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Stevenson v. Jones

United States District Court, N.D. California

May 30, 2017

CHARLES L. STEVENSON, Plaintiff,
v.
M. JONES, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR DEFENDANT Re: Dkt. No. 23

          SUSAN ILLSTON United States District Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Charles L. Stevenson, an inmate currently at the San Francisco County Jail, filed this pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action is now before the court for consideration of the motion for summary judgment filed by defendant and opposed by Stevenson For the reasons discussed below, summary judgment will be granted in defendant's favor.

         BACKGROUND

         Stevenson alleges two claims in his amended complaint. First, he alleges that San Francisco Sheriff's Deputy Jones used excessive force on April 1, 2015, by handcuffing him too tightly. Second, he alleges that Deputy Jones violated his right to due process by causing him to be put in administrative segregation without a sufficient evidentiary basis for events on April 1, 2015.

         The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted:

         The events and omissions giving rise to this action occurred in April 2015, at the San Francisco County Jail # 5 in San Bruno, California. At the relevant time, Stevenson was housed in the jail as a pretrial detainee (although he has since had a trial and been convicted of a crime).

         Since his arrival at the jail in September 2014, he had been classified as a maximum custody inmate. Docket No. 23-1 (deposition of Charles Stevenson), Reporter's Transcript (“RT”) 75. (Because the Stevenson Deposition transcript is the only transcript in evidence, all references to “RT” refer to pages in that transcript.) Also at the relevant time, M. Jones was a San Francisco Sheriff's deputy stationed at the jail.

         A. Stevenson Is Handcuffed on April 1

         Normally, an inmate is handcuffed with a single pair of handcuffs. According to Stevenson, two pairs of handcuffs -- also sometimes called double-cuffs -- are used for inmates with obesity and medical issues. RT 35. For double-cuffing, one cuff on one pair is attached to one wrist and a cuff on the other pair is attached to the other wrist, and then the other cuffs of the two pairs of handcuffs are attached to each other. RT 53. The wrists are about 12 inches apart when double-cuffs are used. RT 53-54; Docket No. 24 (Jones Decl.) at 2. “Deputies are trained to use one set of handcuffs for officer safety.” Docket No. 24 at 2.

         At the relevant time, Stevenson weighed about 275 pounds and was 5'11” tall. RT 35. According to Stevenson, he is normally double-cuffed when handcuffs are needed; other than on April 1, he has not been placed in single handcuffs since 2014. Docket No. 21 at 2, 4. Stevenson had a “low tier low bunk chrono [i.e., a medical authorization form] from medical based on documented compression fractures in [his] spine from 2011.” Docket No. 21. He provides no evidence that Deputy Jones was aware of this chrono, and does not provide any evidence that he had a chrono for double-cuffs.

         On April 1, Deputy Jones announced in Stevenson's housing unit that inmates in several cells would be moved and that the inmates had to gather their belongings to move. Deputy Jones came to Stevenson's cell and repeatedly ordered Stevenson to get dressed and cuff-up[1] in preparation for the move. Docket No. 24 at 1-2.[2] Stevenson refused to get dressed or cuff-up; instead, he requested to speak to a supervisor. RT 16, 32; Docket No. 21 at 2 (Stevenson “requested a supervisor be present for the re-housing because [he] has witnessed Deputy Jones abuse his authority dealing with other prisoners”). Deputy Jones called for assistance. Sergeant Mallett, a supervisor, responded with several other deputies and Stevenson was put in double-cuffs without further ado. Id. at RT 16, 34-35.[3] Stevenson was placed in an interview room for about an hour and a half. Id. According to Stevenson, Deputy Jones did not take part in this initial handcuffing or moving him to the interview room in Pod 2B.

         At some point, Stevenson was released from the handcuffs and was in an interview room.

         Deputy Jones came to the interview room and told Stevenson to cuff-up. RT 16. Stevenson said to him, “Can I have two handcuffs because I can't put my arms together behind my back. Because I'm a big guy, and my shoulders are wide, and it's hard for me to close my hands.” Id. at 16-17. Deputy Jones refused to double-cuff Stevenson, and “grabbed both [his] hands, slammed them together, and placed the cuffs on [Stevenson].” RT 17; Docket No. 21 at 3-4. When the handcuffs were put on him, Stevenson yelled but did not say they were too tight and did not ask for the handcuffs to be loosened. RT 40-41. Stevenson states that he did not want to say anything because he thought Deputy Jones had a bad attitude, and thought that saying something might have prompted Deputy Jones to inflict more pain in handling him. RT 40-41. There is no evidence that Stevenson revealed these thoughts to Deputy Jones.

