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Morceli v. Meyers

United States District Court, E.D. California

October 1, 2014

ABDELKADER MORCELI, Plaintiff,
v.
W. MEYERS, et al., Defendants.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF No. 44)

BARBARA A. McAULIFFE, District Judge.

I. Background

Plaintiff Abdelkader Morceli ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. This action proceeds on Plaintiff's complaint against Defendant Myers (erroneously sued as Meyers) for violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and Equal Protection in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. (ECF No. 25.)

On November 4, 2013, Defendant Myers filed a motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 44.) Following extensions of time, Plaintiff opposed the motion on September 8, 2014. (ECF No. 61.) Defendant Myers replied on September 19, 2014. (ECF Nos. 62-64.) The motion is deemed submitted. Local Rule 230(1).

II. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

A. Legal Standard for Summary Judgment

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) summary judgment is appropriate when the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Summary judgment must 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." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). However, the court is to liberally construe the filings and motions of pro se litigants. Thomas v. Ponder , 611 F.3d 1144, 1150 (9th Cir. 2010). The "party seeking summary judgment 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 , 477 U.S. at 323 (internal quotations and citations omitted).

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. 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 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. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Matsushita , 475 U.S. at 586 n.11.

The parties bear the burden of supporting their motions and oppositions with the papers they wish the Court to consider and/or by specifically referencing any other portions of the record for consideration. Carmen v. San Francisco Unified School Dist. , 237 F.3d 1026, 1031 (9th Cir. 2001). The Court will not undertake to scour the record for triable issues of fact. Simmons v. Navajo County, Arizona , 609 F.3d 1011, 1017 (9th Cir. 2010).

In arriving at this order, the Court carefully reviewed and considered all arguments, points and authorities, declarations, exhibits, statements of undisputed facts and responses thereto, if any, objections, and other papers filed by the parties. Omission of reference to an argument, document, paper, or objection is not to be construed to the effect that this Court did not consider the argument, document, paper, or objection. This Court thoroughly reviewed and considered the evidence it deemed admissible, material, and appropriate.

B. Summary of Relevant Allegations in Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint

On July 26, 2010, Plaintiff was informed by the second watch dining staff that, per Defendant Myers and others, he could not wear a kufi, even though a memo had previously been issued by Warden James Yates approving kufis to be worn within the institution. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Myers ordered correctional officers to refuse to allow Muslim inmates to wear kufis in the dining hall and to refuse to allow inmates to purchase and wear black kufis anywhere within Pleasant Valley State Prison ("PVSP"), while Jewish inmates are allowed to wear yarmulkes. (ECF No. 1.)

C. Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ("DUF")

1. At the time relevant to this action, Defendant Myers, who is now retired, was employed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) as a correctional lieutenant and was assigned as the acting ...


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