Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ryles v. Felker

July 21, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard C. Tallman United States Circuit Judge


Amos Ryles originally brought suit against Warden T. Felker, Sergeant W. Patton, and several other California correctional officers from High Desert State Prison in Susanville, California. After screening conducted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), only a single claim was permitted to go forward against Sergeant Patton, a former employee of High Desert State Prison.*fn1 The remaining claim is one for excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

The matter now before the court is Sergeant Patton's Motion for Summary Judgment (#42). Ryles exhausted his administrative appeals through the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. This Court DENIES Sergeant Patton's Motion for Summary Judgment (#42).


Ryles is a state prisoner who, until recently, was incarcerated at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, California. The parties agree that in June 2007 Ryles was an inmate at High Desert State Prison where Sergeant Patton was a corrections officer. The Amended Complaint (#13) states that on June 22, 2007, "Sergeant Patton assaulted [Ryles] when [he] was in handcuffs by hitting [him] in [his] facial area and was trying to put a spit mask over [his] face."

During his deposition, Ryles explained the incident in more detail. Ryles testified that he was brought into the dining room for an interview regarding a different incident with a corrections officer for which Ryles had previously filed a grievance (referred to as a form CDC 602 by the parties). One of the corrections officers present said that Ryles had spit at him and Sergeant Patton placed a spit mask on Ryles. (Mot. for Summ. J. (#42) Ex. A at 87, 92-93.) After the spit mask was in place and while Sergeant Patton was escorting Ryles back to his cell, Ryles contends that Sergeant Patton hit Ryles in the face with a closed fist while walking next to him. (Mot. for Summ. J. (#42) Ex. A. at 89-90, 92-94.)

Also on June 22, 2007, Ryles submitted a grievance seeking a transfer to another prison alleging, among other things, that Sergeant Patton "putt [sic] the spit mask on my face push [sic] my face against the wall." (Mot. for Summ. J. (#42) Ex. B at Ex. 2.) Ryles's grievance was, by its own terms, treated primarily as a request for a transfer to a different prison, although it also listed several complaints against prison staff as the basis for the request. (Mot. for Summ. J. (#42) Ex. B. at Ex. 2.) This grievance was properly filed with the prison authorities and went through all three available levels of administrative appeal. At each level of appeal the prison officials found that Ryles's complaint apparently did not "meet the criteria as a staff complaint," because Ryles "failed to provide any evidence supporting [his] allegations of staff misconduct therefore [his] allegation was determined to be unproven." (Mot. for Summ. J. (#42) Ex. B. at Ex. 2.) The prison's decision denying the transfer became final, and the administrative appeals were exhausted, with the Director's Level decision on December 3, 2007. (Mot. for Summ. J. (#42) Ex. B at 2-3.) The Director's Level appeal determined, in relevant part, that Ryles's "dissatisfaction with staff actions [did] not rise to the level of staff misconduct." (Mot. for Summ. J. (#42) Ex. B. at Ex. 2.)

Ryles brought this suit in the Eastern District of California on December 20, 2007. Sergeant Patton filed his Motion for Summary Judgment (#42) on June 1, 2010, and Ryles failed to timely respond with opposing papers. The Court previously denied a motion, filed after the deadline had passed, to extend the time to reply given the pendency of the August 9, 2010, trial date. (Order (#47).)


Ryles now raises the following claim:

1. Sergeant Patton violated Ryles's Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by hitting him in the face with a closed fist on June 22, 2007.


Summary judgment is proper when the "pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The court views the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).

If the movant initially shows that no genuine issue exists for trial, the non-movant cannot then rest on the pleadings but must respond with evidence setting forth "specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). The non-moving party has the "burden of advert[ing] to 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.' . . . It is not the district court's job to sift through the record to find admissible evidence in support of the non-moving party's case." Claar v. Burlington N. R.R., 29 F.3d 499, 504 (9th Cir. 1994) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986)). When "the record taken as a whole could not lead a ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.