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Russell Martin v. Sullivan

June 4, 2012

RUSSELL MARTIN,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
SULLIVAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barbara A. McAuliffe United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

(ECF Nos. 73, 79, 80)

I. Background

Plaintiff Russell Martin ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The complaint in this action was filed on June 26, 2006. (ECF No. 1.) The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the Magistrate Judge. (ECF Nos. 3, 39.) On February 24, 2011, Defendant Bryant's motion for summary judgment was granted, and Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims based upon a strip search in the presence of female officers was dismissed. Plaintiff was granted leave to file a second amended complaint. (ECF No. 45.) This action is now proceeding on the second amended complaint, filed August 9, 2011, against Defendant Bryant for violations of the Fourth Amendment. (ECF No. 55.) On February 24, 2012, Defendant Bryant filed a motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 73.) After receiving an extension of time, Plaintiff filed an opposition*fn1 on April 23, 2012, and Defendant filed a reply on April 30, 2012. (ECF Nos. 79, 80.)

For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that Defendant Bryant and the unidentified defendants are entitled to summary adjudication on the grounds of qualified immunity.

II. Summary Judgment Legal Standard

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), 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 judgment as a matter of law. Summary judgment must 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." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). However, the court is to liberally construe the filings and motions of pro se litigants. Thomas v. Ponder, 611 F.3d 1144, 1150 (9th Cir. 2010). The "party seeking summary judgment 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, 477 U.S. at 323 (quoting Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure).

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. 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(e); Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586 n.11.

The parties bear the burden of supporting their motions and oppositions with the papers they wish the Court to consider and/or by specifically referencing any other portions of the record for consideration. Carmen v. San Francisco Unified School Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1031 (9th Cir. 2001). The Court will not undertake to mine the record for triable issues of fact. Simmons v. Navajo County, Arizona, 609 F.3d 1011, 1017 (9th Cir. 2010).

III. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

A. Statement of Undisputed Facts*fn2

1. Plaintiff Russell Martin (E-67269) is a California State prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR").

2. Plaintiff was incarcerated in an administrative segregation unit (Ad-Seg) at California Correctional Institution, Tehachapi (CCI) at all times relevant to his Second Amended Complaint. (Martin Dep. 20:17-21; 21:18-22, Dec. 22, 2011.)

3. Defendant M. Bryant was a supervising Correctional Lieutenant at CCI in November 2005. (Bryant Decl. ¶¶ 2, 7, ECF No. 73-3.)

4. On the morning of November 15, 2005, Plaintiff informed a female correctional officer that he was not getting along with his cellmate and needed to be moved. (Martin Dep. 27:20-25; 28:2-5.)

5. Afterwards, Plaintiff packed up his personal property in anticipation of a cell transfer. (Martin Dep. 28:3-6.)

6. Later in the day, when a different correctional officer released Plaintiff for his designated shower time, Plaintiff told the officer that he and his cellmate were not getting along, and that Plaintiff was not going to return to his cell. (Martin Dep. 28:6-9.)

7. The correctional officer put Plaintiff in a holding cell and called the sergeant on duty. Plaintiff informed the sergeant that he and his cellmate were no longer compatible, and Plaintiff asked to be placed in a different cell. (Martin Dep. 28:11-16; Bryant Decl. ¶ 8.)

8. Plaintiff was assigned a new cell in a different housing unit, but his personal property was not immediately transferred to the new cell. (Martin Dep. 28:17-22; 29:3-7; Bryant Decl. ¶ 9.)

9. Defendant Bryant talked with Plaintiff and told him that due to the cell transfer he would receive his personal property after the Security Housing Unit property officer had a chance to process it. (Bryant Decl. ¶ 9.)

10. Plaintiff was upset that his personal property was not transferred to the new cell. (Martin Dep. 28:23-25.)

11. Plaintiff, who is African-American, coordinated a protest with six-to-seven African-American inmates in his new housing unit. All of the inmates agreed to block their cell windows to get the attention of a senior prison official at CCI. (Martin Dep. 29:8-14; 30:5-9; 42:9-43:19; 46:1-12; Bryant Decl. ¶ 10.)

12. It is a violation of CDCR's and CCI's institutional rules for an inmate to block his or her cell window. (Martin Dep. ...


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