United States District Court, E.D. California
SHAVOUGUE A. MASON, Plaintiff,
M.L. MARTINEZ, Defendants.
FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS
ALLISON CLAIRE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a civil rights
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently before
the court are plaintiff's motion for summary judgment
(ECF No. 56) and defendants' motion for summary judgment
(ECF No. 57).
complaint in this case was filed by the Clerk of the Court on
April 28, 2014. ECF No. 1. Upon screening, the complaint was
found to state claims against defendants M. Martinez, V.
Martinez, Major, Lozano, Matteson, and Kyte. ECF No. 8. The
claims against defendants Lee, Runnels, and Good were
dismissed and plaintiff was given the option to either
proceed against the remaining defendants or amend the
complaint. Id. Plaintiff opted to proceed without
amending the complaint. ECF No. 11. Defendants M. Martinez,
V. Martinez, Major, Lozano, Matteson, and Kyte answered (ECF
No. 18) and filed a motion for partial summary judgment,
prior to the close of discovery, based on plaintiff's
alleged failure to exhaust his administrative remedies (ECF
No. 22). The undersigned recommended that the defendants'
motion for summary judgment as to the claims against
defendant V. Martinez be granted, the motion be denied as to
all other claims, and that the case proceed on the claims
against defendants M. Martinez, Major, Lozano, Matteson, and
Kyte. ECF No. 42 at 9, 11. The United States
District Judge assigned to the case adopted the findings and
recommendations in full. ECF No. 50. The parties were then
given an opportunity to file merits-based motions for summary
judgment and their fully briefed cross-motions are now
pending before the court.
states that on September 22, 2013, he was walking to the
chapel when he was called out of line by defendant Martinez
for a routine body search. ECF No. 1 at 3. Plaintiff complied
with Martinez's orders to spread his legs and then
Martinez kicked plaintiff in the right ankle, constituting
excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Id. Plaintiff asserts that the kick almost made him
fall, but he was able to catch himself. Id. After
returning to his cell, plaintiff began to feel pain in his
right ankle and requested medical attention. Id. at
3-4. Plaintiff also filed a staff complaint against defendant
Martinez for kicking him in the ankle. Id. at 4.
Three days after the incident, plaintiff was placed in
administrative segregation and the next day he was notified
that his placement was a result of the staff complaint.
Id. The order to place him in administrative
segregation was signed by defendant Major. Id.
Plaintiff asserts that he was placed in administrative
segregation in retaliation for filing the complaint against
Martinez. Id. Plaintiff subsequently filed a
grievance challenging his placement in administrative
segregation. Id. at 5.
November 5, 2013, plaintiff was notified that Martinez had
submitted a general chrono expressing safety concerns about
plaintiff returning to the general population, and he was
therefore being retained in administrative segregation.
Id. Plaintiff was later notified that he was being
transferred to another institution. Id. Plaintiff
asserts that defendants Major, Matteson, Lozano, and Kyte
retained him in administrative segregation in retaliation for
filing grievances and subsequently transferred him to another
institution in order to cover up the excessive force used by
Martinez during plaintiff's body search and to deter
plaintiff from filing further grievances. Id. at
5-6. Plaintiff asserts that defendants' conduct
constituted retaliation in violation of his First Amendment
Motions for Summary Judgment
well-established that the pleadings of pro se litigants are
held to “less stringent standards than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers.” Haines v. Kerner, 404
U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per curiam). Nevertheless, “[p]ro
se litigants must follow the same rules of procedure that
govern other litigants.” King v. Atiyeh, 814
F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987) (citations omitted),
overruled on other grounds, Lacey v. Maricopa
County, 693 F.3d 896 (9th Cir. 2012) (en banc). However,
the unrepresented prisoners' choice to proceed without
counsel “is less than voluntary” and they are
subject to “the handicaps . . . detention necessarily
imposes upon a litigant, ” such as “limited
access to legal materials” as well as “sources of
proof.” Jacobsen v. Filler, 790 F.2d 1362,
1364-65 & n.4 (9th Cir. 1986) (citations and internal
quotation marks omitted). Inmate litigants, therefore, should
not be held to a standard of “strict literalness”
with respect to the requirements of the summary judgment
rule. Id. at 1364 n.4 (citation omitted).
court is mindful of the Ninth Circuit's more overarching
caution in this context, as noted above, that district courts
are to “construe liberally motion papers and pleadings
filed by pro se inmates and should avoid applying
summary judgment rules strictly.” Thomas v.
