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Hackworth v. German

April 22, 2009

ROBERT HACKWORTH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
H. GERMAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER STRIKING PLAINTIFF'S SURREPLY (Doc. 63) FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING THAT DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT BE GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART (Doc. 47) OBJECTIONS DUE WITHIN THIRTY DAYS

I. Findings

A. Procedural History

Robert Hackworth ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action is proceeding on Plaintiff's complaint, filed June 19, 2006, against defendants German and Weiglein for excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment and against defendants Martinez and Vella for violation of due process. On September 5, 2008, defendants German, Weiglein, Martinez, and Vella ("Defendants") filed a motion for summary judgment, after receiving an extension of time. (Doc. 47.) On October 24, 2008, Plaintiff filed an opposition to Defendants' motion, after obtaining an extension of time. (Doc. 58.)*fn1 On November 17, 2008, Defendants filed their reply to Plaintiff's opposition after receiving an extension of time. (Doc. 61.)

On December 1, 2008, Plaintiff filed a "Plaintiff Opposition to Defendants Reply to Plaintiff Opposition Motion to Defendants Summary Judgment Motion." (Doc. 63.) The Court treats this filing as a sur-reply. Sur-replies are not generally allowed under the Local Rules of this Court. See Local Rule 78-230(m). The Court neither requested nor granted permission for Plaintiff to file a sur-reply. Plaintiff's sur-reply is HEREBY ORDERED stricken.*fn2

B. Summary Judgment Standard

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 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). "[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. 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. 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 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. Rule 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, 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, 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 Motion for Summary Judgment, 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, Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, and all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the facts placed before the court must be drawn in favor of the opposing party, Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (citing United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962)(per curiam). 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. 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).

C. Undisputed Facts*fn3

1. Plaintiff is a prisoner of the State of California.

2. During March 2004, Plaintiff was housed in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Corcoran State Prison (CSP-Cor).

3. The SHU is a more restrictive area of the prison, where inmates are typically housed once they are found guilty of violating a serious prison rule.

4. Inmates in the CSP-Cor SHU are served their meals in their cells.

5. Two officers delivered breakfast trays and sack lunches to the SHU inmates from a meal cart each day.

6. The officers would deliver a breakfast tray and sack lunch to each inmate through a slot in the cell door ...


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