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Ricky Ray Keel v. D. Baker

February 10, 2012

RICKY RAY KEEL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
D. BAKER, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that defendants violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment by acting with deliberate to his safety. This matter is before the court on defendants' motion for summary judgment.

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 November 12, 2010, 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. Facts*fn1

At all times relevant to this action , plaintiff was an inmate at Mule Creek State Prison (Mule Creek). (Declaration of Ricky Ray Keel, filed July 12, 2011 (Keel Decl.) at ¶ 2.) Defendants Baker, Childress, and Palomares were all employed as correctional officers at Mule Creek. (Declaration of Baker in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment, filed June 16, 2011 (Baker Decl.) at ¶ 1; Declaration of Childress in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment, filed June 16, 2011 (Childress Decl.) at ¶ 1; Declaration of Palomares in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment, filed June 16, 2011 (Palomares Decl.) at ¶ 1.) Defendant Green was employed as a correctional sergeant at Mule Creek. (Declaration of Green in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment, filed June 16, 2011 (Green Decl.) at ¶ 1.) At all times relevant to this action, all four defendants worked in Mule Creek's Investigative Services Unit (ISU). (Baker Decl. at ¶ 2; Childress Decl. at ¶ 2; Palomares Decl. at ¶ 2; Green Decl. at ¶ 2.) Defendant Green supervised the other three defendants. (Green Decl. at ¶ 2.) The ISU staff are responsible for investigating information concerning possible attacks on inmates. (See Green Decl. at ¶¶ 3-4.)

On August 13, 2009, as defendant correctional officer Palomares was leaving an Institutional Classification Meeting that he had attended, an inmate named Fred Crippen called to defendant Palomares from inmate Crippen's cell in an administrative segregation unit. (Palomares Decl. at ¶ 4.) Defendant Palomares approached inmate Crippen's cell, and inmate Crippen handed him a note. (Id. at ¶ 5.) The note stated that inmate Crippen wanted an interview with ISU staff. (Id.) On August 18, 2009, an officer gave defendant Palomares a copy of a letter and an envelope, obtained during a routing screening of outgoing mail, which appeared to be from inmate Crippen to a couple in Tracy, California. (Id. at ¶ 6 and Ex. 1.) The letter, dated August 15, 2009, read in relevant part:

Dear Mary Lou & John,

As you may know I became fed up with the games and the way people were treating not just ...


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