4th 329, 334 (1998) ("The Legislature enacted section 52.1 to stem a tide of hate crimes").
Under California law, the Ralph Civil Rights Act of 1976 provides: All persons within the jurisdiction of this state have the right to be free from any violence, or intimidation by threat of violence, committed against their persons or property because of political affiliation, or on account of [sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation], or position in a labor dispute, or because another person perceives them to have one or more of those characteristics. The identification in this subdivision of particular bases of discrimination is illustrative rather than restrictive.
Cal. Civ. Code § 51.7(a).
There are four elements to a claim brought pursuant to the Ralph Civil Rights Act:
(1) the defendant threatened or committed violent acts against the plaintiff; (2) the defendant was motivated by his perception of plaintiff's sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation; (3) the plaintiff was harmed; and (4) the defendant's conduct was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff's harm. See Austin B., 149 Cal. App. 4th at 880-81; Stamps, 39 Cal. App. 4th at 1446 (Ralph Civil Rights Act was intended to provide all persons with the right to be free from violence or threat of violence because of race, color religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation, or position in a labor dispute).
IV. California Tort Law
Plaintiff has also alleged a cause of action under California Civil Code § 43 and now moves for summary judgment in his favor on that claim.
California Civil Code § 43 provides:
Besides the personal rights mentioned or recognized in the Government Code, every person has, subject to the qualifications and restrictions provided by law, the right of protection from bodily restraint or harm, from personal insult, from defamation, and from injury to his personal relations.
This provision codifies causes of action for assault, battery, and invasion of privacy. See Marsh v. San Diego County, 432 F. Supp. 2d 1035, 1057-58 (S.D. Cal. 2006). Thus, under California Civil Code § 43, an individual has a "right to be free from physical attack or the threat thereof." People v. Lashley, 1 Cal. App. 4th 938, 951 (1991). See also Edson v. City of Anaheim, 63 Cal. App. 4th 1269, 1272-73 (1998) (plaintiff must prove unreasonable force in a battery action against a police officer).
V. Qualified Immunity
As will be addressed in more detail below, defendants argue, in part, that plaintiff's motion for summary judgment should be denied because they are entitled to qualified immunity in this case.
"Government officials enjoy qualified immunity from civil damages unless their conduct violates 'clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.'" Jeffers v. Gomez, 267 F.3d 895, 910 (9th Cir. 2001) (quoting Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982)). When a court is presented with a qualified immunity defense, the central questions for the court are (1) whether the facts alleged, taken in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, demonstrate that the defendants' conduct violated a statutory or constitutional right and (2) whether the right at issue was "clearly established." Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001). Although the court was previously required to answer these questions in order, the U.S. Supreme Court has very recently held that "while the sequence set forth there is often appropriate, it should no longer be regarded as mandatory." Pearson v. Callahan, __ U.S. __, __ S.Ct. __, 2009 WL 128768 at *9 (Jan. 21, 2009). In this regard, if a court decides that plaintiff's allegations do not make out a statutory or constitutional violation, "there is no necessity for further inquiries concerning qualified immunity." Saucier, 533 U.S. at 201. Likewise, if a court determines that the right at issue was not clearly established at the time of the defendant's alleged misconduct, the court may end further inquiries concerning qualified immunity at that point without determining whether the allegations in fact make out a statutory or constitutional violation. Pearson v. Callahan, __ U.S. __, __ S.Ct. __, 2009 WL 128768 at * 9 (Jan. 21, 2009).
In deciding whether the plaintiff's rights were clearly established,"[t]he proper inquiry focuses on whether 'it would be clear to a reasonable officer that his conduct was unlawful in the situation he confronted' . . . or whether the state of the law in [at the relevant time] gave 'fair warning' to the officials that their conduct was unconstitutional." Clement v. Gomez, 298 F.3d 898, 906 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Saucier, 533 U.S. at 202). The inquiry must be undertaken in light of the specific context of the case. Saucier, 533 U.S. at 201. Because qualified immunity is an affirmative defense, the burden of proof initially lies with the official asserting the defense. Harlow, 457 U.S. at 812; Houghton v. South, 965 F.2d 1532, 1536 (9th Cir. 1992); Benigni v. City of Hemet, 879 F.2d 473, 479 (9th Cir. 1989).
