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Carter v. Munoz

May 25, 2010

DESHA CARTER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MUNOZ, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandra M. Snyder United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DENYING IN PART AND GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

(Docs. 43, 51)

Order on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

I. Procedural History

Plaintiff Desha M. Carter ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed this action on November 30, 2007. The Court screened Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, and found that it states cognizable claims against Defendants Munoz, Paz, Parra, and Silva for violation of the Eighth Amendment arising from the conditions Plaintiff was subjected to in the management cell, against Defendant Munoz for violation of the Due Process Clause arising from Plaintiff's placement in the management cell, and against Defendant Munoz for retaliation in violation of the First Amendment.*fn1 Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a); Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007); Alvarez v. Hill, 518 F.3d 1152, 1157-58 (9th Cir. 2008). On November 9, 2009, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on all cognizable claims. (Doc. 43.) Plaintiff filed his opposition on December 7, 2009. (Doc. 49.) Defendants filed a motion for a twenty day extension of time to file their reply brief in support of their motion for summary judgment which is hereby granted nunc pro tunc. (Doc. 51.) Defendants filed their reply on January 8, 2010. (Doc. 52.) The motion is deemed submitted.

II. Summary Judgment 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. Fed. R. Civ. P. 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).

The parties bear the burden of supporting their motions and oppositions with the papers they wish the Court to consider and/or by specifically referencing any other portions of the record they wish the Court to consider. Carmen v. San Francisco Unified School Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1031 (9th Cir. 2001). The Court will not undertake to mine the record for triable issues of fact. Id.

III. Chronology of Events

The events at issue in this action allegedly occurred at California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison ("SATF") in Corcoran, California. The parties' presentation of the events in their moving and opposing papers do not portray a clear and accurate presentation of the events reflected in the evidence submitted. Thus, based on the evidence submitted, and for clarity sake, the events at issue in this case have been placed in chronological order. 12/01/06 -- Plaintiff is housed in Ad-Seg because he had been recently transferred to SATF.

(Doc. 49, Plntf. Opp., p. 2.)

-- Defendant Munoz informed Plaintiff of the compaction order and informed Plaintiff that he would be assigned a cellmate. (Doc. 44, Def. UF 1.)

-- Plaintiff told Defendant Munoz that, because he was new at SATF, he did not know anyone with whom he would be compatible, and that he would not accept a cellmate. (Doc. 44, Def. UF 2).

-- Defendant Munoz informed Plaintiff that if he did not accept a "cellie," he would be placed on management status. (Doc. 49, Plntf. Exh. C, p. 27; Doc. 44-2, Def. Exh. A, Plntf Dep., 23:12-24:6.)

-- Plaintiff wrote up an inmate appeal against Defendant Munoz for trying to force him into accepting a cellmate with whom Plaintiff was not compatible and because Defendant Munoz said he did not know anything about Plaintiff going through validation for gang association that Plaintiff would have to find a cellmate because Defendant Munoz was trying to comply with compaction orders due to limited space. (Doc. 44-2, Def. Exh. A, Plntf Dep., 18:24-24:17.)

12/02/06 -- Plaintiff was taken to a holding cell to talk with another inmate to see if they were compatible, but they quickly knew that they were not compatible and so advised Defendant Munoz. (Doc. 44, Def. UF 4-6.)

-- Defendant Munoz got irate and flustered that Plaintiff would not agree to room with the other inmate. (Doc. 44-2, Def. Exh. A, Plntf Dep., 24:12-25:1.)

-- Plaintiff gave Defendant Munoz his inmate appeal because Defendant Munoz called him to talk with another inmate about being cellmates despite their conversation the day before. (Doc. 44-2, Def. Exh. A, Plntf Dep., 20:17-22:9.)

-- Defendant Munoz read Plaintiff's inmate appeal and got angry again and retorted that Plaintiff was not the only one who could file paperwork. Defendant Munoz then asked Plaintiff if he was refusing to take a cellmate, but Plaintiff responded that he was not refusing a cellmate, he was refusing to accept a gang member for a cellmate. Defendant Munoz then called other officers, including Defendant Paz, to take Plaintiff's belongings. Plaintiff then said that he would share a cell with the other inmate, but that Plaintiff would not sign a compatibility form because he knew they were not compatible and did not want trouble. (Doc. 44-2, Def. Exh. A, Plntf Dep., 25:1-26:5; Doc. 49, Plntf. Opp., 3:14-17.)

-- Defendant Munoz had Plaintiff moved to cell 117 and put him on management status wearing nothing but his boxers without any of his property, including his regular mattress (being given instead a makeshift mattress composed of cotton and gauze). (Doc. 44, Def. UF 4-8, & 10; Doc. 44-2, Def. Exh. A, Plntf Dep., 28:8-32:17 and 69:10-20.)

12/03/06 -- Captain Diaz came into the building and Plaintiff spoke with him about the mattress. Captain Diaz instructed C.O. Turner to remove the cotton & gauze and to give Plaintiff a real mattress. (Doc. 44-2, Def. Exh. A, Plntf Dep., 69:10-70:15; Doc. 49, Plntf Exh. F, p. 38.)

12/06/02 -- Plaintiff had received a real mattress by this date. (Doc. 44-2, Def. Exh. A, Plntf Dep., 70:17-19.)

12/12/06 -- Apparently Plaintiff was taken off management status this date as the Operating Procedures say management status is to last for ten (10) days. (Doc. 44-2, Def. Exh. B, p. 33.) Defendants argue "Plaintiff was released from management status after ten (10) days," but do not submit any evidence to directly support that assertion. (Doc. 43, MTD, 7:16.) ...


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