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Hollins v. Munks

United States District Court, N.D. California, Oakland Division

February 5, 2015

MICHAEL HOLLINS, Plaintiff,
v.
GREG MUNKS, et. al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON, District Judge.

This is a civil rights case brought pro se by a former detainee at Maguire Correctional Facility. Plaintiff presents claims of excessive force by several correctional officers. The defendants, Veley, Ferrario, and Alonso, filed a motion for summary judgment on October 8, 2014. Plaintiff has not filed an opposition or otherwise communicated with the court despite defendants filing an additional notice of plaintiff's non opposition on November 25, 2014.[1] The court will still look to the merits of the motion and for the reasons set forth below, the motion for summary judgment is granted.

DISCUSSION

Complaint

In the operative second amended complaint, plaintiff alleges that several correctional officers entered his cell and injured him while attempting to subdue him for booking regarding a disciplinary violation from an incident that occurred the day before. Plaintiff alleges that defendants never told him why they were there or asked him to submit to restraints. Sec. Am. Compl. at 8. He states that defendant correctional officer Veley was holding plaintiff's right foot and bent three of plaintiff's toes so far back that they were severed at the base and bleeding badly. Sec. Am. Compl. at 9. Plaintiff states that correctional officers Ferrario and Alonso were holding his legs and Alonso kneed plaintiff in the groin injuring his testicles. Plaintiff states he was then placed in a restraint chair device for ten and a half hours.

Motion for Summary Judgment

A. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is proper where the pleadings, discovery and affidavits show 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). 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 moving party 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. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Cos., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000). When the moving party has met this burden of production, 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. If the nonmoving party fails to produce enough evidence to show a genuine issue of material fact, the moving party wins. Id.

B. Excessive Force

"After incarceration, only the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain... constitutes cruel and unusual punishment forbidden by the Eighth Amendment." Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986) (omission in original) (internal quotation marks omitted). Whenever prison officials stand accused of using excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment, the deliberate indifference standard is inappropriate. Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6 (1992). Instead, the core judicial inquiry is whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm. Id. at 6-7; Whitley, 475 U.S. at 320-21.

In determining whether the use of force was for the purpose of maintaining or restoring discipline, or for the malicious and sadistic purpose of causing harm, a court may evaluate the need for application of force, the relationship between that need and the amount of force used, the extent of any injury inflicted, the threat reasonably perceived by the responsible officials, and any efforts made to temper the severity of a forceful response. Hudson, 503 U.S. at 7; see also Spain v. Procunier, 600 F.2d 189, 195 (9th Cir. 1979) (guards may use force only in proportion to need in each situation); see, e.g., Furnace v. Sullivan, 705 F.3d 1021, 1027 (9th Cir. 2013) (reversing district court's grant of defendants' motion for summary judgment because plaintiff's evidence that guards emptied two pepper spray canisters at him when he put his hands on his cell's food port opening raised a disputed issue of material fact regarding whether he posed a threat that justified defendants using pepper spray); Clement v. Gomez, 298 F.3d 898, 904 (9th Cir. 2002) (pepper spraying fighting inmates a second time after hearing coughing and gagging from prior spray was not malicious and sadistic for purpose of causing harm, where initial shot of spray had been blocked by inmates' bodies).

C. Facts

The court has reviewed defendants' motion for summary judgment and plaintiff's verified second amended complaint. The following facts are undisputed, unless otherwise noted. Defendants have included a video of the incident. While the video is helpful, much of the incident cannot be seen due to other ...


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