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William Thomas Coats v. High Desert State Prison

January 13, 2012

WILLIAM THOMAS COATS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HIGH DESERT STATE PRISON, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



ORDER AND FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment by defendants' deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. This matter is before the court on plaintiff's motion to compel discovery responses and on defendants' motion for summary judgment. Each is addressed below.

PLAINTIFF'S DISCOVERY MOTION

On March 21, 2011, plaintiff filed a motion styled as a motion for imposition of discovery sanctions; review of the motion demonstrates that it is a motion to compel further responses to plaintiff's first and second set of interrogatories. Discovery closed in this action on December 17, 2010, and discovery requests were to be served not later than sixty days prior to that date. See Discovery and Scheduling order filed September 8, 2010, at 6. On December 10, 2010, plaintiff moved for an extension of time to serve a first and second set of interrogatories on defendants. That motion was granted by order filed January 14, 2011. That order provides that the interrogatories would be timely if served on or before thirty days from the date of this order, and that defendants should respond to such interrogatories within forty-five days from the date of the order if the interrogatories had already been served and otherwise from the date of service of the interrogatories. Order filed January 14, 2011. No specific extension of time was sought or granted to move to compel further responses to those interrogatories.

Assuming arguendo that an extension of time to file a motion to compel should be implied from the January 14, 2011 order, the court has reviewed plaintiff's motion to compel. The motion consists primarily of defendants' responses to plaintiff's first and second set of interrogatories, throughout which the handwritten notations "non-responsive", "evasive" or "evasive & non-responsive" appear by several responses which consist solely of objections to particular interrogatories. The court has reviewed the interrogatories and responses by these handwritten notations and finds defendants' objections well-taken. No further responses will be required.*fn1

Other handwritten notations, including but not limited to "plaintiff disputes this" and "plaintiff feels this response to be incorrect" also appear throughout the responses. Plaintiff's dispute with a substantive response, without more, is an insufficient basis on which to require a further response.

For the foregoing reasons, plaintiff's discovery motion will be denied.

DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

I. 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 ...


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