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Atterbury v. Vandiver

March 31, 2009

DANNY ATTERBURY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LAURIE VANDIVER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



ORDER

Plaintiff, a civil detainee currently confined at Napa State Hospital, is proceeding pro se with a civil rights action seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The matter is before the court on defendant Vandiver's motion for summary judgment brought pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff has filed an opposition to the motion. Defendant has filed a reply. The parties have previously consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction for all purposes. See 28 U.S.C. § 636 (c).

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff commenced this action on July 7, 2005, by filing a civil rights complaint in which he alleges that he has been confined to Napa State Hospital for sixteen years pursuant to his entry of plea before the El Dorado County Superior Court of not guilty by reason of insanity to two counts of attempted murder.*fn1 (Compl. at 4.) Plaintiff further alleges that his maximum commitment date was July 18, 2005. (Id.) Plaintiff notes that he was scheduled to attend a "Readiness and Settlement Conference" on August 15, 2005, and undergo a jury trial on August 23, 2005, because Napa State Hospital petitioned the El Dorado County District Attorney to ask the El Dorado County Superior Court to extend his commitment for two years. (Id.) Plaintiff contends that every time he attends any type of hearing, defendant Vandiver recommends that he be housed in the El Dorado County Jail. (Id.) Plaintiff further contends that Vandiver recommends housing patients in the county jail because it unnerves them and prevents them from effectively defending themselves at their hearings and jury trials. (Id.) Plaintiff recalls that, "a couple of years ago" when he was scheduled to attend a hearing in the El Dorado County Superior Court, defendant Vandiver recommended that he be housed in the psychiatric/medical section of the county jail. (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff alleges that he became sick at the jail and ultimately abandoned his hearing. (Id.) Plaintiff contends that mental hospitals profit from patients waiving their hearings and trials because they receive annual funding per patient. (Id. at 7-8.) Plaintiff summarily argues that temporarily housing him in the county jail pending his court hearings violates the First, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments as well as state law. (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff requests injunctive and monetary relief.*fn2 (Id. at 11.)

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).

On July 29, 2005, the court advised plaintiff of the requirements for opposing a motion pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc); Klingele v. Eikenberry, 849 F.2d 409 (9th Cir. 1988).

OTHER APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS

I. Civil Rights Act Pursuant to 28 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. Relevant Sections of the California Penal Code

Plaintiff has been civilly committed pursuant to California Penal Code § 1026 et seq., for approximately eighteen years. Defendant Vandiver has been plaintiff's "community program director" for more than a decade. Where, as here, a civilly committed individual must attend a court hearing outside of the geographical area of his state hospital, California Penal Code §§ 1026.2 and 1026.5 authorize a community program director to designate an alternative placement facility at which the individual will be housed pending his hearing. Sections 1026.2 and 1026.5 also prescribe what types of facilities may be designated as alternative placement facilities. The relevant provisions state:

Pending the hearing, the medical director or person in charge of the facility in which the person is confined shall prepare a summary of the person's programs of treatment and shall forward the summary to the community program director or a designee and to the court. The community program director or a designee shall review the summary and shall designate a facility within a reasonable distance from the court in which the person may be detained pending the hearing on the application for release. The facility so designated shall continue the program of treatment, shall provide adequate security, and shall, to the greatest extent possible minimize interference with the person's program of treatment.

A designated facility need not be approved for 72-hour treatment and evaluation pursuant to the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act. . . . However, a county jail may not be designated unless the services specified in subdivision (b) are provided and accommodations are provided which ensure both the safety of the person and the safety of the general population of the jail. If there is evidence that the treatment program is not being complied with or accommodations have not been provided which ensure both the safety of the committed person and the safety of the general population of the jail, the court shall order the person transferred to an appropriate facility or make any other appropriate order, including continuance of the proceedings.

Cal. Penal Code §§1026.2(b)-(c) & 1026.5(b)(5)-(6) (emphasis added).

DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

I. Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Facts and Evidence

Defendant's statement of undisputed facts is supported by a declaration by defendant Vandiver; a declaration by Jeanette Lovejoy, who is a Senior Legal Secretary employed by the Office of the Placer County Counsel; and citations to plaintiff's complaint and other filings in this action.

Defendant's evidence establishes the following facts: The Conditional Release Program" ("CONREP") is a state-funded and county-administered program. The Placer County Regional CONREP was paid for by the state in a lump sum contractual amount that was determined based on the outpatient census for the area served. Defendant Vandiver is a Placer County employee who became the community program director for the Placer County Regional CONREP in 1996.

Prior to July 2007, the Placer County Regional CONREP had two primary functions. First, it provided placement and treatment recommendations to individuals found mentally incompetent to stand trial and commuted under Penal Code § 1370. Second, it supervised an outpatient program for individuals found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed under Penal Code § 1026. In addition, CONREP's also made alternative placement facility recommendations for those found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to a state hospital under Penal Code § 1026.5. Alternative placement recommendations, however, were a very small portion of the CONREP work, amounting to an average of only one or two recommendations per year.

When defendant Vandiver made an alternative placement facility recommendation for an individual who had a legal proceeding in another county, the county where the legal proceeding took place paid for any costs associated with the alternative placement. The Placer County Regional CONREP did not obtain a benefit or suffer a detriment and CONREP was not affected one way or another when a committed individual had a proceeding that he attended outside of the county. Whether or not an individual ...


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