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT
I. Plaintiff's Arguments
Plaintiff argues that he is entitled to summary judgment on his excessive force claims against defendants Kissinger, Baker, Qualls, Money, and Peery because, he asserts, the evidence in the case establishes that there was no need for the use of force here. Plaintiff argues that the facts in the instant case satisfies both the objective and subjective prongs of an Eighth Amendment claim. Plaintiff first argues that he satisfies the objective prong of the standard because he suffered a serious injury to his wrist and back as a result of defendants' alleged conduct, causing him to suffer substantial pain for an extended period of time.*fn1 Second, plaintiff argues that he satisfies the subjective prong of the requirements for an Eighth Amendment claim because defendants acted with a wanton state of mind. For example, plaintiff argues that he asked defendant Kissinger to accommodate his wrist injury when he handcuffed him, but defendant Kissinger refused to do so and went out of his way to grab plaintiff's wrist while defendant Baker stood by and allowed Kissinger to do so. Similarly, plaintiff explains that he asked defendant Peery to provide the same accommodation for his wrist, but defendant Peery twisted and bent plaintiff's wrist as defendants Kissinger, Baker, Qualls and Money stood by and watched. (Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. at 4-20.)
Plaintiff also argues that he is entitled to summary judgment on his state law claims. Specifically, plaintiff argues that California Civil Code § 43 and Article I, § 17 of the California Constitution prohibited the excessive use of force by defendants Kissinger, Peery, and Qualls and barred defendants Baker, Money and Qualls from standing by and failing to stop the other defendants from breaking his wrist. In addition, plaintiff argues that under California Civil Code § 52.1, he only needs to show that defendants intimidated him, and under California Civil Code § 57.1, he only needs to show that defendants intimidated him based on a disability in order to establish liability. Finally, plaintiff appears to argue that the defendants' conduct violated California Government Code § 815.6 and a number of other cited state regulations, including California Code of Regulations Title 15, §§ 3268(a)(2) & (3), 3268.1(a)(1), and 3268.2(b)(3). (Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. at 4, 20-27.)
II. Defendants' Arguments
In opposition to plaintiff's motion for summary judgment defendants have submitted a separate statement of disputed material facts supported by their own declarations, declarations from other correctional officers who witnessed the events in question, excerpts from plaintiff's deposition, prison incident reports and rules violation reports that were issued in connection with this incident involving plaintiff. (See Doc. No. 140.) Based upon this evidence, defense counsel argues that genuine issues of material fact exist as to plaintiff's Eighth Amendment excessive force claims. Specifically, in his declaration defendant Kissinger denies that he bent plaintiff's wrist "extremely hard" or that he "placed extreme pressure on a tendon in Plaintiff's left wrist." (Defs.' Separate Statement of Disputed Material Facts (DSSDMF) filed Oct. 9, 2008, Ex. A at 2.). Defendant Kissinger also declares that in applying the restraints on plaintiff, he placed the handcuffs below an "ACE" type bandage on plaintiff's wrist and did not place the handcuffs above the bandage as plaintiff requested because he could not properly secure the handcuffs in that fashion. (Id.) According to defendant Kissinger, as he attempted to place handcuffs on plaintiff's left wrist, he held plaintiff's wrist with his right hand and plaintiff lunged forward, pulling defendant Kissinger's right hand and wrist through the food port, injuring defendant Kissinger himself. (Id.; see also DSSDMF, Ex. B; Defs.' Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. at 8-9.)
Similarly, defendant Peery has submitted a declaration denying that he bent or twisted plaintiff's arm, placed pressure with his thumbs on a tendon in plaintiff's left arm or used "the cuffs like a weapon" against plaintiff. (DSSDMF, Ex. B at 2.) In responding to defendant Kissinger's call reporting that plaintiff had assaulted him, defendant Peery states that he requested plaintiff to place his hands through the food port and that plaintiff eventually complied. (Id.) Counsel on behalf of defendant Peery argues that under these facts, any force Peery used was necessary to secure plaintiff so that he could be escorted to the program office for an interview concerning his assault on defendant Kissinger. (Defs.' Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. at 9; DSSDMF, Exs. A-E.)
Defendants Peery and Qualls also deny that they raised plaintiff's hands up from behind to cause him to stumble forward or that they applied unnecessary force as they escorted plaintiff from his cell to the program office. (DSSDMF, Exs. C & E.) Rather, according to defendant Peery, during the escort plaintiff was walking in an uncooperative manner, alternating big steps, little steps, and side steps. (Id., Ex. C at 2.) Defendant Peery believed that plaintiff walked in this manner to gain the attention of other inmates. (Id.)
Finally, defendants Baker, Qualls, and Money deny that they witnessed defendants Kissinger or Peery apply wanton or unnecessary force in restraining plaintiff. (DSSDMF, Exs. B, D & E.) In addition, defendants Kissinger, Baker, Qualls, and Money deny witnessing defendant Peery apply unnecessary force in restraining plaintiff. (Id., Exs. A, B, D & E.) Finally, defendants Baker and Money deny using any force themselves during the incident involving plaintiff. (Id., Exs. B & D.)
