United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; DENYING
PLAINTIFF'S CROSS-MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; AND
REFERRING MATTER FOR SETTLEMENT PROCEEDINGS
GONZALEZ ROGERS United States District Judge
Aaron Lamont Stribling, a state prisoner currently
incarcerated at California State Prison - Sacramento, has
filed the instant pro se civil rights complaint
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 stemming from constitutional
violations that took place at Salinas Valley State Prison
(“SVSP”), where he was previously incarcerated.
Dkt. 1. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged claims of excessive
force as well as deprivation of food for two days in December
2013 against the following Defendants: SVSP Sergeant R.
Poodry; and SVSP Correctional Officers Brown, Giudino,
Rodriguez, Aldaino, S. Picazo, V. Franco, O. Aragon, L. Baez
and Valles. Id. at 2-3.
following is taken from the Court's January 13, 2016
Order of Partial Dismissal and Service:
Plaintiff alleges that on December 23, 2013, he was subjected
to excessive force by Defendants Picazo, Franco, Valles,
Aragon and Poodry. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that the
aforementioned Defendants “came with a shield [and]
signaled [Defendant] Baez to open the door to
[Plaintiff's] cell.” Dkt. 1 at 3. Plaintiff alleges
that “they all came in [his cell] and started punching
on [him].” Id. He adds that “they
didn't have a video camera or a captain present during
the cell extraction.” Id.
Dkt. 4 at 2. Meanwhile, as to his claim of a denial of food
on December 22 and 23, 2013, Plaintiff alleges that
Defendants' justification for denying him food was
because he had withheld his tray after complaining about
missing items at breakfast on December 22, 2013. Dkt. 1 at 3.
Plaintiff claims that Defendants “could have served me
food in paper bags by they didn't the next day
liberally construing Plaintiff's aforementioned
allegations regarding the use of excessive force on December
23, 2013, the Court found that Plaintiff stated a cognizable
Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Picazo, Franco,
Valles, Aragon, and Poodry, as well as a claim of failure to
intervene against Defendant Baez. Id. The Court
found that the conclusory allegations in his complaint
relating to the denial of food failed to state a cognizable
claim of a violation of his constitutional rights, stating:
[C]onclusory allegations of culpability do not suffice.
See Keenan [v. Hall], 83 F.3d [1083, ] 1091 [(9th
Cir. 1996)]. In addition, while adequate food is a basic
human need protected by the Eighth Amendment, see
id., the denial of food for two days in this case does
not present a sufficiently serious condition to meet the
objective prong of the Eighth Amendment deliberate
indifference analysis. See, e.g., Foster v.
Runnels, 554 F.3d 807, 812 n.1 (9th Cir. 2009) (denial
of two meals over nine-week period was not sufficiently
serious to meet objective prong of Eighth Amendment
deliberate indifference); cf. Id. at 812 (denial of
sixteen meals over twenty-three days was “sufficiently
serious deprivation because food is one of life's basic
necessities”). Therefore, the Court finds that
Plaintiff's allegations in his complaint relating to the
denial of food fail to state a cognizable claim of a
violation of his constitutional rights. The Court DISMISSES
Plaintiff's claim relating to the denial of food against
Defendants Brown, Giudino, Rodriguez and Aldaino.
Id. at 3.
parties are presently before the Court on Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment as to the remaining Eighth
Amendment excessive force claim stemming from the December
23, 2013 incident. Dkt. 18. Plaintiff has filed an opposition
to Defendants' motion, along with a cross-motion for
summary judgment. Dkt. 34. Defendants have filed a reply to
the opposition, and they have indicated that they oppose
Plaintiff's cross-motion. Dkt. 36.
before the Court is Plaintiff's “Motion to Exclude
Off the Record the 6-9-16 Deposition of Plaintiff, and the
7-19-16 Correction Letter of His 6-9-16 Deposition.”
Dkt. 32. Defendants have filed an opposition to
Plaintiff's aforementioned motion. Dkt. 33. Plaintiff
argues that Defendants' counsel acted improperly by
filing Plaintiff's errata sheet with the relevant
portions of the deposition transcript. Compare Dkt.
28-1 at 1-105 (Pl.'s Dep.) with Id. at 106
(“Letter to Deposition Officer/Errata Sheet”).
Instead, Plaintiff contends, his corrections should have been
interlineated within the transcript. Dkt. 32 at 1. However,
Plaintiff misinterprets the applicable Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure, Rule 30(e)(1)(B), which requires the deposition
officer to honor Plaintiff's request for an opportunity
to make changes to the transcript and “attach an
changes the deponent makes” to the transcript.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(e)(1)(B). Rule 30(e)(1)(B)
does not require that the deposition officer interlineate
Plaintiff's changes-nor does it require interlineation by
Defendants' counsel. Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion
is DENIED. Dkt. 32. Having read and considered the
papers submitted, and being fully informed, the Court GRANTS
in part and DENIES in part Defendants' motion for summary
judgment, and DENIES Plaintiff's cross-motion for summary
judgment. The Court refers this matter to the Pro Se Prisoner
DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted.
time of the events set forth in his complaint, Plaintiff was
a state prisoner who was incarcerated in the administrative
segregation unit (“ad-seg”) at SVSP. Dkt. 1 at 3;
Low Decl., Ex. A (Pl.'s Dep.) 76:11-21. Also during the
same time frame, Defendant Poodry was the sergeant on duty
and the remaining Defendants were correctional officers at
SVSP. Franco Decl. ¶ 1, Picazo Decl. ¶ 1; Aragon
Decl. ¶ 1; Poodry Decl. ¶ 4.
