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Grant S. Parkison v. Butte County Sheriff's Dept.

March 13, 2013

GRANT S. PARKISON, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
BUTTE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT., ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Plaintiff is state prisoner and former Butte County Jail inmate proceeding through counsel with a civil rights action seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter is before the court on a motion for summary judgment brought on behalf of defendants Butte County Sheriff's Department, Correctional Officer Marten, and Captain Jones pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Counsel for plaintiff has filed an opposition to the motion, and counsel for defendants has filed a reply. Counsel for plaintiff has also filed a motion to supplement plaintiff's opposition, which the court will also address below.

The court heard the oral arguments of counsel in this case on May 25, 2012, and took the matter under submission at that time. For the reasons stated herein and already on the record, the court issues the following orders and findings and recommendations.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is proceeding on his original complaint against defendants Butte County Sheriff's Department, Correctional Officer Marten, and Captain Jones (hereinafter the "county defendants").*fn1 In relevant part, plaintiff alleges in his complaint as follows. On June 7, 2008, plaintiff was incarcerated at the Butte County Jail ("BCJ"). During a lock-down incident, he was face down on the floor when defendant Correctional Officer Marten shot him in the back of the head at point blank range with a gun loaded with pepper balls. (Compl. at 3.)

Prior to his arrest and incarceration at BCJ, plaintiff underwent two consecutive surgical procedures in 2006 to control epileptic seizures. Doctors removed a portion of plaintiff's brain matter that contained a tumor. As a result of the surgery, plaintiff is half blind and suffers from severe short-term memory loss, which affects his ability to retain information and, thus, follow directions. According to the complaint, plaintiff needs semi-annual MRI's to monitor his post-surgical status, his anti-seizure medication Tegretol, and blood tests to monitor his intake and levels of Tegretol. Plaintiff alleges that he did not receive any such monitoring for the sixteen months he was incarcerated at BCJ. (Compl. at 3 & 6.)

Plaintiff claims that defendant Marten violated plaintiff's rights under the Eighth Amendment and various state laws because he used excessive force against plaintiff during the lock-down incident. In addition, plaintiff claims that the county defendants failed to provide him with adequate medical care. Plaintiff also claims that the Butte County Sheriff's Department and defendant Captain Jones maintained policies at BCJ that allowed defendant Marten and other staff to subject inmates to cruel and unusual punishment. Finally, plaintiff claims that the county defendants violated his rights under a contract between Butte County and California Forensic Medical Group and as well as his ri ghts under a 1995 consent decree. Both the contract and the consent decree referred to govern the provision of medical care to inmates at BCJ. In terms of relief, plaintiff requests monetary damages. (Compl. at 4-10.)

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).

OTHER APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS

I. Civil Rights Act Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983

The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides as follows: Every person who, under color of [state law] . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution . . . shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.

42 U.S.C. § 1983. The statute requires that there be an actual connection or link between the actions of the defendants and the deprivation alleged to have been suffered by plaintiff. See Monell v. Department of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978); Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976). "A person 'subjects' another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of § 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made." Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978).

Moreover, supervisory personnel are generally not liable under § 1983 for the actions of their employees under a theory of respondeat superior and, therefore, when a named defendant holds a supervisorial position, the causal link between him and the claimed constitutional violation must be specifically alleged. See Fayle v. Stapley, 607 F.2d 858, 862 (9th Cir. 1979); Mosher v. Saalfeld, 589 F.2d 438, 441 (9th Cir. 1978). Vague and conclusory allegations concerning the involvement of official personnel in civil rights violations are not sufficient. See Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).

II. The Fourteenth Amendment and Excessive Use of Force "The Due Process [C]lause protects pretrial detainees from the use of excessive force that amounts to punishment." See Gibson v. County of Washoe, 290 F.3d 1175, 1197 (9th Cir. 2002). In analyzing Fourteenth Amendment claims for excessive force, the Ninth Circuit has adopted the Fourth Amendment objective reasonableness standard. See id.; see also Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 395 (1989). Under this standard, "'[t]he force which [i]s applied must be balanced against the need for that force: it is the need for force which is at the heart of the Graham factors.'" Liston v. County of Riverside, 120 F.3d 965, 976 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Alexander v. City and County of San Francisco, 29 F.3d 1355, 1367 (9th Cir. 1994)). See also Bryan v. MacPherson, 630 F.3d 805, 823 (9th Cir. 2010).