Counsel on behalf of the defendants also argues that genuine issues of material fact exist as to plaintiff's state law claims precluding the granting of summary judgment in plaintiff's favor as to those claims. Specifically, each of the defendants have submitted declarations denying that they committed acts of violence or intimidation against plaintiff. (DSSDMF, Exs. A, B, C, D & E.) Defendants Kissinger, Qualls, and Peery maintain that they did not handcuff plaintiff because he is an African American or because he was wearing an ACE bandage. (Id., Exs. A, C & E.) The defendants also deny themselves making or witnessing any other correctional officer make any racial or discriminatory remarks directed at plaintiff. (Id., Exs. A-E.)
Similarly, all of the defendants deny committing or witnessing any acts of violence or intimidation against plaintiff that could constitute violations of the Ralph Act or California Civil Code § 43. (Id., Exs. A-E.) They also each deny harming plaintiff when they handcuffed and escorted him to the program office. (Id.)
Finally, counsel briefly argues that defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. In this regard, counsel contends that even if the defendants were found to have used excessive force in handcuffing and escorting plaintiff to the program office or to have violated plaintiff's rights under state law, plaintiff has failed to present any evidence that there was at the time any law clearly establishing that inmates must be handcuffed above an ACE bandage as he requested. In absence of such evidence, defense counsel argues, plaintiff cannot defeat defendants' claim of entitlement to qualified immunity. (Defs.' Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. at 12.)*fn2
III. Plaintiff's Reply
In reply, plaintiff argues that the defendants have attempted to categorize his serious injury as de minimis to negate his Eighth Amendment claim. However, he contends that the defendants have not submitted any expert testimony in support of their position and have failed to controvert the undisputed facts that plaintiff sought and received treatment for the injury defendants caused him. Plaintiff argues that the declarations submitted by defendants, which he characterizes as boilerplate, are insufficient to defeat his motion for summary judgment on his Eighth Amendment claim. In plaintiff's opinion, the fact that it took five officers to escort him to the shower demonstrates that the force used was not necessary. (Pl.'s Reply at 3-14.)
In addition, plaintiff argues that under the Bane Civil Rights Act, the Ralph Civil Rights Act, and California Civil Code § 43, he need only show that defendants intimidated him. According to plaintiff, his own perception of what constitutes intimidating conduct is the proper legal standard to be applied. Plaintiff also argues that in order to demonstrate discriminatory intent he need only show that defendants perceived he had a disability and targeted him as a result thereof. He claims that he has done so. Plaintiff also argues that because the defendants cannot defeat his excessive force claim under the Eighth Amendment, they cannot defeat his state law claims of assault and unnecessary force. According to plaintiff where, as here, there was no need for force any use of force is objectively unreasonable. (Pl.'s Reply at 14-16.)
Finally, plaintiff argues that qualified immunity protects officers except when they are plainly incompetent or when they knowingly violate the law. Here, plaintiff argues, it is well established that handcuffing a prisoner too tight constitutes excessive and unreasonable force and that defendants are therefore not entitled to qualified immunity. (Pl.'s Reply at 21.)
