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Gray v. Woodford

June 2, 2010

RICKY GRAY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JEANNE WOODFORD ET AL, DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER: (1) OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS TO THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION; [Doc. No. 254] (2) ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION; [Doc. No. 252] (3) GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; [Doc. No. 229] (4) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR AN ORDER TO SEAL THE COURT FILE [Doc. No. 256]

Plaintiff Ricky Gray, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed the instant action for alleged violations of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On September 15, 2009, Defendants M. Maldonado and R. Zaragoza filed a motion for summary judgment as to all claims. (Doc. No. 229.) Plaintiff timely filed an opposition (Doc. No. 241) and Defendants timely replied (Doc. No. 249). Before the Court is the assigned Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation ("R&R"), recommending that the Court grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (Doc. No. 252.) On February 26, 2010, Plaintiff filed objections to the R&R. (Doc. No. 254.) On March 12, 2010, Defendants replied to Plaintiff's objections. (Doc. No. 255.) For the reasons set forth herein, the Court ADOPTS the R&R in its entirety and GRANTS Defendants' motion for summary judgment.

Also pending before the Court is Defendants' ex parte application for an order to seal the court file. (Doc. No. 256.) Plaintiff filed a timely opposition (Doc. No. 259), and Defendants replied (Doc. No. 261). For the reasons set forth herein, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendants' ex parte application.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff's fifth amended complaint ("FAC") arises out of events that allegedly occurred after his transfer from Lancaster State Prison to Centinela State Prison. Plaintiff claims that Defendant correctional sergeant Zaragoza, an officer in Receiving and Release at Centinela, improperly withheld Plaintiff's personal property in retaliation for an inmate appeal Plaintiff had previously filed against him for Defendant's use of disrespectful and abusive language. Plaintiff's personal property included a pair of boots, tennis shoes, blue jeans, a clock, typewriter, photo album, CD holder, and headphone extension cord.

In the FAC, Plaintiff also asserts claims against Defendant Maldonado for conducting a gang validation investigation on Plaintiff and placing him in administrative segregation. Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Maldonado's conduct was retaliation for Plaintiff's activity as a jail house lawyer and submission of staff misconduct complaints. Plaintiff also asserts that he was denied due process because Defendant Maldonado did not have sufficient evidence to revalidate him as an active member of the Black Guerilla Family ("BGF") prison gang.

LEGAL STANDARD

I. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b) - Report and Recommendation

A district judge "may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions" on a dispositive matter prepared by a magistrate judge proceeding without the consent of the parties for all purposes. Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). An objecting party may "serve and file specific written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations," and "a party may respond to another party's objections." Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b).

In reviewing an R&R, "the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 676 (1980) (when objections are made, the court must make a de novo determination of the factual findings to which there are objections). "If neither party contests the magistrate's proposed findings of fact, the court may assume their correctness and decide the motion on the applicable law." Orand v. United States, 602 F.2d 207, 208 (9th Cir.1979). Objections must, however, be specific, not vague or generalized. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(2) (requiring "specific" objections).

II. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 - Motion for Summary Judgment

A moving party is entitled to summary judgment only if the moving party can demonstrate that (1) "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact," and (2) it is "entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A material issue of fact is one that raises a question that a trier of fact must answer to determine the rights of the parties under the substantive law that applies. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute is genuine if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. at 248. The initial burden is on the moving party to show that both prongs are satisfied. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The moving party can satisfy this burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence that negates an essential element of the nonmoving party's case; or (2) by demonstrating that the nonmoving party failed to make a showing sufficient to establish an element essential to that party's case on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 322--23. If the moving party fails to discharge this initial burden, summary judgment must be denied, and the court need not consider the nonmoving party's evidence. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 159--60 (1970).

If the moving party meets this initial burden, the nonmoving party cannot defeat summary judgment merely by demonstrating "that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252 ("The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmoving party's position is not sufficient."). Rather, the nonmoving party must "go beyond the pleadings and by [his] own affidavits, or by 'the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324 (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)). The inferences to be drawn from the facts must be viewed in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Gibson v. County of Washoe, Nev., 290 F.3d 1175, 1180 (9th Cir. 2002). ...


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