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Julio Cesar Ibanez v. M. Miller

February 3, 2011

JULIO CESAR IBANEZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
M. MILLER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in a civil rights action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On July 30, 2010, defendants Patton, Townsend, and Wright moved for summary judgment. Dckt. No. 68. An additional defendant, B. Bevan, has not yet been served and is not a party to the motion. See Dckt. No. 85. For the following reasons, the undersigned recommends that the motion be granted.

I. Background

The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted: On May 24, 2005, while incarcerated at Pelican Bay State Prison ("PBSP"), plaintiff told prison officials that he was concerned for his safety because the Mexican Mafia prison gang had placed a "hit" on him. Dckt. No. 70, Pl.'s Stmt. of Undisputed Facts (hereinafter "Pl.'s SUF"), No. 1; Dckt. No. 68, Defs.' Stmt. of Undisputed facts (hereinafter "Defs.' SUF"), No. 1. According to plaintiff, he was interviewed by a Sergeant Rice the same day. Pl.'s SUF 2 & Ex. 1 to Pl.'s Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. (hereinafter "Pl.'s Dep.") at 17:8-19:10. Prison officials placed plaintiff in administrative segregation for ten months while investigating plaintiff's claim. Pl.'s SUF 2,5; Defs.' SUF 2. According to plaintiff, and not expressly disputed by defendants, a Lieutenant Miller interviewed him in November 2005 in connection with the investigation, which Lieutenant Miller conducted. Dckt. No. 54, Pl.'s Third Am. Compl. (hereinafter "Compl.") at 6, ¶ 14.

Plaintiff had previously been stabbed while imprisoned at the San Diego County Jail in 2003. Pl.'s SUF 3; Defs.' SUF 3. He "think[s]" he told Sergeant Rice of the stabbing during the May 24, 2005 interview. Pl.'s Dep. at 25:4 ("I think I did tell Sergeant Rice[.]"). Plaintiff states in his undisputed facts that he told Lieutenant Miller of the 2003 stabbing "prior to the conclusion of his investigation," citing to his deposition as support. Pl.'s SUF 4. However, plaintiff testified clearly in his deposition that he did not tell Lieutenant Miller of the 2003 stabbing. Pl.'s Dep. at 24:23-25:11; see also Defs.' SUF 4. None of the documentation of the investigation into plaintiff's safety concerns mentions the 2003 stabbing. Pl.'s Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. 5 In Supp. Thereof; Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J., Decl. of Diana Esquivel In Supp. Thereof (hereinafter "Esquivel Decl."), Ex. A. After completing his investigation into plaintiff's safety concerns, Lieutenant Miller found no sustainable reason that would justify Ibanez remaining in Administrative Segregation. None of the information provided by Ibanez proved to be correct . . . . [A]ll the information that was obtained leads me to believe that Ibanez was in good standing with the Southern Mexicans.[*fn1 ] Based on the information at hand, it is my recommendation that Ibanez be returned to ICC and cleared for return to General Population.

Pl.'s Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. 5 at 6; see also Defs.' SUF 6. Plaintiff appeared

before PBSP's Institutional Classification Committee ("ICC") on November 30, 2005. Pl.'s SUF 6; Defs.' SUF 7. The ICC informed plaintiff of the results of the investigation and expressed concern that he was a "predator" or "sleeper" -- an inmate who claims safety concerns in order to be placed in a special needs yard ("SNY") to carry out an assault. Pl.'s SUF 5-6; Defs.' SUF 8. The ICC recommended that plaintiff be transferred to another prison. Pl.'s SUF 7; Defs.' SUF 9. Plaintiff reiterated to the ICC his desire to be placed in an SNY, but the ICC recommended placement in general population. Pl.'s SUF 7; Pl.'s Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. 5 at

7. Plaintiff was informed of his right to appeal the ICC's decision but did not do so. Defs.' SUF 11; Pl.'s Dep. at 28:21-29:3.