I. Plaintiff's Excessive Force Claims
Based upon the evidence and arguments presented to the court in connection with the pending motion it is clear that the parties in this case agree on very little. In considering plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, the court is required to believe defendants' evidence and draw all reasonable inferences from the facts before the court in defendants' favor. Here, the court finds that the evidence presented by defendants in opposition to plaintiff's motion for summary judgment establishes that triable issues of material fact exist. Based upon that evidence a reasonable jury could conclude that defendants' actions did not violate the Eighth Amendment. In this regard, defendants Kissinger, Peery, Baker, Money and Qualls have submitted detailed declarations, signed under penalty of perjury, disputing nearly every aspect of plaintiff's version of events. See DSSDMF, Exs. A, B, C, D & E. Defendants' sworn statements regarding the events that took place on August 23, 2001, if believed, are sufficient to defeat plaintiff's claim that excessive force was used against him. See Hudson, 503 U.S. at 9 (not every malevolent touch by a prison guard gives rise to a federal cause of action). Accordingly, plaintiff is not entitled to summary judgment in his favor on his excessive use of force claims.*fn3
II. Plaintiff's State Law Claims
Plaintiff's state law claims are premised on the same fact allegations as his excessive use of force claims. Again, the court finds that the evidence presented by defendants in opposition to plaintiff's motion for summary judgment establishes that triable issues of material fact exist as to plaintiff's claims under state law. Based upon that evidence, a reasonable jury could conclude that defendants' actions did not violate any of the state law provisions cited by plaintiff. All of the defendants have declared that they have never intimidated, used or threatened the use of violence, or made any discriminatory remarks against plaintiff. See DSSDMF, Exs. A, B, C, D & E. In addition, the defendants have all declared that they have never witnessed other correctional staff intimidate, use or threaten the use of violence, or make any discriminatory remarks against plaintiff. (Id.) Again, defendants' sworn statements regarding the events that took place on August 23, 2001, if believed, are sufficient to defeat plaintiff's state law claims. See, e.g., Kincaid v. City of Fresno, No. CIV F-06-1445, 2008 WL 2038390 at *15-16 (E.D. Cal. May 12, 2008) (denying plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on a Bane Civil Rights Act claim because defendants "raised substantial disputed issues of material fact" regarding their alleged interference with plaintiff's right to possess property). Cf. Cole v. Doe 1 Thru Doe 2 Officers, 387 F. Supp. 2d 1084, 1103 (N.D. Cal. 2005) (denying defendants' motion for summary judgment on Bane Act claims because "[u]se of law enforcement authority to effectuate a stop, detention (including use of handcuffs), and search can constitute interference by 'threat, intimidation, or coercion' if the officer lacks probable cause to initiate the stop, maintain the detention, and continue a search."); Spears v. City & County of San Francisco, No. C 06-4968 VRW, 2008 WL 2812022 at *13-14 (N.D. Cal. July 21, 2008) (denying Sheriff Deputy's motion for summary judgment on former female inmate's Bane Civil Rights Act claim because the plaintiff offered ample evidence that the deputy interfered with her right to be free from sexual assault); Bates v. Arata, No. C 05-3383 SI, 2008 WL 820578 at *26-27 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 26, 2008) ("The only Bane Act claims that survive summary judgment are the excessive force claims. . . ."). Accordingly, plaintiff is not entitled to summary judgment in his favor on his state law claims.*fn4
III. Qualified Immunity
As noted above, the parties in this case agree on very little. In asserting that they are entitled to qualified immunity with respect to plaintiff's claims, defendants bear the burden of proof on the issue and must produce sufficient evidence to require the plaintiff to go beyond his pleadings and, in the summary judgment context, must demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Moreno v. Baca, 431 F.3d 633, 638 (9th Cir. 2005). Viewing plaintiff's allegations and evidence in the light most favorable to him as is required, plaintiff's version of the events would demonstrate that defendants violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment. Moreover, the state of the law at the time of the alleged incident clearly would have given defendants fair warning that their alleged use of excessive force on plaintiff was unconstitutional. As the United States Supreme Court has recognized:
[G]eneral statements of the law are not inherently incapable of giving fair and clear warning, and in other instances a general constitutional rule already identified in the decisional law may apply with obvious clarity to the specific conduct in question, even though "the very action in question has [not] previously been held unlawful."
United States v. Lanier, 520 U.S. 259, 271 (1997) (quoting Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 640 (1987)). In this regard, it was well established by 2001 that "whenever prison officials stand accused of using excessive physical force in violation of the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause, the core judicial inquiry is that set out in Whitley, i.e., whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm." Hudson, 503 U.S. at 6-7. Here, defendants were on notice that they could not intentionally use their handcuffs to re-injure plaintiff's left wrist or jerk plaintiff's arms up while handcuffed to aggravate his back problems. Accordingly, defendants are not entitled to relief with respect to their affirmative defense of qualified immunity.*fn5
For the reasons discussed above, IT IS HEREBY RECOMMENDED that:
1. Plaintiff's June 2, 2008 motion for summary judgment (Doc. No 118) be denied; and
2. Plaintiff's state law claims under the California Constitution Article I, Section 17, California Government Code § 815.6, and California Code of Regulations Title 15, §§ 3268(a)(2) & (3), 3268.1(a)(1), and 3268.2(b)(3) be dismissed with prejudice.
These findings and recommendations are submitted to the United States District Judge assigned to the case, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(l). Within fifteen days after being served with these findings and recommendations, any party may file written objections with the court and serve a copy on all parties. Such a document should be captioned "Objections to Magistrate Judge's Findings and Recommendations." Any reply to the objections shall be served and filed within ten days after service of the objections. The parties are advised that failure to file objections within the specified time may waive the right to appeal the District Court's order. Martinez v. Ylst, 951 F.2d 1153 (9th Cir. 1991).