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Fuller v. C. Rippetoe

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 30, 2017

BRUCE L. FULLER, Plaintiff,
v.
C. RIPPETOE, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ADDRESSING PENDING MOTIONS; REOPENING CASE; AND REFERRING CASE TO FEDERAL PRO BONO PROJECT RE: DKT. NOS. 87, 96

          HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff, an inmate at Kern Valley State Prison, filed the instant pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that when he was previously housed at Pelican Bay State Prison (“PBSP”), correctional officials used excessive force on him in violation of the Eighth Amendment. On August 8, 2016, the Court granted in part and denied in part Defendants' summary judgment motion and referred this case to Judge Vadas for settlement proceedings. Dkt. No. 84. On November 9, 2016, Judge Vadas reported that the parties were unable to reach an agreement at that time. Dkt. No. 95.

         Now pending before the Court are (1) Defendants' motion for leave to file motion for reconsideration under Local Rule 7-9 (Docket No. 87), and Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration of the Court's order to appoint counsel (Docket No. 96).

         I. Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration

         A. Standard

         In the Northern District of California, Local Rule 7-9 allows for the filing of motions for reconsideration with respect to interlocutory orders made in a case prior to the entry of final judgment. See Civil L.R. 7-9(a). The moving party must specifically show: (1) that at the time of the motion for leave, a material difference in fact or law exists from that which was presented to the court before entry of the interlocutory order for which the reconsideration is sought, and that in the exercise of reasonable diligence the party applying for reconsideration did not know such fact or law at the time of the interlocutory order; or (2) the emergence of new material facts or a change of law occurring after the time of such order; or (3) a manifest failure by the court to consider material facts or dispositive legal arguments which were presented to the court before such interlocutory order. See Civil L.R. 7-9(b).

         Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, no response need be filed to a motion under the Local Rule. See Civil L.R. 7-9(c). Because Defendants have demonstrated that the Court failed to consider certain material facts, the Court will GRANT Defendants' request for leave to file a motion for reconsideration and will address the motion for reconsideration without ordering a response from Plaintiff.

         B. Analysis

         Defendants argue that there was a manifest failure by the Court to consider material facts and dispositive legal arguments that require entry of judgment in their favor. Specifically, Defendants argue the following. First, Defendants argue that the Court should have entered judgment in favor of Officers Rippetoe and Schaad because these officers deployed the first two pepper-spray grenades which were necessary to restore discipline and order. Second, Defendants argue that the Court failed to address video footage that contradicted the Court's conclusion that the third grenade may have been thrown before Plaintiff stood up and that conclusively demonstrated that the third pepper-spray grenade was deployed after Plaintiff and another inmate stood up from the ground. Third, Defendants argue that the Court incorrectly applied a reasonableness standard in analyzing the Eighth Amendment claim. Fourth, Defendants argue that in denying qualified immunity, the Court erroneously employed a standard has been rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit. The Court addresses each argument in turn.

         1. Officers Rippetoe and Schaad

         The Court agrees that summary judgment should be entered in favor of Officers Rippetoe and Schaad. It is undisputed that the first two grenades were necessary to restore discipline and order. Dkt. No. 84 at 10. Whether Defendants engaged in excessive force turns on when and why Defendants deployed the third grenade. It is undisputed that Officers Rippetoe and Schaad did not deploy either the third or fourth grenade, and were only responsible for deployment of the first two grenades. The Court will therefore GRANT Defendants' motion for reconsideration with respect to Officers Rippetoe and Schaad. Summary judgment is GRANTED in favor of Officers Rippetoe and Schaad, and Officers Rippetoe and Schaad are DISMISSED from this action with prejudice.

         2. Video Footage

         Defendants argue that the Court failed to consider footage from camera #9, which they argue conclusively demonstrates that the third and fourth grenade were both deployed after Plaintiff ran away from the scene. Defendants further argue that because the fourth grenade was properly deployed to restore order and discipline, the third grenade was also therefore properly deployed to restore order and discipline. Dkt. No. 87 at 10. In deciding the summary judgment motion, the Court reviewed all the evidence in the record, including footage from camera #9. In the footage from camera #9, the smoke from the grenades obscures the view of the inmates, and makes it difficult to identify when new grenades are deployed. Because the Court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of Plaintiff and because the video footage does not “clearly contradict the version of the story told by [Plaintiff], ” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007) (finding that videotape clearly contradicted respondent's version of events where respondent claimed he drove safely and followed the rules of the road but videotape showed respondent running red lights, driving at “shockingly fast” speeds, swerving around cars, and crossing double-yellow line), it is inappropriate to grant summary judgment in favor of Defendants based on the record before the Court, see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986) (evidence of the nonmovant is “to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.”).

         3. Eighth Amendment Standard for ...


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