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Adler v. Gonzalez

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 30, 2015

BRENT ADLER, Plaintiff,
v.
F. GONZALEZ, et al., Defendants.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO DENY DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF No. 64) OBJECTIONS DUE WITHIN FOURTEEN (14) DAYS

MICHAEL J. SENG, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff is a former state prisoner who initiated this civil rights action pro se and in forma pauperis on November 17, 2011. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff since has been released from prison and obtained counsel. (ECF Nos. 36 & 51.) This action proceeds against Defendants on Plaintiff's First Amendment Free Exercise claim. (ECF Nos. 37, 38, 59, 62.)

On April 10, 2015, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 64.) Plaintiff filed his opposition on June 13, 2015. (ECF No. 73.) Defendants did not file a reply.

I. LEGAL STANDARD ” MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Any party may move for summary judgment, and the Court shall grant summary judgment if 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. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Wash. Mut. Inc. v. United States, 636 F.3d 1207, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). Each party's position, whether it be that a fact is disputed or undisputed, must be supported by (1) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including but not limited to depositions, documents, declarations, or discovery; or (2) showing that the materials cited do not establish the presence or absence of a genuine dispute or that the opposing party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1). The Court may consider other materials in the record not cited to by the parties, but it is not required to do so. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3); Carmen v. San Francisco Unified Sch. Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1031 (9th Cir. 2001).

Plaintiff bears the burden of proof at trial, and to prevail on summary judgment, he must affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for him. Soremekun v. Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir. 2007). Defendants do not bear the burden of proof at trial and, in moving for summary judgment, they need only prove an absence of evidence to support Plaintiff's case. In re Oracle Corp. Securities Litigation, 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010).

In judging the evidence at the summary judgment stage, the Court may not make credibility determinations or weigh conflicting evidence, Soremekun, 509 F.3d at 984, and it must draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and determine whether a genuine issue of material fact precludes entry of judgment, Comite de Jornaleros de Redondo Beach v. City of Redondo Beach, 657 F.3d 936, 942 (9th Cir. 2011). However, "conclusory, speculative testimony in affidavits and moving papers is insufficient to raise genuine issues of fact and defeat summary judgment." Angle v. Miller, 673 F.3d 1122, 1134 n.6 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing Soremekun, 509 F.3d at 984).

II. FACTUAL SUMMARY

The Court finds the following facts to be undisputed:

The events giving rise to this lawsuit occurred when Plaintiff was housed at the California Correctional Institute in Tehachapi (CCI). Plaintiff was initially placed on CCI's Facility IVA in November 2008. He was transferred from CCI to Wasco in February 2011.

Plaintiff holds sincere beliefs in Catholicism.

Defendants Gonzalez, Stainer, Holland, Carrasco, Negrete, Steadman, Zanchi, Bryant, Lundy, and Schuyler were all administrators at CCI or correctional staff on Facility IVA during the period of Plaintiff's incarceration at CCI. Chaplain Davis was the Catholic chaplain at CCI at all times relevant to this lawsuit.

Between November 2008 and February 2011, CCI was often placed on "modified programs" because of threatened and actual assaults on staff or inmates. When a modified program is put in place, the Warden prepares a "Program Status ...


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