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Rotroff v. Robinson

June 3, 2009

DENIS K. ROTROFF, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JIM ROBINSON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY ADJUDICATION BE GRANTED IN PART AND DISREGARDED IN PART (Doc. 35) OBJECTIONS, IF ANY, DUE IN THIRTY (30) DAYS

Findings and Recommendations on Motion for Summary Judgment

I. Procedural History

Plaintiff Denis K. Rotroff ("Plaintiff") is a civil detainee 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 First Amended Complaint ("FAC") filed July 30, 2007, against defendants Ben McClain, Jim Robinson, G. Dieke, Charles "Chuck" Rabaut, Sharon Rogers and Sgt. Mendoza ("Defendants") for violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. On September 15, 2008 Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 35.) On February 19, 2009, this Court issued an order requiring Plaintiff to file a statement of opposition or non-opposition to the motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 40.) Plaintiff timely filed an opposition on March 6, 2009. Defendants have not filed a reply and the motion is deemed submitted.

II. Legal 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

[A]lways 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 summary judgment motion, the court examines the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any. Rule 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).

III. Undisputed Facts*fn1

1. Plaintiff Denis K. Rotroff is in the custody of the California Department of Mental Health ("DMH"), pursuant to California Welfare and Institutions Code sections 6600, et seq., and is housed at Coalinga State Hospital ("CSH").

2. Plaintiff owns a personal laptop computer and has since August 2006. 3. Patients committed to CSH pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code sections 6600, et seq. are not permitted to have access to the Internet.

4. In 2006, CSH issued an administrative directive providing for and establishing the policy for the use of personal laptop computers by patients of CSH.*fn2

5. Administrative Directive No. 654 states: "[u]se of a personal computer and associated accessories and software is a privilege which is determined by the Individual's [sic] appropriate safe guarding, usage, and possession of files, disks, and other media."*fn3

6. Administrative Directive No. 654 states: "[a]ll external communication capability will be disabled before delivery to the Individuals with the exception of USB, serial, and parallel ports for the use of approved external devices."

7. Attachment A of Administrative Directive No. 654 provides the specific criteria for the individual laptops permitted by the directive.

8. Attachment A of Administrative Directive No. 654 requires wireless capability on patients' laptops to be removed either by the vendor or Information Technology.

9. Attachment A of Administrative Directive No. 654 requires that all other external ports be disabled on patients' laptops.

10. Administrative Directive No. 654 states: "Compact Disks (CDRW) will be available for Individual [sic] purchase in the Hospital Canteen. CDRWs will be indelibly marked with Individual's CSH number at the time of purchase. The canteen store is the designated vendor of Individual's CDRWs."

11. Due to contraband and operational problems, on February 28, 2007, the Patient Computer Technology Committee issued a memorandum explaining that there was an immediate moratorium, by order of the Executive ...


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