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Reeda v. Hom

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 14, 2014

PHAYNES REEDA, Plaintiff,
v.
T. L. HOM, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

CAROLYN K. DELANEY, Magistrate Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, has filed this civil rights action seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action proceeds on the complaint filed November 9, 2012, in which plaintiff alleges that defendants Camp, Hom, and Vielbig failed to protect him from harm in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (ECF No. 1 ("Compl.")) Pending before the court is defendants' February 9, 2014 motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 27), which has been briefed by the parties (ECF Nos. 38, 39). The parties have consented to this court's jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Local Rule 302. (ECF Nos. 4, 17.) For the reasons discussed below, the undersigned will grant defendants' motion.

II. Summary Judgment Standards Under Rule 56

Summary judgment is appropriate when it is demonstrated that 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). A party asserting that a fact cannot be disputed must support the assertion by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials..." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A).

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 Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). "[A] complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Id.

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 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).

III. Analysis

A. Facts

In determining whether summary judgment is appropriate, the court considers the following record facts:

The Incident

On September 7, 2010, plaintiff, a Black inmate, was incarcerated at California State Prison-Sacramento ("CSP-Sac."). (DUF 1; Reeda Depo, 35:5-7.) He was housed on Facility C, Building 5, Section C, cell 225.[1] (Id.) He worked as a Tier Tender in Building 5. (DUF 2.)

Facility C was a general population yard. (DUF 4.) Prior to September 7, 2010, Facility C had been on lockdown or modified programming for approximately two months due to ongoing fighting between Black and Northern Hispanic inmates. During this period, inmates were confined to their cells. (Reeda Dep., 30:13-31:9.) On September 7, 2010, Facility C recently had been returned to "normal" programming.[2] On normal program, there were set times for the release of inmates for school, work, and yard. (DUF 5.) Also, individual inmates could be released for specific approved reasons, such as medical appointments. (Id.)

That day, defendant Hom was the control booth officer and defendants Camp and Vielbig were floor officers for Building 5. (DUF 3.) Hom's responsibilities included electronically opening and closing the building, section, and cell doors from the control booth. (Hom Decl. ¶ 3.) Camp's and Vielbig's responsibilities included conducting pat-down searches of inmates as they were released for or returned from educational, vocational, or recreational programs. (Camp Decl. ¶ 2; Vielbig Decl. at ¶ 2.)

In his verified complaint[3], plaintiff alleges as follows:

[On September 7, 2010, at approximately 0600 hours, plaintiff] was released for work as a 2nd Watch C Facility 5 Block Porter.
Defendant Hom electronically released plaintiff from his quarters (cell). Plaintiff proceeded to the dining hall door to retrieve coffee and lunches for distribution to inmates in their cells in C5. Plaintiff then assisted defendants Vielbig and Camp in the distribution of the morning (breakfast) meal to inmates in unit C5. Upon completion of this process, the plaintiff sat down at a table in one of the day room sections to eat his breakfast tray meal.
[After breakfast], he then proceeded to collect the empty trays and trash from inmates in their cells, in each section. Once plaintiff finished this task, defendant Hom directed plaintiff to take the trash outside, then Hom electronically opened the C5 main entrance and exit door for the plaintiff. Plaintiff then began to take outside the unit, several bags of trash.
As plaintiff was taking out the trash, he noticed several inmates walking out of the housing unit (C5) in a rushed fashion. There were no staff (defendants Vielbig nor Camp) standing outside the unit, nor were they in the rotunda to conduct the required pat search and ...

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