In analyzing the nature and quality of the intrusion on an individual's Fourth Amendment interests, the court must consider both the type and the amount of force used. The court must also "examine the totality of the circumstances and consider 'whatever specific factors may be appropriate in a particular case, whether or not listed in Graham.'" Bryan, 630 F.3d at 824 & 826. For example, the court may appropriately consider whether a warning was given before force was used. See Deorle v. Rutherford, 272 F.3d 1272, 1285 (9th Cir. 2001) ("Less than deadly force that may lead to serious injury may be used only when a strong governmental interest warrants its use, and in such circumstances should be preceded by a warning, when feasible."). "Force is excessive when it is greater than is reasonable under the circumstances." Santos v. Gates, 287 F.3d 846, 854 (9th Cir. 2002) (citing Graham, 490 U.S. 386).

III. The Fourteenth Amendment and Inadequate Medical Care "[T]he 'deliberate indifference' standard applies to claims that correction facility officials failed to address the medical needs of pretrial detainees." Clouthier v. County of Contra Costa, 591 F.3d 1232, 1242 (9th Cir. 2010). See also Simmons v. Navajo County, 609 F.3d 1011, 1017 (9th Cir. 2010) ("Although the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause, rather than the Eighth Amendment's protection against cruel and unusual punishment, applies to pretrial detainees, we apply the same standards in both cases.") (internal citations omitted).

Deliberate indifference is "a state of mind more blameworthy than negligence" and "requires 'more than ordinary lack of due care for the prisoner's interests or safety.'"

Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835. Under the deliberate indifference standard, a person may be found liable for denying adequate medical care if he "knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health and safety." Id. at 837. See also Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Lolli v. County of Orange, 351 F.3d 410, 418-19 (9th Cir. 2003); Doty v. County of Lassen, 37 F.3d 540, 546 (9th Cir. 1994). A deliberate indifference claim predicated upon the failure to provide medical treatment has two elements:

First, the plaintiff must show a "serious medical need" by demonstrating that "failure to treat a prisoner's condition could result in further significant injury or the 'unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.'" Second, the plaintiff must show the defendant's response to the need was deliberately indifferent.

Jett v. Penner, 439 F.3d 1091, 1096 (9th Cir. 2006). See also McGuckin v. Smith, 974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1991) (an Eighth Amendment medical claim has two elements: "the seriousness of the prisoner's medical need and the nature of the defendant's response to that need."), overruled on other grounds by WMX Techs., Inc. v. Miller, 104 F.3d 1133 (9th Cir. 1997) (en banc).

IV. State Law

A. Battery

Under California law, battery is defined as the "willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another." Cal. Penal Code § 242. To succeed on a civil claim for battery, plaintiff must demonstrate that the "(1) defendant intentionally performed an act that resulted in a harmful or offensive contact with the plaintiff's person; (2) plaintiff did not consent to the contact; and (3) the harmful or offensive contact caused injury, damage, loss or harm to plaintiff." Brown v. Ransweiler, 171 Cal. App. 4th 516, 526-27 (2009). To prevail on a battery claim against a police officer, plaintiff must show that the defendant officer used excessive force. Edson v. City of Anaheim, 63 Cal. App. 4th 1269, 1273 (1998). A court should analyze whether an officer used excessive force under the Fourth Amendment reasonableness standard. Munoz v. City of Union City, 120 Cal. App. 4th 1077, 1102 (2004).

B. The Bane Civil Rights Act

California's Bane Civil Rights Act provides:

(a) If a person or persons, whether or not acting under color of law, interferes by threat, intimidation, or coercion, or attempts to interfere by threats, intimidation, or coercion, with the exercise or enjoyment by any individual or individuals of rights secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or of the rights secured by the Constitution or laws of this state, the Attorney General, or any district attorney or city attorney may bring a civil action for injunctive and other appropriate equitable relief in the name of the people of the State of California, in order to protect the peaceable exercise or enjoyment of the right or rights secured . . . .

(b) Any individual whose exercise or enjoyment of rights secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or of rights secured by the Constitution or laws of this state, has been interfered with, or attempted to be interfered with, as described in subdivision (a), may institute and prosecute in his or her own name and on his or her own behalf a civil action for damages, including, but not limited to, damages under Section 52, injunctive relief, ...


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