United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; REFERRING CASE TO PRO SE PRISONER SETTLEMENT PROGRAM; INSTRUCTIONS TO THE CLERK
LUCY H. KOH, District Judge.
Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed an amended complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, arguing that Correctional Officers Baptista, Mart, and Garza used excessive force upon him, and Baptista was deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's serious medical needs. Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff has filed an opposition, and defendants have filed a reply. Having carefully considered the papers submitted, the court DENIES defendants' motion for summary judgment.
Plaintiff alleges that: (1) Baptista, Garza, and Mart used excessive force against him, and (2) Baptista was deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's serious medical needs. In response, defendants argue that they are entitled to summary judgment and qualified immunity on the excessive force claim.
The following facts are taken in the light most favorable to plaintiff.
On July 9, 2012, plaintiff was housed at Pelican Bay State Prison's Psychiatric Services Unit. Plaintiff was suicidal and told defendants Baptista and Garza of his feelings. (Am. Compl. at 5.) Baptista and Garza ordered plaintiff to turn around for handcuffing. ( Id. ) Plaintiff was handcuffed and ordered to kneel down so that leg shackles could be placed upon him. ( Id. ) After the shackles were in place, Baptista then pushed plaintiff's head down onto the concrete floor and repeatedly banged plaintiff's head onto the ground. ( Id. ) Garza then held plaintiff as Baptista lifted plaintiff's head and turned it toward Mart, who began punching plaintiff several times in plaintiff's left eye. ( Id. ) After the beating, plaintiff was placed on a gurney and taken to Sutter Coast Hospital outside of the prison. ( Id. ) Medical staff at Sutter Coast Hospital determined that plaintiff suffered head and facial trauma. (Opp. at 7.)
In order to cover up the wounds on plaintiff's face, Baptista forced plaintiff to wear a dark netted elastic mask over plaintiff's face. (Am. Compl. at 6.) This mask is referred to as a "spit mask." ( Id. ) It is normally used as a precaution for inmates who have a history of spitting on people. ( Id. ) Plaintiff did not have a history of spitting on people, and had never had to wear a spit mask before. ( Id. ) After placing the spit mask on plaintiff, prison staff told doctors at Sutter Coast Hospital that the spit mask was not allowed to be removed to conduct a thorough examination on plaintiff's injuries because plaintiff was a spitter. ( Id. ) Doctors then had to work around the spit mask to attempt to conduct a medical examination. ( Id. ) As a result of the beating, plaintiff suffered vision impairment, and head injuries such as a hematoma above his eye and periorbital swelling around his eye. ( Id. at 4.)
I. Standard of Review
Summary judgment is proper where the pleadings, discovery and affidavits demonstrate that there is "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). Material facts are those which may affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute as to a material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.
The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of identifying those portions of the pleadings, discovery and affidavits which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Cattrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Where the moving party will have the burden of proof on an issue at trial, it must affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party. But on an issue for which the opposing party will have the burden of proof at trial, as is the case here, the moving party need only point out "that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Id. at 325.
Once the moving party meets its initial burden, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings, and by its own affidavits or discovery, "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). The court is only concerned with disputes over material facts, and "factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted." Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 248. It is not the task of the court to scour the record in search of a genuine issue of triable fact. Keenan v. Allen, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996). The nonmoving party has the burden of identifying, with reasonable particularity, the evidence that precludes summary judgment. Id. If the nonmoving party fails to make this showing, "the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323.
At the summary judgment stage, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party: if evidence produced by the moving party conflicts with evidence produced by the nonmoving party, the judge must assume the truth of the evidence set forth by the nonmoving party with respect ...