Ponder, 611 F.3d 1144, 1150 (9th Cir. 2010).
Accordingly, though plaintiff has largely complied with the
rules of procedure, the court will consider the record before
it in its entirety. However, only those assertions in the
motion and opposition which have evidentiary support in the
record will be considered.
moves for summary judgment and opposes defendants'
cross-motion on the grounds that (1) defendant M. Martinez
violated plaintiff's rights under the Eighth Amendment by
using excessive force, and (2) defendants Major, Lozano,
Matteson, and Kyte violated plaintiff's First Amendment
rights by placing and retaining him in administrative
segregation and transferring him to another institution in
retaliation for filing grievances. ECF No. 56 at 1, 4-7; ECF
No. 60 at 6-14. He further argues that defendants are not
entitled to qualified immunity. Id. at 14-19.
move for summary judgment on the grounds that (1) Martinez
did not violate plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights
because her use of force was not excessive, (2) Major,
Lozano, Matteson, and Kyte did not violate plaintiff's
First Amendment rights because plaintiff was placed in
administrative segregation for legitimate penological
reasons, and alternatively, (3) that all defendants are
entitled to qualified immunity. ECF No. 57-1. They oppose
plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on the ground
that he has not met his burden. ECF No. 58 at 2-4.
Legal Standards for Summary Judgment
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), admissions, interrogatory answers, or
other materials” or by showing that such materials
“do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine
dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible
evidence to support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1).
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 concerning
an essential element of the nonmoving party's case
necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.”
Id. at 323. In such a circumstance, summary judgment
should “be granted so long as whatever is before the
district court demonstrates that the standard for the entry
of summary judgment, as set forth in Rule 56(c), is
moving party meets its initial responsibility, the burden
then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine
issue as to any material fact actually does exist.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). In attempting to establish the
existence of this factual dispute, the opposing party may not
rely upon the allegations or denials of its pleadings but is
required to tender evidence of specific facts in the form of
affidavits, and/or admissible discovery material, in support
of its contention that the dispute exists. See
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The opposing party must demonstrate that
the fact in contention is material, i.e., a fact “that
might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law,
” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248 (1986); T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pacific Elec.
Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir.
1987), and that the dispute is genuine, i.e., “the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party, ” Anderson,
447 U.S. at 248.
endeavor to establish the existence of a factual dispute, the
opposing party need not establish a material issue of fact
conclusively in its favor. It is sufficient that
“‘the claimed factual dispute be shown to require
a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing
versions of the truth at trial.'” T.W. Elec.
Serv., 809 F.2d at 630 (quoting First Nat'l Bank
of Ariz. V. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288-89
(1968). Thus, the “purpose of summary judgment is to
pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see
whether there is a genuine need for trial.”
Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted).
evaluating the evidence to determine whether there is a
genuine issue of fact, [the court] draw[s] all inferences
supported by the evidence in favor of the non-moving
party.” Walls v. Central Costa Cnty. Transit
Auth., 653 F.3d 963, 966 (9th Cir. 2011) (citation
omitted). It is the opposing party's obligation to
produce a factual predicate from which the inference may be
drawn. See Richards v. Nielsen Freight Lines, 810
F.2d 898, 902 (9th Cir. 1987). Finally, to demonstrate a
genuine issue, the opposing party “must do more than
simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the
material facts.” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586
(citations omitted). “Where the record taken as a whole
could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
non-moving party, there is no ‘genuine issue for
trial.'” Id. at 587 (quoting First
Nat'l Bank, 391 U.S. at 289).
