The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur L. Alarcón United States Circuit Judge Sitting by Designation
Jarmaal Laronde Smith is a state prisoner proceeding in pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. No. 1). On May 23, 2007, Smith filed a verified complaint alleging that Defendants LeAnn Crones (Director of Corrections), Tom Felker (Warden of High Desert State Prison), Sergeant Edwards Simmerson (corrections officer High Desert State Prison), and Scott Norton (corrections officer High Desert State Prison) "violated plaintiff's right not to have cruel and unusual punishment inflicted upon him" under the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. (Doc. No. 1).*fn1 He alleged that Defendants Crones, Felker, and Simmerson, as supervisors of correctional officers, were deliberately indifferent to their responsibility to protect Smith from Defendants Norton's use of excessive force against Smith on January 12, 2006.
On March 2, 2009, Defendants Simmerson and Norton filed an answer to the complaint. (Doc. No. 24.) Defendant Simmerson filed a motion for summary judgment on June 23, 2009 on the ground that there were no genuine issues of material fact and that Defendant Simmerson is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. (Doc. No. 57). Plaintiff field a timely opposition on August 12, 2009 (Doc. No. 81) and Defendant Simmerson timely replied on August 14, 2009 (Doc. No. 82). For the reasons set forth below, Defendant Simmerson's motion for summary judgment is granted.
The following are undisputed facts taken from Plaintiff's opposition to the motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 81).
Smith is a state prisoner who was incarcerated in High Desert State Prison's administrative segregation unit (Z-unit) in January 12, 2006. (Id. at 4.) Smith claims that, on January 12, 2006, he attempted to get an officer's attention by kicking his cell door. (Id.) Officers Norton and Beasly responded. (Id.) Smith informed the officers that he was having thoughts of hurting himself, and needed to speak to a psychologist. (Id.) Norton handcuffed Smith and instructed the control officer to open his cell door. (Id. at 5.) The door stuck, and would not open. (Id.) Norton pushed and pulled the door to get it back on track. (Id.) He again instructed the control officer to open the door. (Id.) This time, the door opened. (Id.)
Norton escorted Smith to the holding cell at the front of the building. (Id.) When they approached the holding cell, Defendant Simmerson and approximately five other officers were standing nearby. (Id.) Norton stated, "Simmerson get out of here." (Id.) Simmerson left the area. (Id.)
As Norton unlocked the door of the holding cell, he told the remaining officers, "the rest of you get out of here." (Id.) Only officers Beasly and Kimble remained. (Id. at 6.) Norton suddenly placed his hand on the back of Smith's neck, and rammed his head into the back of the holding cell where the metal "fencing" of the holding cage backs up against the concrete wall. (Id.) Norton then put his forearm on the back of Smith's neck, and stated, "if you ever kick my fucking door again I'll break your fucking neck." (Id.)
Simmerson later reappeared. (Id.) Smith told Simmerson that he needed to speak with him regarding some "unethical conduct." (Id.) Simmerson instructed Smith to speak with the psychologist first. (Id. at 7.) Smith did not state that he had been assaulted. (Id. at 6.) There was no injury to Smith's head where it came into contact with the holding cell. (Id.) Simmerson was not aware of the alleged attack. (Id. at 7.)
Summary judgment is appropriate where "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is 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). A principal purpose of summary judgment "is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims...." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).
In opposing summary judgment, a nonmoving party must "go beyond the pleadings and, by... affidavits, or by the 'depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 324 (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)).
"[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). Material facts are those which may affect the outcome of the case. Id. at 248. If the moving party demonstrates an absence of a genuine issue of material facts, then the opposing party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). According to Rule 56(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the opposing party must provide "specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial." Id. at 587 (emphasis in original).
"On summary judgment the inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts contained in such materials must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962). A district court must not make any credibility findings. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. "The moving party bears the initial burden to demonstrate the absence of any genuine issue of material fact." Horphag Research Ltd. v. Garcia, 475 F.3d 1029, 1035 (9th Cir. 2007). "Once the moving party meets its initial burden, however, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to set ...