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Hill v. Daugherty

September 14, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Larry M. Boyle United States Magistrate Judge


Currently pending before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 25), Motion to Extend Discovery Deadline (Docket No. 37), Second Motion to Extend Discovery Deadline (Docket No. 40), Motion for Extension of Time to Submit Evidentiary Supplement (Docket No. 41), and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 42). Having fully reviewed the record, and otherwise being fully informed, the undersigned enters the following Report and Recommendation and Order.


A. Factual Background

Plaintiff is an inmate of the California Department of Corrections and is currently incarcerated at the Taft Correctional Institution, a private penitentiary operated by the GEO Group in Taft, California. Defendant is a guard at the prison. Plaintiff asserts that under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Defendant violated his First Amendment rights by firing him from his position as a prison barber in March 2007. Plaintiff argues that this firing was in retaliation of a grievance he had filed against Defendant in March 2006.

Plaintiff's March 2006 grievance arose after Defendant called him and two other inmates into her office to discuss their alleged disrespect of a prison guard. During that encounter, Plaintiff claims that Defendant improperly confiscated his property as contraband, subjected him to a strip search, and ordered that he be moved from his housing unit. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant made threatening remarks, telling him that she would have the staff write him up so many times that he would be put in segregated housing for so long that the staff would forget about him. Plaintiff filed a grievance, protesting this treatment. During the subsequent months, Plaintiff met with other security officers and the prison's administrative coordinator who, according to Plaintiff, awarded him a watch and $168.39 to account for his lost property. Plaintiff, apparently dissatisfied with the prison's response, continued to petition for "some degree of explanation" for their conclusion regarding Defendant's conduct. Plaintiff's complaints about Defendant's actions continued throughout the rest of 2006 and into 2007, the last one being filed in late February of 2007.

On March 27, 2007, Plaintiff was hired to cut hair in the prison barber shop. On March 30, 2007, Defendant called Plaintiff to her office and informed him that he had been terminated from his job. She advised Plaintiff that she had received a number of complaints regarding haircuts that he had given. Plaintiff maintains that he had only seen five clients and that the complaints must have referred to one of the other barbers. Later that day, he filed a new grievance against Defendant alleging that she had fired him in retaliation for his March 2006 grievance.

Two months later, in early June, Plaintiff received a letter from the warden in response to the allegation of retaliation. In the letter, the warden explained that Plaintiff was terminated for his lack of necessary skill. The letter included an excerpt of the Taft Policy, § 19.001, which stated in pertinent part that assignments to jobs are made according to the "availability of the assignment(s)" and according to "the Institution's security and operational needs." Declaration of Daugherty, p. 36 (Docket No. 31). The letter further noted that Plaintiff did not have the right to remain in any particular job once the institution determined that security or operational needs required his termination. Id.

Nonetheless, Plaintiff continued to file requests and administrative appeals. In late June, Hill received a second letter that informed him that his case had been fully investigated and was without merit. The letter explained that the incident was considered "a GEO Group (GEO) issue" and that Plaintiff could not appeal the warden's decision to the Bureau of Prisons. The letter further informed Plaintiff that this response was to be considered the final administrative appeal, thereby exhausting his administrative remedies. Although Plaintiff filed two more complaints, both were summarily denied.

B. Procedural Posture

Plaintiff filed this complaint against Defendants Jeff Wrigley, Raylean Daugherty, and several other prison officials on August 30, 2007. On May 07, 2008, United States Magistrate Judge Dennis L. Beck recommended that this action proceed only against Defendant Daughterty on plaintiff's First Amendment retaliation claim, thereby dismissing the claims against all other Defendants pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(2). Findings and Recommendations (Docket No. 14). Although given leave by the court to amend his complaint, Plaintiff opted to proceed only on the First Amendment retaliation claim. Reply/Response (Docket No. 12). On July 28, 2008, Chief District Judge Anthony W. Ishii adopted Judge Beck's recommendations in full. Order Adopting Findings and Recommendations (Docket No. 18). Accordingly, Plaintiff's only remaining claim is the First Amendment retaliation claim under Bivens, for which he seeks summary judgment.


A. Extension of Deadlines

Plaintiff seeks to enlarge the discovery deadline. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(b), "the court may, for good cause, extend [time, as requested by Plaintiff]." As Plaintiff's requests to extend discovery (Docket Nos. 37, 40) were made before the deadline lapsed, the court, may grant the motion in its ...

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