         Stevenson's wrists were bruised and cut from the handcuffing, and healed in a couple of days. RT 59-60. Stevenson also contends that his wrist was fractured, but provides no competent evidence in support of the contention and admits that no medical doctor ever made such a diagnosis.[4]

         B. Disciplinary Write-Ups

         Stevenson received three disciplinary write-ups from Deputy Jones within 24 hours of the April 1 incident. He also had received two other disciplinary write-ups in the recent past, which have some relevance to the issues here because new disciplinary periods were tacked onto the end of existing disciplinary periods -- somewhat in the nature of consecutive rather than concurrent sentences. The incident reports provide the following information about the several disciplinary write-ups:

         • March 6, 2015 narcotics/medications/weapons possession: During a cell search on March 6, deputy Colmenero found “2 razor blades, 1 hand rolled cigarette of suspected marijuana, and 2 blue pills identified as Sertraline 50 mg.” hidden in a jar with Stevenson's name on it. Docket No. 23-2 at 113-14. The discipline imposed was disciplinary isolation from March 7 to March 27, loss of commissary from March 7 to March 27, and loss of visits from March 7 to March 27. Id.

         • March 19, 2015 drug possession: Deputy Rold searched Stevenson's cell on March 19, and “found two paper bindles. One had a white powder substance. One had a small blue pill. JMS identified the small blue pill as Sertraline, a pill which Stevenson is prescribed but does not have a self carry prescription for” and the white powder tested “positive for heroin.” Docket No. 23-2 at 116-17. The discipline imposed was disciplinary isolation from March 27 to April 21, loss of recreation from March 27 to April 21, loss of commissary from April 1 to April 19, and loss of visits from March 28 to April 21. Id. at 117.

         • March 31, 2015 refusal to obey direct order: Deputy Jones wrote a disciplinary charge -- apparently called a request for discipline -- at about 6:00 p.m. on March 31, charging Stevenson with disobeying a direct order. The narrative for the offense stated that Stevenson “refuses to stop yelling out of his cell. I have given him several verbal warnings and opportunities to comply with my orders. [H]e refuses. Inmate is currently on lock up until 4/21.” Docket No. 23-2 at 118. According to the incident report, Stevenson's explanation was that “he was yelling . . . because he wanted a grievance.” Id. The discipline imposed was disciplinary isolation from April 21 to May 1, loss of commissary from April 19 to April 29, and loss of visits from April 21 to May 1. Id. Stevenson admits that he received notice and a hearing for this rule violation. RT 47.

         • April 1, 2015 3:30 p.m. refusal to obey direct order: Deputy Jones wrote a disciplinary charge that Stevenson “has been loud and disruptive everyday for the past week. I have given him warning after warning and he still continues to disrupt the daily pod function. Today I ordered him to roll up to be re-housed, he refused. A supervisor had to respond before Stevenson would comply. Inmate says he is not a kid and does not have to listen to anything deputies say. Inmate is currently on lock up until 4/21.” Docket No. 25-3 at 2-3. According to the incident report, “Stevenson claimed that the order for him to cuff up was never given to him by Deputy Jones. Stevenson [said] he was complying with Deputy Jones' order to re-house.” Id. at 2. The discipline imposed was disciplinary isolation from May 1 to May 11, loss of commissary from April 29 to May 9, and loss of visits from May 1 to May 11. Id. at 2.

         • April 1, 2015 5:30 p.m. “riot”: Deputy Jones wrote a disciplinary charge stating: “As I attempted to move inmate to pod 2B, he refused to be handcuffed. He demanded for me to use two handcuffs while being transported. He refused at least 3 lawful orders to cuff up. I eventually placed a pair of handcuffs on inmate Stevenson without using two pairs. As I escorted him to pod 2B he said, ‘I don't give a fuck.' Inmate continually has become disruptive to normal pod operations and was placed in ad-seg housing. He is currently on lock up.” Docket No. 25-4 at 2-3. A comment in the discipline section stated that “Stevenson disrupted Pod 2A and incited the other inmates with statements of non-compliance in which multiple deputies had to quell the disruption.” Id. at 2. The discipline imposed was disciplinary isolation from May 11 to June 10, loss of commissary from May 9 to June 8, and loss of visits from May 11 to June 10. Id.

         Deputy Jones had no involvement with the first two disciplinary matters. Deputy Jones wrote up the disciplinary charges for the last three matters, but did not adjudicate those charges.

         Stevenson's own testimony at his deposition shows some basis for the disciplinary charges on April 1, even though he may have felt justified in his behavior. He stated he asked for a grievance 3-4 times, “yelled” for a grievance, and knocked on his door loudly. RT 26-29. When Deputy Jones “acted” like he did not hear Stevenson, Stevenson “made sure he heard me.” RT 28. When Deputy Jones first came to his ...


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