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France v. Mendocino County Sheriff's Office

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 30, 2017



          JACQUELINE SCOTT CORLEY United States Magistrate Judge.


         Plaintiff, currently a California prisoner, filed this pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office (“MCSO”) and four MCSO officials for using excessive force against him and denying him adequate medical treatment while he was at the Mendocino County Jail.[1] Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff filed an opposition, and Defendants filed a reply brief. For the reasons discussed below, the motion for summary judgment is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART and Defendants are directed to notify the Court whether they wish to participate in mediation proceedings.


         A. Undisputed Facts

         The parties do not dispute the following facts.

         An altercation took place between Plaintiff and Defendants Deputy S. Siderakis and Deputy J. Woida in Plaintiff's isolation cell on January 1, 2016. At approximately 7:30 p.m., Woida and Siderakis came into his cell for an inspection. (Pl. Opp.[2] (ECF No. 31) at 2; Decl. Woida ¶ 2.) Plaintiff was sleeping, and one of the deputies[3] handed Plaintiff some papers from the window sill where they were not permitted. (Opp. at 2; Decl. Woida ¶ 4; Siderakis Decl. ¶ 3.) Plaintiff exchanged hostile words with the deputies, who then left the cell and closed the door behind them. (Opp. at 2; Siderakis Decl. ¶ 4.) Plaintiff stood up out of his bed, looked at them through a window out into the hallway, and asked them what the problem was. (Opp. at 2; Siderakis Decl. ¶ 6; Woida Decl. ¶ 5.) Woida reopened the door and stood in the doorway with Siderakis next to him, and Plaintiff told them to stay out of his cell. (Opp. at 2-3; Woida Decl. ¶¶ 5-6; Siderakis ¶¶ 6-7.) When Woida came in the cell, Plaintiff punched him in the face once, and then Siderakis and Woida each punched Plaintiff in the face. (Opp. at 3; Woida Decl. ¶ 9; Siderakis Decl. ¶¶ 9-10.) Plaintiff continued to throw punches as Woida and Siderakis pushed him against the rear wall of his cell and each punched Plaintiff in the face again. (Opp. at 3; Woida Decl. ¶ 9; Siderakis Decl. ¶ 10.) Woida grabbed Plaintiff around the legs. (Opp. at 3-4; Siderakis Decl. ¶ 10.) Backup officers were summoned and arrived at the cell. (Woida Decl. ¶ 10.) Siderakis then wrapped Plaintiff around the head with his arm and took him to the ground away from the wall. (Opp. at 4; Siderakis Decl. ¶ 10.) Once Plaintiff was on the ground, Siderakis controlled Plaintiff's upper body, Woida controlled Plaintiff's legs, and an unnamed deputy handcuffed Plaintiff's wrists. (Opp. at 4; Woida Decl. ¶ 11.) Woida put Plaintiff in a “figure four leg lock” and shackled his ankles. (Woida Decl. ¶ 11.)

         Plaintiff was escorted to a “safety cell” where he was examined by a nurse. (Opp. at 5; Woida Decl. ¶ 13; Siderakis Decl. ¶ 14.) His face was swollen and bruised, his nose was bleeding, and his ankle was swollen and caused him to limp for several days. (Opp. at 5, Exh. G; Teske Decl. Exhs. A, B; Woida Decl. ¶ 14; Siderakis Decl. ¶ 14.) The nurse did not provide him with any medical treatment. (Opp. at 5; Teske Decl. Exh. A.) That night he could not sleep because of the pain. (Opp. at 5.) Three days later he was examined again, and he was prescribed ibuprofen for his swollen and painful ankle. (Teske Decl. Exh. B.)

         At subsequent disciplinary proceedings, jail officials found assault charges against Plaintiff “unfounded.” (Opp. Exh. A.)[4]

B. Disputed Facts

         The evidence presented by the parties differs in the following respects.

         According to Plaintiff, over the course of several months prior to the altercation, Siderakis would stand outside Plaintiff's cell door and insult and threaten to hurt him. (Opp. at 2.) During this time period, Plaintiff had also seen Deputy Woida attack other inmates and Woida had challenged Plaintiff to a fight. (Id.) Plaintiff states that when Woida and Siderakis came into his cell on January 1, 2016, Woida said, “I'm in your cell, what are you gonna do now?” and “We give the orders this is our house, bitch.” (Id.) According to Plaintiff, when the deputies left the cell, they closed the door completely. (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff also states that he threw the first punch only after Woida said, “What are you going to do about it?” and “made his move towards me in a spring.” (Id.) Plaintiff states that as he backed up, he slipped on a small floor towel and “covered up, ” but Woida and Siderakis “repeatedly kept punching” him. (Id. at 3-4.) After Siderakis took Plaintiff to the ground, Siderakis and Woida pinned his hands and feet, allowing Siderakis to punch him in the face, forehead, side of the head, and shoulders over 24 times while Plaintiff tried to move his head and slip his arms out to protect himself. (Id. at 4.) Woida twisted one of Plaintiff's ankles until Plaintiff felt his muscles tear, and Plaintiff “jerked back.” (Id.) After he was handcuffed, he was punched two more times in the face, and Siderakis kneed him in the head ten times. (Id.)

         Plaintiff states that in addition to his ankle and face injuries, he suffered from concussion symptoms including an inability to focus. (Id. at 5.) According to Plaintiff, when he was in the safety cell, the medical staff told him that Sergeant Bohner had told them to refuse to treat him. (Id.) Bohner arrived and gave him a paper towel and exchanged Plaintiff's bloody shirt for a clean jumpsuit. (Id.) Plaintiff's head started to hurt more, and he could not focus. (Id. at 6.) He was returned to his isolation cell, where a nurse told him that his ankle was “bad” but on Bohner's orders he could not provide ice, a wrap, or any medical treatment. (Id.)

         Defendants' account differs in that they state that the cell door was not all the way closed when they left, and Woida reopened the door because he and Siderakis could not hear what Plaintiff said to them. (Woida Decl. ¶ 5; Siderakis Decl. ¶ 6.) Defendants also state that Plaintiff then took an “aggressive fighting stance towards” them, threatened them, and did not heed their orders to sit back down. (Woida Decl. ¶¶ 6-7; Siderakis Decl. ¶¶ 7-8.) Instead, Plaintiff put up his fists and rocked back and forth, and again refused orders to get down. (Woida Decl. ¶ 8; Siderakis ¶ 9.) Defendants state that they each punched Plaintiff twice in the face while he was standing and before he was restrained, and they do not admit to punching Plaintiff any further, or to kicking him, kneeing him or twisting his ankle. (Woida Decl. ¶¶ 9-12; Siderakis Decl. ¶¶ 9-11.) After Plaintiff was under control, he told the deputies that he knew where they lived and would kill their families. (Woida Decl. ¶ 12; Siderakis Decl. ¶ 11.) ...

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