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Jim Ferguson v. C. Hall

October 30, 2012

JIM FERGUSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
C. HALL, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Carolyn K. Delaney United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Plaintiff, a former inmate of the State of California, proceeds pro se with a first amended civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 41 U.S.C. § 1983 (Dkt. No. 16). Defendant has moved for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 79). Plaintiff opposes the motion (Dkt. Nos. 81, 86) and defendant has filed a reply (Dkt. No. 87). Plaintiff's motion to change venue (Dkt. No. 83) and other miscellaneous motions (Dkt. Nos. 88-90) are also before the court.

I. Motion to Change Venue

Plaintiff requests this court to transfer venue in this case to the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Defendant has not responded to the motion. A district court may transfer a civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought "[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, and in the interest of justice." 28 U.S.C. §1404(a). Plaintiff's motion addresses only his own convenience to the extent that he recently moved to Los Angeles. This case was filed in 2006 and a motion for summary judgment which could be dispositive as to all of plaintiff's claims is pending. Under these circumstances, a change in venue would not serve the interests of justice and the motion will be denied.

II. Motion for Summary Judgment

Plaintiff proceeds on his first amended complaint against defendant Hall, the sole defendant. At all times relevant to this action, plaintiff was an inmate at California Correctional Center-Susanville ("CCC") and defendant was employed at CCC as a Correctional Officer. Plaintiff's first amended complaint states claims that (1) defendant retaliated against him in violation of the First Amendment; and (2) defendant subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Defendant asserts summary judgment on plaintiff's First Amendment claim is warranted because plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit, as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Defendant asserts summary judgment on plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim is proper because defendant's conduct as alleged by plaintiff, even if true, did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

Summary judgment is appropriate when there exists "no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to 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. 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 exists. 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 or admissible discovery material, in support of its contention that the dispute exists. SeeFed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586 n.11. The opposing party must demonstrate (1) that the fact in contention is material, i.e., is 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 (2) that the dispute is genuine, i.e., that 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 a 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).

The court "is not required to comb through the record to find some reason to deny a motion for summary judgment." Carmen v. San Francisco Unified Sch. Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1029 (9th Cir. 2001). Instead the "party opposing summary judgment must direct the Court's attention to specific triable facts." S.Cal. Gas Co. v. City of Santa Ana, 336 F.3d 885, 889 (9th Cir. 2003). Statements in a brief, unsupported by the record, cannot be used to create an issue of fact. Barnes v. Independent Auto Dealers, 64 F.3d 1389, 1396 n.3 (9th Cir. 1995).

On March 24, 2008, the court advised plaintiff of the requirements for opposing a motion pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. On July 13, 2012, pursuant to the Ninth Circuit's decision in Woods v. Carey, 684 F.3d 934 (9th Cir. 2012), the court again advised plaintiff of the requirements for opposing a motion pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and granted him 21 additional days to file additional evidentiary materials regarding defendant's motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 82.) See Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc), cert. denied, 527 U.S. 1035 (1999);

Klingele v. Eikenberry, 849 F.2d 409 (9th Cir. 1988).

The court notes that plaintiff's first amended complaint is verified under penalty of perjury. It therefore has the effect of an affidavit to oppose summary judgment "to the extent it is 'based on personal knowledge' and 'sets forth specific facts admissible in ...


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