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Delano Lartel Wright v. Director of Corrections

December 21, 2011

DELANO LARTEL WRIGHT,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
DIRECTOR OF CORRECTIONS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irma E. Gonzalez, Chief Judge United States District Court

Order Denying Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

Defendants R. Davis and R. Johnson move the Court for entry of summary judgment on Plaintiff's First Amendment retaliation claims against them. Plaintiff has filed an opposition, and Defendants have filed a reply. The Court previously found this motion appropriate for submission on the papers and without oral argument. For the reasons set forth herein, the Court DENIES Defendants' motion.

Factual Background

The relevant facts surrounding Plaintiff's retaliation claim against Defendants Davis and Johnson are as follows. On November 22, 2003, while Plaintiff was an incarcerated at Calipatria State Prison, he and his cellmate, Mr. Weathers, were allegedly assaulted by correctional officers. [First Amended Complaint ("FAC"), Doc. 54, pp. 6-9.] Plaintiff immediately submitted a written grievance about the incident. [Deposition of Delano Wright ("Wright Depo"), Exhibit 1 to Plaintiff's Opposition, pp. 48-49, 54*fn1.]

A week or two*fn2 later, Defendant Johnson escorted Plaintiff to the programming office for a videotape interview by Defendant Davis regarding the November 22 incident. [Johnson Decl., ¶ 4; Davis Decl., ¶ 4.] According to Defendants, before the videotaped interview began, Plaintiff spontaneously stated he had made up the allegations regarding the correctional officers' use of force. [Johnson Decl., ¶ 4 and Exhibit A; Davis Decl., ¶ 4.] Plaintiff, however, asserts that when he and Weathers told Defendants Davis and Johnson about the earlier incident, Defendant Davis responded by telling him he would be put in Administrative Segregation ("Ad Seg") unless he took back his statements. [Wright Depo., p. 54.]

Lieutenant Davis, he says, well, if you don't take back these statements that you're making against my officers, we're going to put you in Ad Seg; you're going to lose your property, and, you know-- basically he was going to F us around. That's what I got out of it. [Id.]

Wright interpreted Davis's statements as an explicit threat to retaliate against him if he did not recant his allegations against the other correctional officers:

A. And Davis said if I don't take back what I'm saying about his officers, I'm going to the hold.

Q. Okay. Do you consider that a threat?

A. Yes. Why am I going to the hole? I didn't do anything.

Q. And did Davis make that threat because of your appeal or why did he make that threat?

A. He said, "If you don't take back what you're saying about my officers, you're going to the hold." So I don't know. What I'm saying about his officers is, they choked me. That's all I'm saying.

Q. Okay. And he didn't stop you from making those allegations, though?

A. No. He just said, "You're going to the hold if you do this camera -- if you get on camera saying this about my officers, you're going to the hole. Your property is going to get lost. You're going to have to ...


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