December 23, 2013 incident happened in and around
Plaintiff's cell, which was cell 230, in C-Section of
Building D2 in ad-seg. Pl.'s Dep. 76:11-21; Poodry Decl.
¶¶ 5, 8-10. Ad-seg is housing for inmates whose
presence in an institution's general population setting
presents an immediate threat to the safety of the inmate,
others, or the institution. Poodry Decl. ¶¶ 6-7.
ad-seg, all meals are served and consumed within the
inmate's assigned cell. Id. ¶ 11; Pl.'s
Dep. 83:8-84:8. Two meals on trays (breakfast and dinner) and
one sack lunch are served daily. Id. Plaintiff
explains the rationale behind in-cell meal service as
follows: “[Prison officials] have to maintain safety
[and] security of the prison. It's dangerous inmates that
are housed in [ad-seg], so they have to keep everybody
separated. The only way they can do that is by leaving them
in the cells or taking them out by themselves.”
Pl.'s Dep. 84:25-85:5
in ad-seg are equipped with food/cuff ports that are used by
staff to administer meals and also to apply and remove
handcuffs. Poodry Decl. ¶ 12; Pl.'s Dep. 83:8-10;
Salao Decl., Exs. C, D (photographs of the door for cell
230). Inmates who take control of food/cuff ports create
serious safety concerns for staff and mandate immediate
suspension of the programming of the other inmates housed in
the unit. Poodry Decl. ¶¶ 13-14.
Alleged Denial of Food on December 22, 2013 and December 23,
claims that, on December 22, 2013, a correctional officer
distributed a breakfast tray that did not contain what
Plaintiff believed to be a sufficient “daily caloric
intake” because it was missing some food items. Dkt. 1
at 3; Pl.'s Dep. 72:18-24. Plaintiff complained and asked
two different officers to contact the kitchen to have them
replace the missing items, but they refused. Pl.'s Dep.
72:24-73:11. Plaintiff then withheld his food tray in
protest. Id. 73:9-11.
for food trays is also a safety concern tied to the security
of the institution. Poodry Decl. ¶ 14. Staff issuing
food trays to inmates in cells must account for all trays
after the meal is concluded. Id. On occasion,
inmates have refused to relinquish their food trays in an
effort to circumvent established procedures by attempting to
air grievances improperly. Id. Per policy, trays
inmates refuse to relinquish to staff will not be recognized
as negotiating or bargaining tools. Id. If an inmate
refuses an order to return his food tray, staff will not
provide another meal on a plastic tray until the held tray is
Plaintiff refused to return his tray after breakfast on
December 22, 2013, Plaintiff did not receive lunch or dinner
on that day. Pl.'s Dep. 73:3-11.
December 23, 2013, Plaintiff claims that before breakfast, he
yelled from his cell and offered to return his tray to
Defendant Picazo, who was “standing in the doorway of
the section.” Id. 73:12-15. Defendant Picazo
“said no, we got it out for you for what you did to our
officers yesterday.” Id. 73:15-16. Plaintiff
did not receive breakfast that day. Id. 73:16-17.
Afterwards, when Defendant Franco was collecting breakfast
trays and passing out sack lunches, Plaintiff requested for
two lunches “to supplement the fact [he] didn't get
a breakfast tray, that it was not [his] fault.”
Id. 90:5-91:5. Defendant Franco offered him one
lunch, not two. Id. 91:6-11. Plaintiff declined the
offer because “it was not fair.” Id.
91:12-15. Defendant Franco asked for the tray back, and
Plaintiff refused to give it to him. Id. 91:20-92:8.
When asked at his deposition why he refused, Plaintiff
explained: “Because [Defendant Franco] was not willing
to give me two sack lunches because I didn't get a
breakfast tray and it was not my fault.” Id.
The December 23, 2013 Incident
December 23, 2013, Licensed Vocational Nurse C. Zavala was
distributing morning medication to ad-seg inmates through the
food/cuff port in their cells. Pl.'s Dep. 93:1-94:22. At
around 8:38 a.m., Nurse Zavala told Defendant Franco that
Plaintiff reported suicidal thoughts while morning medication
was being delivered. Franco Decl. ¶¶ 4, 6, Ex. A;
Picazo Decl. ¶ 4, Ex. A; Poodry Decl. ¶ 15, Ex. A.
Defendant Franco then approached Plaintiff's cell and
ordered him to submit to an unclothed body search and to
submit to handcuffs. Franco Decl. ¶ 5. Plaintiff walked
away from the front of the cell to the back of the cell.
Id. Defendant Franco gave the same order to
Plaintiff, but Plaintiff stayed at the back of the cell and
did not respond to Defendant Franco's orders.
Id. Defendant Franco asked Defendant Picazo to
notify the on-duty Sergeant, Defendant Poodry, while
Defendant Franco continued to watch Plaintiff. Id.
¶¶ 6-7. Plaintiff began to use loose paper to cover
up his cell windows, which consisted of three thin
rectangular-shaped windows-two on his door and one to the
right of his door. Id. ¶ 7; Salao Decl., Exs.
C, D (photographs of the door for cell 230). Defendant Franco
ordered Plaintiff to stop, but to no avail. Franco Decl.
¶¶ 7, 9.
Picazo notified Defendant Poodry that Plaintiff was suicidal
and that he refused to submit to an unclothed body search.
Picazo Decl. ¶ 4. At the time he was notified, Defendant
Poodry knew Plaintiff had previously been admitted to the
Correctional Treatment Center for suicide precautions and had
been received by ad-seg after being discharged from the