Plaintiff was transferred to High Desert State Prison ("HDSP") on March 22, 2006. Pl.'s SUF 9; Defs.' SUF 12. At HDSP, defendant Bevan (not a party to the instant motion) assigned plaintiff to a general housing unit. Pl.'s SUF 10; Defs.' SUF 13. Defendants Patton, Townsend, and Wright were not involved in that decision. Defs.' SUF 14; Pl.'s Dep. at 10:12-13:3. Plaintiff did not appeal defendant Bevan's decision to place him in general population. Defs.' SUF 14; Pl.'s Dep. at 36:6-9. Plaintiff claims that indirect threats were made against him by inmates passing in front of his cell between March 22 and March 28, 2005. Pl.'s SUF 11; Defs.' SUF 16. Plaintiff did not inform any prison staff of these threats. Defs.' SUF 12; Pl.'s Dep. at17.

On March 28, 2005, a Unit Classification Committee ("UCC") meeting was held regarding plaintiff. Pl.'s SUF 19; Defs.' SUF 18; Esquivel Decl., Ex. C. The committee was comprised of defendants Wright, Patton, and Townsend. Pl.'s SUF 13; Defs.' SUF 19. Plaintiff did not tell the defendants of the 2003 stabbing, his safety concerns, or his desired placement in an SNY. Pl.'s SUF 17; Defs.' SUF 24-26. According to the "Classification Chrono" prepared by the UCC on that date, plaintiff "stated he understood committee's actions," was "in agreement with this committee's decision," was aware of his right to appeal the decision, and "was an active participant during the hearing." Esquivel Decl., Ex. C. Plaintiff contends, however, that the "brief and forceful" way in which the meeting was held prevented him from stating his safety concerns. Pl.'s SUF 17-18. Defendants declare that they were aware of the concerns plaintiff had expressed at PBSP and the results of the consequent investigation, and plaintiff has not come forward with any evidence or argument disputing defendants' knowledge of the investigation and its results. Defs.' SUF 22-23; Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J., Decl. of M. Townsend In Supp. Thereof (hereinafter "Townsend Decl.") at ¶ 6; Decl. of M. Wright In Supp. Thereof (hereinafter "Wright Decl.") at ¶¶ 7-10; Decl. of D. Patton In Supp. Thereof (hereinafter "Patton Decl.") at ¶¶ 6-7. The UCC decided to keep plaintiff in general population. Pl.'s SUF 19; Defs.' SUF 30. Ibanez did not appeal the decision or take any other steps to complain about his placement or air his safety concerns. Defs.' SUF 31; Pl.'s Dep. at 46:2-18.

On April 4, 2006, plaintiff was stabbed by two inmates in the exercise yard. Pl.'s SUF 21; Defs.' SUF 32. He was placed in administrative segregation where he remained until an ICC review on April 13, 2006. Pl.'s SUF 22-23; Defs.' SUF 33. Defendant Wright was a member of the April 13, 2006 ICC committee, and plaintiff contends that Wright opposed plaintiff's placement in an SNY at the committee's meeting. Pl.'s SUF 23-24; Defs.' SUF 34. The ICC decided to place plaintiff in an SNY. Pl.'s SUF 25; Defs.' SUF 36.

In this lawsuit, plaintiff alleges that defendants violated his rights to due process and to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by being deliberately indifferent to his safety needs.

II. Analysis

A. Summary Judgment Procedure

Summary judgment is appropriate when it is demonstrated that there exists "no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(2). Summary judgment avoids unnecessary trials in cases in which the parties do not dispute the facts relevant to the determination of the issues in the case, or in which there is insufficient evidence for a jury to determine those facts in favor of the non-movant. Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 600 (1998); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-50 (1986); Nw. Motorcycle Ass'n v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 18 F.3d 1468, 1471-72 (9th Cir. 1994). At bottom, a summary judgment motion asks "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party ...


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