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Howard v. Wang

United States District Court, E.D. California

October 29, 2014

TIMOTHY HOWARD, Plaintiff,
v.
J. WANG, et al., Defendants.

ORDER ADOPTING FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS AND GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

ANTHONY W. ISHII, Senior District Judge.

Plaintiff Timothy Howard ("Plaintiff") is a prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The action is proceeding on Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against Defendants J. Wang and Edgar Clark.

Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on January 30, 2014. The matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302.

On July 24, 2014, the Court issued Findings and Recommendations that Defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted in part and denied in part. Specifically, the Court found that Defendant Wang is entitled to summary judgment on all claims, and that Defendant Clark is entitled to summary judgment on all claims except for Plaintiff's claim that he was deliberately indifferent in completing the Chrono without providing Plaintiff with wheelchair use outside of his cell. The Findings and Recommendations contained notice that any objections were to be filed within thirty (30) days. Plaintiff requested an extension of time and filed timely objections on September 29, 2014.[1] Defendants did not file a reply.

In accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), this Court has conducted a de novo review of this case. Having carefully reviewed the entire file, including Plaintiff's objections, the Court finds that the Findings and Recommendations are supported by the record and by proper analysis.

Plaintiff first argues that Defendant Wang is not entitled to summary judgment because Defendant Wang did not dispute certain facts in Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant Wang told him that he knew that could not walk because he was paralyzed, but custody wanted his appliances taken. Plaintiff suggests that this shows that Defendant Wang's reclassification from DPW to DPO status was deliberately indifferent.[2] However, as the Magistrate Judge noted, Defendant Wang's notes from that examination also state that he was informed that Plaintiff was standing up when he attacked a correctional officer. Plaintiff has failed to raise a dispute of material fact concerning Defendants' reliance on the information that was given to them, and this reliance negates a finding of deliberate indifference. Defendant Wang's alleged statement does not change this result.

Plaintiff also points to an apparent inconsistency in a footnote overruling his attempt to dispute a fact, where the Magistrate Judge stated that Defendant Wang noted that Plaintiff was DPO status, rather than DPW status. ECF No. 77, at 10. Plaintiff is correct that Defendant Wang noted that Plaintiff was DPW status, but the inconsistency is irrelevant. The Magistrate Judge's ruling remains valid based on the additional factors cited, and the Magistrate Judge correctly used the terms throughout the decision when discussing the motion's merits.

Next, Plaintiff argues that staff went in search of officers to override Defendant Wang's orders (which were to release him with a wheelchair), and that Defendant Clark arrived "hostile and unprofessional..." ECF No. 80, at 12. He contends that this demonstrates that the reclassification from DPW to DPO was intentional, rather than a mistake. It was undisputed, however, that the reclassification was intentional, and based on information that Defendants were given about Plaintiff's attack on staff. Plaintiff's speculation does not create a disputed fact.

The alleged mistake occurred when Defendants completed a Chrono that did not include wheelchair use outside of Plaintiff's cell. The Magistrate Judge properly analyzed whether a genuine dispute of material fact existed as to whether this was done with deliberate indifference. Both Defendants conceded that the reclassification should have included wheelchair use outside of Plaintiff's cell, yet only Defendant Clark's statement that Plaintiff could crawl on his belly created a genuine dispute as to whether the omission was a mistake.

Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. The Findings and Recommendations, filed July 24, 2014 are ADOPTED in full;
2. Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Document 56) is GRANTED as to Defendant Wang on all claims and Defendant Clark on all claims except for Plaintiff's claim that Defendant Clark was deliberately indifferent in completing the Chrono without providing Plaintiff with wheelchair use outside of his cell; and
3. This action SHALL therefore proceed against Defendant Clark on Plaintiff's claim that Defendant Clark was deliberately indifferent in completing the Chrono without providing Plaintiff with wheelchair use outside of his cell.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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