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Thornell Brown v. Jawayne Fambrough

November 7, 2011

THORNELL BROWN,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
JAWAYNE FAMBROUGH, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. 49)

Order

I. Background

Plaintiff Thornell Brown ("Plaintiff") is a prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"). Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action is proceeding against Defendants Jawayne Fambrough, Jackson Copeland, V. Yates, Stephaine Amoako, Jerome Peacock, and John Whitehead for violation of the Eighth Amendment. Pending before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment, filed April 4, 2011. Defs.' Mot. Summ. J., Doc. 49. Plaintiff filed his opposition on May 16, 2011.*fn1 Pl.'s Opp'n, Doc. 54. Defendants filed their reply on May 24, 2011. Defs.' Reply, Doc. 55. The matter is submitted pursuant to Local Rule 230(l).

II. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate when it is demonstrated that there exists no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). 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). "[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. at 324. 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 dispute 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(c); 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); Thrifty Oil Co. v. Bank of Am. Nat'l Trust & Sav. Ass'n, 322 F.3d 1039, 1046 (9th Cir. 2002); 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, Long v. County of L.A., 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006); 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 former Rule 56(e) advisory committee's note on 1963 amendments).

In resolving a motion for summary judgment, 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, Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, and all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the facts placed before the court must be drawn in favor of the opposing party, Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (citing United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962) (per curiam)). Nevertheless, inferences are not drawn out of the air, and it is the opposing party's obligation to produce a factual predicate from which an inference may be drawn. 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 dispute, 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 586-87 (citations omitted).

III. Statement Of Facts*fn2

On August 23, 2006, Plaintiff was incarcerated in Facility D, Building 3 at Kern Valley State Prison ("KVSP"). Amoako Decl. ¶¶ 2-3; Fambrough Decl. ¶¶ 2-3; Whitehead Decl. Ex. A, 7. Defendant S. Amoako is a correctional officer at KVSP. Amoako Decl. ¶ 1. Defendant J. Copeland is a correctional officer at KVSP. Copeland Decl. ¶ 1. Defendant J. Fambrough is a correctional officer at KVSP. Fambrough Decl. ¶ 1. Defendant J. Peacock is a correctional sergeant at KVSP. Peacock Decl. ¶ 1. Defendant J. Whitehead was a correctional lieutenant at KVSP. Whitehead Decl. ¶ 1. Defendant V. Yates was a sick relief officer at KVSP. Yates Decl. ¶¶ 1-2.

At approximately 9:50 a.m., inmates in Building 3, including Plaintiff, were released to the yard. Amoako Decl. ¶¶ 2-3; Fambrough Decl. ¶¶ 3-4. Plaintiff was arguing with Officer Garcia about the manner in which Garcia was searching him. Amoako Decl. ¶ 3; Fambrough Decl. ¶ 4; Whitehead Decl. Ex A, 19-20. Plaintiff declares that officer Garcia had pulled Plaintiff's boxer shorts up into Plaintiff's buttocks. Pl.'s Opp'n, Pl.'s Decl. ¶ 13. Defendants contend that Plaintiff was visibly upset and irritated. Amoako Decl. ¶ 4; Fambrough Decl. ¶ 4; Whitehead Decl. Ex. A, 19-20. Plaintiff declares that he stepped one or two feet forward away from ...


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