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Miller v. Catlett

February 1, 2010

CURTIS E. MILLER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
T. CATLETT; A. AMAT, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Dana M. Sabraw United States District Judge

ORDER (1) ADOPTING IN PART AND REJECTING IN PART REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND (2) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [Docket Nos. 12, 22]

This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' motion to dismiss the Complaint. Plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion, and Defendants filed a reply. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Civil Local Rule 72.3, the motion was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge for a Report and Recommendation ("Report"). On November 10, 2009, Magistrate Judge Peter C. Lewis issued his Report, recommending that the Court grant Defendants' motion, and dismiss the case without prejudice. Plaintiff filed objections to the Report. For the reasons set out below, the Court adopts in part and denies in part the Report, and grants in part and denies in part Defendants' motion.

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

This district court's role in reviewing a magistrate judge's report and recommendation is set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Under this statute, the district court "shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report . . . to which objection is made," and "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). When no objections are filed, the court may assume the correctness of the magistrate judge's findings of fact and decide the motion on the applicable law. Campbell v. United States Dist. Court, 501 F.2d 196, 201 (9th Cir. 1974); Johnson v. Nelson, 142 F.Supp.2d 1215, 1217 (S.D. Cal. 2001). Under such circumstances, the Ninth Circuit has held that "a failure to file objections only relieves the trial court of its burden to give de novo review to factual findings; conclusions of law must still be reviewed de novo." Barilla v. Ervin, 886 F.2d 1514, 1518 (9th Cir. 1989), overruled on other grounds by Simpson v. Lear Astronics Corp., 77 F.3d 1170, 1174 (9th Cir. 1996), (citing Britt v. Simi Valley Unified Sch. Dist., 708 F.2d 452, 454 (9th Cir. 1983)).

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a state prisoner currently housed in Calipatria State Prison. (Compl. at 1.) He alleges that on May 30, 2007, black prisoners in his housing unit assaulted Defendant Amat. (Id. at 3.) As a result, Plaintiff's housing unit was placed on lock down. (Id.)

On July 3, 2007, the Warden at Calipatria issued a program status report restoring some privileges to black prisoners in Plaintiff's housing unit, including Plaintiff, but most of the privileges were not accorded to the black prisoners. (Id.) After the July 3, 2007 announcement from the Warden, Plaintiff noticed that correctional officers in his housing unit were attempting to provoke black prisoners into altercations in an effort to have the restrictions reinstituted. (Id. at 3-3a.)

On July 14, 2007, Plaintiff filed a group employee misconduct complaint alleging that the Warden and/or his subordinates were retaliating against black prisoners for the assault on Defendant Amat. (Id. at 3a.)

On September 11, 2007, Defendant Amat approached Plaintiff's cell with a wrapped object he found in the dayroom, and asked Plaintiff's cellmate if the object would stick Amat. Plaintiff's cellmate said he did not know. Amat replied that the object came out of Plaintiff's cell, and walked away. (Id.) Defendant Amat then returned to Plaintiff's cell with Defendant Catlett, who ordered Plaintiff and his cellmate to exit their cell. (Id.) Plaintiff and his cellmate were then placed in Administrative Segregation ("AdSeg"). That same day, a Crime/Incident Report was filed against Plaintiff and his cellmate alleging possession of an inmate-manufactured weapon. In that Report, Defendant Amat stated he found the weapon while collecting laundry in front of Plaintiff's cell.

The following day, Defendants Amat and Catlett filed a Rules Violation Report ("115") concerning the weapon in which Defendant Amat restated that he found the weapon in laundry that came out of Plaintiff's cell. (Id. at 3a-3b.)

On November 20, 2007, Plaintiff was found not guilty of the rule violation by the disciplinary hearing officer. (Id. at 3b.) He was released from AdSeg on November 27, 2007. (Id.) On April 10, 2008, the district attorney declined to prosecute the matter. (Id.)

Plaintiff filed the present Complaint on December 30, 2008. He alleges a claim for retaliation and for knowingly and willfully filing a false report.

III. DISCUSSION

Defendants raise three arguments in support of their motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint. First, they assert Plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. Second, Defendants contend Plaintiff has failed to state a cognizable retaliation claim. Finally, Defendants assert ...


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