United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; REFERRING
CASE TO SETTLEMENT PROCEEDINGS; STAYING CASE; INSTRUCTIONS TO
CLERK (DOCKET NO. 54)
J. DAVILA United States District Judge.
a California prisoner proceeding pro se, filed the
instant civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against prison officials at Salinas Valley State Prison
(“SVSP”). Finding the complaint stated cognizable
claims, the Court ordered service upon Defendants. (Docket
No. 8.) Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, which the Court
granted in part with respect to the claims against Defendants
D. Ambriz, B. Hedrick, M. Ross, J. Hughes, and L. M. Pennisi
who were then dismissed from this action. (Docket No. 49.)
The Court ordered remaining Defendants A. Tankersley, S.
Nunez, P. Sullivan, and R. A. Kessler to file a motion for
summary judgment on the remaining claim, i.e., the
violation of Plaintiff’s First Amendment right to the
free exercise of religion. (Id.)
filed a motion for summary judgment asserting that Plaintiff
cannot prove that they impeded the free exercise of his
religion and that they are entitled to qualified immunity,
among other grounds. (Docket No. 54, hereafter
“Mot.”) Plaintiff filed an opposition, (Docket
No. 62), and Defendants filed a reply, (Docket No. 63). For
the reasons discussed below, the motion is
Statement of Facts
only facts that are undisputed are that on June 18, 2013,
Defendants Tankersley and Nunez came and removed Plaintiff
during the middle of a Jewish service at SVSP. Plaintiff was
assigned to Building A4 at the time.
to Defendants, SVSP officials received information regarding
a possible threat to the safety of one or more correctional
officers in Facility A on June 18, 2013. (Kessler Decl.
¶ 3, Docket No. 57.) On the same day, a threat
assessment procedure was conducted in Building A4 of SVSP
which houses up to 200 inmates. (Id. at ¶¶
6-7.) As per normal prison procedure, inmates were confined
in their cells, and those inmates who were assigned to, but
not present in, Building A4 were methodically located and
returned to A4. (Id. at ¶ 7.) Plaintiff was
assigned to A4, and had to be retrieved from Jewish services
and returned to his cell as part of the threat assessment.
(Id. at ¶ 8.) Plaintiff was one of over 100
inmates who were located and retrieved on June 18, 2013, as
part of the threat assessment. (Id.) It was
determined that a threat did not exist, and the building was
returned to regular program at that time. (Id. at
¶ 9.) Because the threat assessment was completed in
less than 24 hours, no official report was created.
to Plaintiff, he was the only inmate out of A4 who was
removed from Jewish services that day. (Diaz Decl.. Opp. Ex.
B.) Plaintiff observed that he was the only inmate taken in
handcuffs back to his unit and that all the other inmates
from the same unit remained in the recreational yard.
(Id.) Plaintiff states that he witnessed no cells
being searched, no inmates being interviewed or questioned,
nothing “out of the ordinary,” and that inmates
“went and came in from the unit to the yard without any
impedement [sic] at anytime that day of June 18[,]
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). A court will
grant summary judgment “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 . . . since
a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element
of the nonmoving party’s case necessarily renders all
other facts immaterial.” Celotex Corp. v.
Cattrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). A fact is
material if it might affect the outcome of the lawsuit under
governing law, and a dispute about such a material fact is
genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
the moving party bears the initial burden of identifying
those portions of the record which demonstrate the absence of
a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp.,
477 U.S. at 323. Where the moving party will have the burden
of proof on an issue at trial, it must affirmatively
demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact could find other
than for the moving party. But on an issue for which the
opposing party will have the burden of proof at trial, the
moving party need only point out “that there is an
absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party’s
case.” Id. at 325. If the evidence in
opposition to the motion is merely colorable, or is not
significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted.
See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-50.
burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to “go beyond
the pleadings and by her own affidavits, or by the
‘depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file,’ designate specific facts showing
that there is a genuine issue for trial.’”
Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324 (citations omitted).
If the nonmoving party fails to make this showing, “the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Id. at 323.
Court’s function on a summary judgment motion is not to
make credibility determinations or weigh conflicting evidence
with respect to a material fact. See T.W. Elec. Serv.,
Inc. V. Pacific Elec. Contractors Ass’n, 809 F.2d
626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987). The evidence must be viewed in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and the
inferences to be drawn from the facts must be viewed in a
light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See id.
at 631. It is not the task of the district court to scour the
record in search of a genuine issue of triable fact.
Keenan v. Allen, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996).
The nonmoving party has the burden of identifying with
reasonable particularity the evidence that precludes summary
judgment. Id. If the nonmoving party fails to do so,
the district court may properly grant summary judgment in
favor of the moving party. See id.; see, e.g., Carmen v.
San Francisco Unified School District, 237 F.3d 1026,
1028-29 (9th Cir. 2001).