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Dennis Gerald Claiborne v. Blauser

April 4, 2013



Plaintiff is a prisoner without counsel suing for alleged civil rights violations. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court is defendants' September 21, 2012 motion for summary judgment. Dckt. No. 59. For the reasons explained below, it is recommended that the motion be denied.

I. The Complaint

This action proceeds on the verified complaint filed September 10, 2010. Dckt. No. 1.

Plaintiff alleges as follows: Plaintiff is mobility impaired due to a total knee replacement and requires a cane to ambulate. Dckt. No. 1 at 3.*fn1 On May 3, 2010, defendant Blauser informed plaintiff she had received a call informing her that plaintiff had been "hanging out."

Id. at 4. Plaintiff denied he had been hanging out. Id. Defendant Blauser then demanded that plaintiff be confined to his cell and denied yard or day-room privileges. Id. In response, plaintiff asked defendant Blauser if he could speak with the yard sergeant. Id. Defendant Blauser repeated her order that plaintiff go to his cell. Id. Plaintiff again requested to see the yard sergeant. Id. Defendant Blauser then took plaintiff's cane and ordered plaintiff to "cuff up" without waist chains. Id. Plaintiff objected when defendant Blauser took his cane and handcuffed him behind his back, but defendant Blauser responded that it was California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR") procedure. Id.

Plaintiff further alleges that after being handcuffed, defendants Blauser and Martin "march[ed]/drag[ged]" plaintiff across the yard, "which is riddled with potholes and grass patches." Id. at 5. Plaintiff tried to alert defendants to his difficulty walking across the yard without his cane, but they continued to jerk plaintiff's arm and pull him across the yard. Id. As a result, plaintiff stumbled. Id. Defendant Blauser then insisted that plaintiff was trying to get away from her and could not be convinced that plaintiff needed his cane or that they were dragging him too fast. Id. During the escort, plaintiff stumbled over a three to five inch lift on the ground. Id. When defendant Blauser felt the weight of plaintiff coming down, she yelled "He's resisting," and took plaintiff to the ground. Id. Defendant Blauser then kneed him in the ribs, on his replacement knee, and on his head. Id. She also punched him in the face three to five times, until relief officers arrived. Id. at 6.

As a result of defendants' actions, plaintiff alleges that he suffered abrasions to his face and knee, his knee became "wobbly," his ribs were "re-injured," and he began to suffer headaches. Id. at 6, 10. Plaintiff's injuries could have been prevented by application of waist restraints, use of his cane, and by taking appropriate care in walking plaintiff on level terrain. Id. at 7.

Plaintiff alleges that defendants were or should have been aware of plaintiff's medical condition. Id. at 7. Further, plaintiff generally alleges that defendants "knew that constitutional violations would take place and/or was taking place [sic] and failed to take any actions to correct the constitutional violations." Id. at 12.

In the court's screening order, the court found that "plaintiff's allegations of being dragged while handcuffed behind his back, and subsequently forced to the ground and beaten, state[d] colorable Eighth Amendment excessive force and deliberate indifference to medical needs claims against defendants Blauser and Martin." Dckt. No. 22 at 7-8.

II. Defendants' Evidentiary Objections

Defendants have submitted fourteen objections to plaintiff's evidence submitted in support of his opposition to the summary judgment motion. Defendants' Objection number 5 addresses plaintiff's statement in his response to defendants' Undisputed Fact No. 9. Plaintiff states: "[I]t was common knowledge among (HDSP) African-American inmate population of Yard A, that Officer McBride was known to use racial slurs and comments towards Black inmates, of which the Plaintiff is one." This statement lacks foundation and, at best, is marginally relevant, and constitutes improper and prejudicial character evidence.Fed. R. Evid. 403, 404.

Defendants' remaining evidentiary objections are overruled.

III. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate when there is "no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). Summary judgment avoids unnecessary trials in cases in which the parties do not dispute the facts relevant to the determination of the issues in the case, or in which there is insufficient evidence for a jury to determine those facts in favor of the non-movant. Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 600 (1998); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-50 (1986); Nw. Motorcycle Ass'n v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 18 F.3d 1468, ...

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