27, 2016, defendants served plaintiff with notice of the
requirements for opposing a motion pursuant to Rule 56 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. ECF No. 57-2; see
Klingele v. Eikenberry, 849 F.2d 409, 411 (9th Cir.
1988); Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 960 (9th Cir.
1998) (en banc) (movant may provide notice).
Undisputed Material Facts
following material facts are undisputed except as noted.
time relevant to the complaint, plaintiff was an inmate in
the custody of the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation (CDCR) at the California State Prison
(CSP)-Solano. Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Facts
(DSUF) (ECF No. 57-3) ¶ 1; Plaintiff's Statement of
Undisputed Facts (PSUF) ¶ 1. During this time, defendants
Martinez, Major, Lozano, Matteson, and Kyte were employed as
at CSP-Solano. ECF No. 21 at 1; ECF No. 57-3 at 13 (Martinez
Decl.) ¶ 1; ECF No. 57-3 at 21 (Major Decl.) ¶ 1;
ECF No 57-3 at 30 (Kyte Decl.) ¶ 1; ECF No. 57-3 at 40
(Matteson Decl.) ¶ 1; ECF No. 57-3 at 72 (Lozano Decl.)
September 22, 2013, plaintiff was entering the chapel when he
was called out of line for a random clothed body search by
defendant Martinez. DSUF ¶ 2; Response to
¶ 2.Martinez asked plaintiff to spread his legs
and plaintiff complied. DSUF ¶ 2; Response to DSUF
¶ 2. Martinez then asked plaintiff to spread his legs
wider. DSUF ¶ 2; Response to DSUF ¶ 2. At this
point, plaintiff claims that defendant Martinez kicked him in
the right ankle. ECF 1 at 3; Response to DSUF ¶¶
2-3. Martinez denies that she kicked plaintiff, but admits
that she placed her foot between plaintiff's legs and put
pressure on his right foot to indicate he should move his
foot over further. DSUF ¶¶ 2-3. Plaintiff did not
say anything to Martinez in response to her conduct. DSUF
¶ 4; Response to DSUF ¶ 4.
same day, plaintiff submitted a health care request form
claiming that he had “throb[b]ing pain in R ankle after
being kicked in it by c/o Martinez while being searched going
into chapel.” ECF No. 60 at 30. On September 24, 2013,
he was seen by a registered nurse, RN Morales, regarding the
health care request. Id.; PSUF ¶ 12; Response
to PSUF (ECF No. 59) ¶ 12. The nurse recorded that
plaintiff reported his pain level at 5/10 and observed that
plaintiff “walked with a slow steady gait, slight
limp.” ECF No. 60 at 30-31; PSUF ¶ 12; Response to
PSUF ¶ 12. In 2011, before this incident, plaintiff had
surgery to remove bone spurs from his right ankle. DSUF
¶ 7; Response to DSUF ¶ 7. After his surgery and
prior to the incident with Martinez, plaintiff experienced
chronic, intermittent pain in his right ankle due to the bone
spurs and arthritis, but the pain occurred only during
inclement weather. ECF No. 60 at 60 (Depo transcript
also submitted an inmate grievance against Martinez which was
dated September 22, 2013, and processed on September 25,
2013. ECF No. 57-3 at 16, 18; DSUF ¶ 8;
Response to DSUF ¶ 8.
September 25, 2013, defendant Major completed a CDC 114-D
Administrative Segregation Unit Placement Notice advising
plaintiff that he was being placed in administrative
segregation. DSUF ¶ 9; PSUF ¶ 7. Under reasons for
placement, the boxes for “presents an immediate threat
to the safety of self or others, ” “jeopardizes
integrity of an investigation of alleged serious misconduct
or criminal activity, ” and “endangers
institution security” were checked. ECF No. 57-3 at 26.
