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Knight v. Lea

July 9, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Craig M. Kellison United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court is defendants' unopposed motion for summary judgment (Doc. 39).*fn1


A. Plaintiff's Allegations

This action proceeds on plaintiff's first amended complaint, filed on February 8, 2008 (Doc. 16). Plaintiff names Lea, Oftiedahl, Lyons, Simmerson, Gower, Hale, and Wong. This action stems from an incident on June 24, 2005, where plaintiff was stabbed ten times by inmate Jackson. Plaintiff includes an "attachment" setting forth allegations as to each of these defendants:


In "Attachment A," plaintiff claims that, during a classification hearing held on November 6, 2003, defendant Lea informed plaintiff that an "R-suffix" was being placed in plaintiff's central file due to a "425 PC alleged violation in plaintiff's probation report...." According to plaintiff, defendant Lea knew this information was false and that it would "reflect upon plaintiff's 'paper work.'" He states that an R-suffix identifies him to other inmates as a child molester and that this designation would subject him to attacks. Plaintiff states that, even though defendant Lea knew all this, she did nothing to "invoke normal protocol for a prisoner noted as a 'R' suffix child molester." He states that defendant Lea "intentionally placed inmate Knight in general population knowing and with deliberate indifference cause inmate Knight to be stabbed."


In "Attachment B," plaintiff states that defendant Oftiedahl was present at the November 2003 hearing. He states that, by being present, defendant Oftiedahl acted "in conjunction with Captain M. Lea, to place this erroneous information they both were knowledgeable of what they were doing." According to plaintiff, defendants knew the R-suffix classification was based on an error but nonetheless left it in his file.


Plaintiff sets for allegations as to defendant Lyons in "Attachment C." Specifically, plaintiff states that, on April 11, 2005, he informed other correctional officers that his life was in danger. According to plaintiff, defendant Lyons was present and, upon hearing this, informed the other correctional officers that the R-suffix designation was added because plaintiff had "killed his wife and stabbed his step daughter." He states "this was done within the clear hearing distance of other inmates and free staff further putting plaintiff's life in danger."


As to defendant Simmerson, plaintiff outlines his allegations in "Attachment D." Plaintiff claims that during the April 2005 episode defendant Simmerson told plaintiff: "Tell me something or I'll put you back out on the yard and tell them (meaning inmates) what you have been up here telling us." Again, plaintiff states this was done in the "plain hearing of other inmates further putting plaintiff's life in serious danger."


In "Attachment E," plaintiff states that, on April 22, 2005, he "approached staff" saying that he had safety concerns. At a subsequent classification hearing, plaintiff states that defendant Gower told him: "I want to put you back out on the yard on D yard." Plaintiff responded: "You can't do that; if you do that you will get me stabbed." According to plaintiff, he was put back in the general population notwithstanding his objection to defendant Gower.


Plaintiff alleges in "Attachment F" that, at a May 26, 2005, classification hearing, he told defendant Hale that his life would be in danger if he was placed in the general population. He claims that, even though defendant knew of a risk to his safety, he allowed plaintiff to be returned to the general population.


In "Attachment H," plaintiff states that defendant Wong knew of his safety concerns and "placed me on D yard anyway over my objections saying I would be stabbed and then... lied... saying I was in agreement with the committee's actions."

B. Defendants' Evidence

Defendants' evidence primarily relates the factual allegations regarding the R-suffix which form the basis of plaintiff's claims. In the introduction to their motion, defendants state:

... Knight was the victim of an inmate-on-inmate attack while housed at High Desert State Prison on June 27, 2005. Knight alleges that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his safety by mistakenly classifying him as an R-suffix inmate and releasing him to the general population despite knowledge that doing so placed his safety at risk....

Defendants then indicate in a footnote that an "R-suffix" is a "notation included in the custody classification of an inmate with a history of sexual offenses." Defendants continue as follows:

... Knight's lawsuit is based upon two mistaken references to an R-suffix designation, including an October 27, 2003, Reclassification Score Sheet and a November 6, 2003, Classification Services Representative (CSR) Action chrono. Knight's custody classification, however, was never modified to include an R-suffix.

Defendants outline the following facts, which are derived from plaintiff's deposition testimony, the declarations of defendants, and various ...

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