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Heilman v. Sanchez

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 16, 2016

L. SANCHEZ, Defendant.



         I. Introduction and Procedural History

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter proceeds on a retaliation claim against defendant L. Sanchez.

         Plaintiff initiated this action on January 26, 2010, in the Solano County Superior Court. (See Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1.) The case was removed to the Northern District of California under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b) on April 23, 2010, and transferred to this court on May 6, 2010. (ECF Nos. 1, 7.) On November 9, 2010, the then-assigned magistrate judge dismissed plaintiff's complaint with leave to amend for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 11.) Plaintiff then filed a first amended complaint (ECF No. 14), which was dismissed without leave to amend on November 22, 2011, for failure to state a claim. (ECF Nos. 20, 22.) Judgment was entered accordingly.

         Following plaintiff's timely appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the decision of this court was reversed in part on July 28, 2014, and the matter was remanded for further proceedings.[1] Heilman v. Sanchez, 583 Fed.Appx. 837 (9th Cir. June 13, 2014) (ECF No. 36). Specifically, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of all claims but for plaintiff's retaliation claim against defendant Sanchez based on the latter's threats of disciplinary action if plaintiff accessed the prison's grievance system and his carrying out of these threats by removing plaintiff from the library and placing false allegations in his file.

         On remand, and following denial of plaintiff's motion to file a supplemental pleading (ECF Nos. 40, 50), defendant was ordered to file a responsive pleading. On December 11, 2015, defendant filed a motion for extension of time to file a responsive pleading (ECF No. 59), and then on February 17, 2016, he filed a motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 64). Less than one month later, defendant filed an answer (ECF No. 74), and a motion to stay discovery (ECF No. 75). These motions are considered herein, as is plaintiff's motion to stay the summary judgment motion or, in the alternative, an extension of time to file an opposition. (ECF No. 73.)

         II. Plaintiff's Allegations

         In the December 22, 2010, first amended complaint ("FAC"), plaintiff alleges as follows[2]:

         At all times relevant to this action, plaintiff was an inmate housed at California Medical Facility ("CMF") in Vacaville, California. Defendant Sanchez was a Junior Librarian.

         Incident One:

         On November 11, 2007, defendant became angry with plaintiff for seeking copies of legal documents. Defendant made "implied" verbal threats against plaintiff should the latter file a grievance against defendant concerning this incident. From November 11, 2007, to July 6, 2008, defendant continued to make "implied" threats. At some time during this period, plaintiff filed an inmate grievance regarding defendant's conduct.

         Incident Two:

         On July 6, 2008, defendant denied plaintiff copies of plaintiff's inmate trust account statements and in forma pauperis forms. FAC ¶ 18. In retaliation for plaintiff's earlier grievance, defendant filed two identical 128-A counseling chronos in plaintiff's central file concerning this July 2008 incident. FAC ¶ 20. Plaintiff became aware of the chronos in late-November 2008 and subsequently filed another grievance against defendant. In October 2009, plaintiff filed a complaint against defendant in the Solano County Superior Court.

         Incident Three:

         On May 4, 2009, defendant ordered plaintiff removed from the law library in handcuffs. FAC ¶ 31. Defendant accused plaintiff of accessing the library without authorization, but plaintiff claims that he had a ducat pass to enter. This incident was in retaliation for plaintiff's earlier grievances.

         Incident Four:

         On April 27, 2010, defendant excluded plaintiff from the law library. FAC ¶ 33. Defendant falsely activated his emergency staff alarm, telling plaintiff, "I got you now!" This incident was in retaliation for plaintiff's earlier grievances.

         Plaintiff seeks damages and the removal of the aforementioned chronos from plaintiff's central file.

         III. Legal Standards

         Summary judgment is appropriate when the moving party "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).

         Under summary judgment practice, "[t]he moving party initially bears the burden of proving the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." In re Oracle Corp. Sec. Litig., 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). The moving party may accomplish this 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), admission, interrogatory answers, or other materials" or by showing that such materials "do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that the adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). "Where the non-moving party bears the burden of proof at trial, the moving party need only prove that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Oracle Corp., 627 F.3d at 387 (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). Indeed, 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." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. "[A] complete failure of proof ...

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