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Robert E. Samuels v. Woods

February 20, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Craig M. Kellison United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff, a prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court is defendants' motion for summary judgment (Doc. 41).

A. Plaintiff's Allegations


This action proceeds on the original complaint filed on October 4, 2010. Plaintiff names the following as defendants: Woods, Maseret, Baker, Hernandez, Doud (erroneously sued a "Jeannie"), Silva, and Walker. Plaintiff claims that, on August 20, 2009, he was issued a "Permanent Lower Bunk Chrono" following a low back injury. Following this, plaintiff informed defendant Hernandez of his need for a lower bunk and showed him the chrono. He also states that he sent lower bunk requests to defendants Baker, Woods, and Maseret who never responded. Plaintiff then filed an inmate grievance on September 17, 2009. Plaintiff states that his grievance was never addressed.

According to plaintiff, on November 1, 2009, he "jumped from the top bunk to the table/stool" and "something 'popped'" in his knee causing severe pain. Plaintiff states that defendant Jeanie, a prison nurse, looked at his knee the next morning and said she would refer plaintiff to the medical clinic once the doctor arrived. Plaintiff states that he was never sent to the clinic. Later that day during exercise time, plaintiff "limped" to the clinic but was turned away because he did not have an appointment. Plaintiff returned to his cell and put in a request for a medical appointment. Plaintiff states that on November 4, 2009, he again jumped from the top bunk and he felt his right knee buckle. Plaintiff's cellmate yelled "man down" at which point defendant Hernandez arrived with a wheelchair and assisted plaintiff to the medical clinic. At the clinic, a nurse applied ice and a bandage and provided medication. Plaintiff states that the nurse told him the doctor would be called but that no doctor ever arrived.

Plaintiff states that he filed another grievance on December 12, 2009, attaching a copy of the low bunk chrono. According to plaintiff, defendant Silva responded to this grievance. Plaintiff claims that Silva denied the grievance because plaintiff had admitted to injuring himself by jumping from the top bunk. Plaintiff faults Silva for never citing the low bunk chrono in the grievance decision.

Plaintiff next claims that in January 2010 he was approached by Hernandez about his grievance. Plaintiff was asked to "sign off" on the grievance "in exchange for a bottom bunk." Plaintiff states that he refused to bargain for something (the low bunk) that had been prescribed. According to plaintiff, Hernandez "would later tell Sgt. Baker plaintiff was assigned to the bottom bunk . . . but slept on the top." Plaintiff states that this is false. Later, as part of the grievance process, plaintiff was interviewed by Baker who told plaintiff he did not recall being informed earlier by plaintiff that plaintiff had a lower bunk chrono. Plaintiff states that defendant Walker responded to his grievance by telling plaintiff that the table attached to the bunk should be used as a step and that inmates should not jump from the top bunk. According to plaintiff, Walker knew that the tables were not attached to the bunks.

Plaintiff states that, "[a]fter months of pain and suffering. . . ," he was finally provided a bottom bunk on March 1, 2010. Plaintiff claims that the conduct alleged above violated his rights to adequate medical care (Claim 1) and a safe living environment (Claim 2).

B. The Parties' Evidence

According to defendants, the following facts are undisputed:

1. At all relevant times, plaintiff was an inmate incarcerated at California State Prison -- Sacramento ("CSP-SAC").

2. At all relevant times, defendant Doud was working as a licensed vocational nurse; defendant Silva was a correctional officer and Facility B appeals officer; defendant Hernandez was a correctional officer; defendant Masuret was a correctional counselor and supervisor; defendant Woods was a correctional counselor; defendant Baker was a correctional sergeant; and defendant Walker was the prison warden.

3. Plaintiff injured his back and right leg in October 2007 and received a "Comprehensive Accommodation Chrono (CDC 7410)" on August 20, 2009, affording him permanent lower bunk housing.

4. On November 1, 2009, plaintiff injured his right knee while jumping from the upper bunk to the stool of an adjacent desk attempting to reach the floor.

5. On November 4, 2009, plaintiff injured his right knee again, as well as his back, when he fell performing the same maneuver.

6. Defendant Hernandez responded to plaintiff's November 4, 2009, fall and rendered aid.

7. Plaintiff's claim against defendant Silva is based entirely on Silva having responded to plaintiff's inmate grievance relating to the November 4, 2009, fall.

8. Plaintiff's claim against defendant Walker is based entirely on his belief that, as prison warden, Walker permitted plaintiff to live in an unsafe environment (i.e., on the top bunk or a ladderless bunk).

9. Plaintiff's claim against defendants Woods and Masuret is based entirely on plaintiff's assertion that they failed to provide him a lower bunk after he submitted a written requested for one; plaintiff admits that he did not attach a copy of the CDC 7410 to his request; neither defendant Woods nor defendant Masuret ever received a copy of the CDC 7410 from plaintiff or anyone.

10. Defendant Baker, who reviewed plaintiff's inmate grievance at the first level, had no recollection of being informed by plaintiff, prior to his review of plaintiff's grievance, that he had a CDC 7410 chrono; as soon as defendant Baker learned of the chrono, he ...

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