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Dearel Gibson v. R. K. Wong

August 5, 2011

DEAREL GIBSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
R. K. WONG, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS ORDER AND

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action is proceeding plaintiff's claim, raised in his original complaint, that defendants Wong, Peck and Fox violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment by ventilating his cell in administrative segregation with "ice cold air." Order and Findings and Recommendations filed June 11, 2010, at 9. This matter is before the court on defendants' motion for summary judgment.*fn1

SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARDS UNDER RULE 56 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 a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).

Under summary judgment practice, the moving party always 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) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). "[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. See 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. See 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 allegations or 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. See 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, see 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, see Wool v. Tandem Computers, Inc., 818 F.2d 1433, 1436 (9th Cir. 1987).

In the endeavor to establish the existence of a factual dispute, the opposing party need not establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor. It is sufficient that "the claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial." T.W. Elec. Serv., 809 F.2d at 631. Thus, the "purpose of summary judgment is to 'pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial.'" Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e) advisory committee's note on 1963 amendments).

In resolving the summary judgment motion, the court examines the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The evidence of the opposing party is to be believed. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. All reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the facts placed before the court must be drawn in favor of the opposing party. See Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. Nevertheless, inferences are not drawn out of the air, and it is the opposing party's obligation to produce a factual predicate from which the inference may be drawn. See Richards v. Nielsen Freight Lines, 602 F. Supp. 1224, 1244-45 (E.D. Cal. 1985), aff'd, 810 F.2d 898, 902 (9th Cir. 1987). Finally, to demonstrate a genuine issue, the opposing party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts . . . . Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (citation omitted).

On October 26, 2009, the court advised plaintiff of the requirements for opposing a motion pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc); Klingele v. Eikenberry, 849 F.2d 409 (9th Cir. 1988). ANALYSIS

I. Undisputed Facts*fn2

At all times relevant to this action plaintiff was a state prisoner housed at California State Prison-Solano. Ex. A to Declaration of William J. Douglas, Deposition of Dearel Gibson (Pl.'s Dep.), 9:21-23. Plaintiff was held in Administrative Segregation Unit Building 10 (Building 10) at that institution from November 10, 2008 to January 16, 2009 and from February 7, 2009 to February 28, 2009. Pl's Dep. 13:20-15:5; Declaration of C. Pesci in Support of Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. From November 10, 2008 to January 16, 1009, plaintiff was housed in a cell by himself. Pl.'s Dep. 13:20-14:10. During that period, plaintiff had at least the following in his cell: a mattress, two sheets, two wool blankets, tennis shoes, two towels, a jumpsuit, three pairs of socks, three boxer briefs, and three t-shirts. Pl.s' Dep. 27:2-33:25; 51:14-52:14. Plaintiff also had hot tap water in his cell and received three meals a day. (Id.)

In Building 10, the air is supplied to both cells and the dayroom from a central HVAC system comprised of three air handling units located on the roof of the building. Declaration of J. Beath in Support of Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, at ¶ 7. Because the same units supply heat and air conditioning to the cells and the dayroom, the temperatures in both the cells and the dayroom are substantially similar. Id. at ¶¶ 7-9.

On December 1, 2008, temperatures were recorded in Building 10 at 72 degrees and 69 degrees. Id. at ¶ 15. On December 23, 2008, the dayroom temperature was recorded at 72 degrees. Id. at ¶ 17.

During the period that plaintiff was housed in administrative segregation, several work orders were issued due to a lack of heat in Building 10. Id. passim. The first was issued on December 9, 2008. Id. at ¶ 16. On that day, a stationary engineer spent two hours investigating the problem of a lack of heat in Building 10 and found that the heating system appeared to be working. Id. On December 23, 2008, the same engineer spent six hours troubleshooting the heating system. Id. at ¶ 17. Again, no problem was discovered at that time. Id. On December 31, 2008, the same engineer spent three hours troubleshooting an apparent lack of heat in Building 10. Id. at ¶ 19. Once again, the engineer found that the system appeared to be working. Id. On January 5, 2009 and January 6, 2009, the same engineer spent one hour each day troubleshooting the heating system, which continued to appear to be working. Id. at ¶¶ 20-21.

On January 8, 2009, the engineer and another individual spent three hours troubleshooting and at that time determined that the three strainers for the heat-exchanger supply pipes were clogged with debris. Id. at ¶ 22. The next day, three individuals spent the entire day cleaning and flushing the system. Id. Troubleshooting was repeated for one hour each day on January 12, 2009 and January 14, 2009. Id. at ¶¶ 23-24. On January 16, 2009, the engineer again spent seven hours troubleshooting and cleaning the system. Id. at ¶ 25. On February 10 and 11, 2009, the engineer spent four hours each day ...


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