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Blair v. Trimble

United States District Court, S.D. California

August 10, 2016

M. TRIMBLE, et al., Defendants.


          Hon. Cynthia Bashant United States District Judge.


         A. The Allegations in the Complaint

         On October 7, 2014, as he was leaving the dining room at Calipatria State Prison, Plaintiff Jermaine Robert Blair claims he heard Correction Officer (“C.O.”) Trimble say, “Yeah, shithead, I’m talking to you!” to which Blair responded, “Fuck you.” (Complaint, ECF No. 1.) C.O. Trimble then approached Blair “in an aggressive manner” and, although Blair complied with his orders to turn around, he “appl[ied] the handcuffs with such force they lacerated my skin and immediately stopped circulation.” (Id.) C.O. Trimble then proceeded to “put his hand in an unconventional manner between my arm and over my shoulder to propel me forward” to the Program Office. (Id.) Enroute to the Program Office, words were exchanged, and C.O. Trimble “then attempted to slam me face first into the asphalt but I ended up on my knees; with him now applying a choke hold, attempting to choke me out.” (Id.) Blaire claims the incident was captured on videotape and will confirm that C.O. Trimble’s “actions were excessive, unnecessary and without justifiable provocation.” (Id.)

         B. The Disciplinary Hearing[1]

         At Blair’s November 13, 2014, disciplinary hearing, it was alleged that, on October 7, 2014, Blair resisted C.O. Trimble in the performance of his duties. (ECF No. 22-2, Ex. A.) The Hearing Officer considered a videotape of the incident, written reports from C.O. Trimble, as well as other witnesses, and Blair’s oral testimony. (Id.) The Hearing Officer found Blair guilty of resisting a peace officer in the performance of his duties, because, at the initial escort, the video showed Blair stop and pull away, which temporarily prevented the escort from proceeding. (Id.) When asked at the hearing why he had initially paused, Blair was unable to explain the pause, so “[a]t that point, Inmate Blair began to resist which reasonably caused the officer to make adjustments on his grip before continuing with the escort.” (Id.) The Hearing Officer made no findings about the later confrontation in which Blair was taken down to his knees or C.O. Trimble allegedly administered a choke hold, nor did the Hearing Officer make any findings about the tightness of the handcuffs.

         As a result of the guilty finding, Blair was assessed 90 days forfeiture of credits and 10 days loss of yard. (Id.)


         The Court reviews de novo those portions of a Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) to which objections are made. 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1). The Court may “accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” Id. However, “[t]he statute [28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1)(c)] makes it clear that the district judge must review the magistrate judge’s findings and recommendations de novo if objection is made, but not otherwise.” United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc); see also Schmidt v. Johnstone, 263 F.Supp.2d 1219, 1226 (D. Ariz. 2003) (concluding that where no objections were filed, the district court had no obligation to review the magistrate judge’s report). “Neither the Constitution nor the statute requires a district judge to review, de novo, findings and recommendations that the parties themselves accept as correct.” Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d at 1121. This rule of law is well-established in the Ninth Circuit and this district. See Wang v. Masaitis, 416 F.3d 992, 1000 n.13 (9th Cir. 2005) (“Of course, de novo review of a R & R is only required when an objection is made to the R & R.”); Nelson v. Giurbino, 395 F.Supp.2d 946, 949 (S.D. Cal. 2005) (Lorenz, J.) (adopting report in its entirety without review because neither party filed objections to the report despite the opportunity to do so).

         Objections must be written and specific. See, e.g., Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2) (“[A] party may serve and file specific written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations” of the magistrate judge.) “Numerous courts have held that a general objection to the entirety of a Magistrate Judge’s R&R has the same effect as a failure to object.” Alcantara v. McEwen, No. 12-cv-401 IEG (DHB), 2013 WL 4517861 at *1 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 15, 2013) (citing cases).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Blair indicates that he accepts the Magistrate Judge’s R&R on the two Motions for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 33.) Hence, the Court GRANTS the Motions for Summary Judgment with respect to Defendants McNair, Montgomery, and Valdez. (ECF Nos. 19, 20.)

         Blair objects only to the Motion to Dismiss with respect to Defendant Trimble. (ECF No. 33.) Therefore, the Court turns to the Magistrate Judge’s reasons for recommending dismissal with respect to Trimble.

         In Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), the Supreme Court held that if a plaintiff seeks damages in a case that would “necessarily imply the invalidity” of an underlying conviction, the plaintiff cannot pursue a claim for damages and the complaint must be dismissed. Heck, 512 U.S. at 486. The Supreme Court extended this doctrine to a prisoner’s claim for damages in a case that would ...

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