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Jawwaad Hasan v. B. Johnson

February 21, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge




Jawwaad Hasan ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action proceeds on Plaintiff's original Complaint filed on March 17, 2008, against defendant Correctional Officer B. Johnson ("Defendant") for use of excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment.*fn1 (Doc. 1.)

The parties to this action have consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction pursuant to U.S.C. § 636(c), and on March 19, 2010, this case was reassigned to the undersigned for all further proceedings in this case, including trial and entry of final judgment. (Docs. 7, 14, 26.)

On April 21, 2011, the Court issued a Discovery/Scheduling Order establishing a deadline of December 21, 2011, for the parties to complete discovery, including motions to compel. (Doc. 27.) On July 6, 2011, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel and for sanctions. (Doc. 30.) On July 28, 2011, Defendant filed an opposition. (Doc. 31.) Plaintiff did not file a reply. Plaintiff's motion to compel and for sanctions is now before the Court.


The events at issue in Plaintiff's Complaint allegedly occurred at the California State Prison-Solano ("CSP-Solano") in Vacaville, California, when Plaintiff was incarcerated there. Defendant Johnson was a correctional officer employed at CSP-Solano at the time of the events at issue.

Plaintiff alleges as follows in the Complaint. On March 22, 2006, Plaintiff was escorted to Administrative Segregation. Plaintiff was being placed in Administrative Segregation pending a disciplinary charge against him for threatening staff. (Compl., ¶12.) Plaintiff, in handcuffs, was escorted by Defendant Johnson and C/O Gonzalez. Id. Defendant Johnson, holding Plaintiff by the handcuffs, "without just cause, justification, provocation or good cause or reason, violently jerked the handcuffs, twisted them by the left side of the handcuffs, and thrusted plaintiffs' handcuffs upward thereby forcing plaintiff to walk on his toes." (Compl., ¶13.) Upon reaching the rotunda area, Defendant Johnson "grabbed plaintiff and violently propelled him across the rotunda slamming plaintiff into another wall, and continued to slam plaintiff into walls thereon opposite sides of the rotunda back and forth for several minutes. Plaintiff's head was slammed into the walls several times during this beating episode carried out by defendant Johnson." (Compl., ¶14.) Plaintiff seeks monetary damages as relief.

Plaintiff brings a claim against Defendant Johnson for use of excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. "What is necessary to show sufficient harm for purposes of the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause [of the Eighth Amendment] depends upon the claim at issue . . . ." Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 8 (1992). "The objective component of an Eighth Amendment claim is . . . contextual and responsive to contemporary standards of decency." Id. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The malicious and sadistic use of force to cause harm always violates contemporary standards of decency, regardless of whether or not significant injury is evident. Id. at 9; see also Oliver v. Keller, 289 F.3d 623, 628 (9th Cir. 2002) (Eighth Amendment excessive force standard examines de minimis uses of force, not de minimis injuries)). However, not "every malevolent touch by a prison guard gives rise to a federal cause of action." Id. at 9. "The Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments necessarily excludes from constitutional recognition de minimis uses of physical force, provided that the use of force is not of a sort 'repugnant to the conscience of mankind." Id. at 9-10 (internal quotations marks and citations omitted).

"[W]henever prison officials stand accused of using excessive physical force in violation of the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause, the core judicial inquiry is . . . whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm." Id. at 7. "In determining whether the use of force was wanton and unnecessary, it may also be proper to evaluate the need for application of force, the relationship between that need and the amount of force used, the threat reasonably perceived by the responsible officials, and any efforts made to temper the severity of a forceful response." Id. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). "The absence of serious injury is . . . relevant to the Eighth Amendment inquiry, but does not end it." Id.


Pursuant to Rule 37(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party propounding discovery may seek an order compelling disclosure when an opposing party has failed to respond or has provided evasive or incomplete responses. Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(2)(3). The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating "actual and substantial prejudice" from the denial of discovery. See Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 751 (9th Cir. 2002) (citations omitted.). Pursuant to Rule 33, an interrogatory may relate to any matter that may be inquired into under Rule 26(b). Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(a)(2). Under Rule 26(b), "[U]nless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense - including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any documents or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons who know of any discoverable matter. For good cause, the court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action. Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1).

Pursuant to Rule 33(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, "[u]nless otherwise stipulated or ordered by the court, a party may serve on any other party no more than 25 written interrogatories, including all discrete subparts. Leave to serve additional interrogatories may be granted to the extent consistent with Rule 26(b)(2)." Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(a). Rule 26(b)(2) provides that "[b]y order, the court ...

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