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Cruz v. Betancourt

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 13, 2017





         Plaintiff, an inmate at the California Training Facility ("CTF"), filed this civil rights case under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging that Officer C. Betancourt, a CTF correctional officer, retaliated against him for filing administrative grievances and orchestrated an attack upon plaintiff by another inmate. Defendant has filed a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment, plaintiff has filed an opposition to the motion to dismiss, and defendant filed a reply brief. Plaintiff then filed a separate opposition to the motion for summary judgment and declaration by another inmate, and defendant filed a motion to strike plaintiffs opposition to the motion for summary judgment and the declaration. For the reasons discussed below, the motion to strike is Denied, and the motion for summary judgment is Granted.


         In 2014, plaintiff was housed in a unit of CTF known as "Whitney Hall, " where defendant was a floor officer. Plaintiff suffers from mental illness for which he received medication. On April 15, 2014, plaintiff was placed on "C-status" - a designation for inmates who have a disciplinary history - because he had one serious rule violation and two administrative rules violations within the previous six months. Inmates on C-status lose certain privileges, including possession of televisions and other appliances, which may be confiscated by prison officials. On May 5, 2014, defendant worked his ordinary shift from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. as the floor officer in Whitney Hall, and during his shift he searched plaintiff's cell and found a television, which he confiscated. At 4:28 p.m., after defendant's shift had ended and he was no working, plaintiff was assaulted by another inmate named Osborn. Osborn was also housed in Whitney Hall on C-status. Osborn seriously injured plaintiff, including knocking plaintiff out and breaking four of his ribs.

         According to plaintiff, defendant generally allowed C-status inmates in Whitney Hall to keep prohibited appliances in their cells as long as they behaved well. Plaintiff asserts that on May 5 defendant searched plaintiff's cell and confiscated the television in retaliation for administrative grievances plaintiff had submitted against defendant's partner, Officer Carillo.

         Plaintiff also claims that defendant orchestrated Osborn's assault of plaintiff on May 5. Specifically, plaintiff asserts that in the morning of May 5, defendant confiscated prohibited items from both plaintiff and Osborn after searching their cells. According to plaintiff, defendant told Osborn that plaintiff had reported Osborn's possession of appliances knowing that Osborn would be angry at plaintiff for being a “snitch.” Plaintiff contends that defendant also knew that Osborn would have access to plaintiff in the afternoon of May 5 when they would both be released from their cells to receive their medications. Therefore, plaintiff claims that Osborn's assault of him was set up by defendant.

         Plaintiff further alleges that following this incident and up until the date plaintiff prepared the complaint filed in this case - December 15, 2015 - defendant continued to threaten plaintiff with “more of the same” property confiscation and serious injuries.


         Defendant argues for dismissal of plaintiff's claims, and in the alternative for summary judgment. Because he is entitled to summary judgment for the reasons discussed below, the dismissal arguments need not be addressed.

         A. Standard of Review

         Summary judgment is proper where the pleadings, discovery and affidavits show that there is "no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Material facts are those which may affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute as to a material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Ibid. The moving party for summary judgment bears the initial burden of identifying those portions of the pleadings, discovery and affidavits which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Cattrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). When the moving party has met this burden of production, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and, by its own affidavits or discovery, set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Ibid. If the nonmoving party fails to produce enough evidence to show a genuine issue of material fact, the moving party wins. Ibid. At summary judgment, the judge must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party: if evidence produced by the moving party conflicts with evidence produced by the nonmoving party, the judge must assume the truth of the evidence set forth by the nonmoving party with respect to that fact. Tolan v. Cotton, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1865 (2014).

         B. Plaintiff's Claims

         1. Reta ...

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