The description of the circumstances supporting the placement
stated that “on September 22, 2013, you submitted a 602
form alleging Correctional Officer M. Martinez utilized
unnecessary force on you while she was conducted [sic] a
clothed body search of your person. You will remain in ASU
pending investigation.” Id. The placement
notice documented that plaintiff was not retained in
administrative segregation for disciplinary reasons.
Id. The bottom portion of the notice, which was
completed by non-defendant Capt. Mitchell, states that a
decision had been made to retain him in administrative
segregation “pending completion [of] investigation into
excessive UOF.” Id.
to the California Code of Regulations, an inmate “shall
be immediately removed from the [general population] and
placed in administrative segregation” when his presence
in the general population “presents an immediate threat
to the safety of the inmate or others, endangers
institutional security or jeopardizes the integrity of an
investigation.” Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3335.
The parties dispute whether § 3335 required plaintiff to
be placed in administrative segregation and whether it was
the basis for his placement. DSUF ¶¶ 10-11;
Response to DSUF ¶¶ 10-11.
October 2, 2013, plaintiff was taken to an Institutional
Classification Committee (ICC) meeting regarding his
placement in administrative segregation. DSUF ¶ 12;
Response to DSUF ¶ 12. Defendants Matteson and Kyte were
present as committee members during the ICC hearing. DSUF
¶ 12; PSUF ¶ 11. Defendants Major and Lozano were
not present at the ICC hearing. ECF No. 57-3 at 45. The ICC
decided to retain plaintiff in administrative segregation and
recommended a 60-day extension of his placement. DSUF ¶
12; PSUF ¶ 11. According to the report, petitioner was
initially placed into administrative segregation “due
to Pending [sic] investigation into unnecessary force
utilized by C/O M. Martinez” and that he would be
“retained in ASU pending Facility investigation.”
ECF No. 57-3 at 35. The report further states that he was
placed in administrative segregation “to protect the
integrity of an investigation into possible staff
misconduct” and specifically identifies the excessive
force alleged in his appeal. Id.
October 14, 2013, plaintiff filed another inmate appeal, this
time stating that he had been placed in administrative
segregation because of the staff complaint he filed regarding
Martinez. DSUF ¶ 16; PSUF ¶ 5.
October 21, 2013, Martinez wrote a “General
Chrono” requesting that plaintiff not be released back
to the general population at CSP-Solano and that he be
transferred to another institution. DSUF ¶ 17; Response
to DSUF ¶ 17. The chrono stated that
[i]f Inmate Mason is released back to the general population
at CSP-Solano, I feel Inmate Mason would attempt to
manipulate this writer, by making other false statements
against me, in an attempt to prevent me from conducting my
job duties as a Correctional Officer. Additionally, I feel he
would also attempt to manipulate other Staff Members in the
same manner, which would jeopardize the Safety and security
of the institution, staff, and inmates.
ECF No. 57-3 at 63.
November 5, 2013, plaintiff was issued another Administrative
Segregation Unit Placement Notice retaining him in
administrative segregation based on the information in
Martinez's general chrono. DSUF ¶ 18; Response to
DSUF ¶ 18. According to the placement notice, plaintiff
was retained in administrative segregation “due to
Correctional Officer M. Martinez's concerns for staff
safety” and that he was initially placed in
administrative segregation “pending an investigation
into allegations Officer Martinez utilized unnecessary
force.” ECF No. 57-3 at 37. Under reasons for
placement, the boxes for “presents an immediate threat
to the safety of self or others” and “endangers
institution security” were checked. Id. The
bottom portion, which was completed by defendant Kyte, states
that the placement was not for disciplinary reasons and that
he would be “retain[ed] pending ICC review and TX
November 12, 2013, defendant Lozano reviewed and signed the
second-level response to plaintiff's first grievance. ECF
No. 57-3 at 17, 49-50. The response stated that the inquiry
found that Martinez “did not violate CDCR policy with
respect to one or more of the issues appealed. Appellant ...