United States District Court, E.D. California
KASEY F. HOFFMANN, Plaintiff,
LASSEN COUNTY, et al., Defendants.
ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
DEBORAH BARNES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis
with a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff alleges defendants interfered with his right to
marry. Before the court are both parties' motions for
summary judgment, plaintiff's motion to strike his
deposition from the evidence in this case, and
plaintiff's motion to hold defendants in contempt and for
sanctions. For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned
will dismiss plaintiff's motion to strike as unnecessary
and deny plaintiff's motion to hold defendants in
contempt and for sanctions. In addition, the undersigned will
recommend plaintiff's motion for summary judgment be
denied and defendants' motion be granted.
Allegations in the Complaint
case is proceeding on plaintiff's complaint filed here on
June 30, 2015. (ECF No. 1.) Defendants are Lassen County and
Lassen County Clerk-Recorder Julie Bustamante. In the spring
of 2015, plaintiff was incarcerated at the Lassen Adult
Detention Facility (“Jail”). At that time,
plaintiff wrote the Lassen County Clerk-Recorder to request
an application for a marriage license. Plaintiff planned to
marry fellow Jail inmate Dena Adams. Plaintiff received a
letter dated May 7, 2015 from a deputy clerk in the Office of
the Lassen County Clerk-Recorder. Plaintiff attached a copy
of the letter to his complaint. The letter informed plaintiff
that the deputy clerk was unable to provide plaintiff a
marriage application because “[w]hen purchasing a
marriage license in Lassen County, both parties must be
physically present to sign the marriage license in our office
and to provide a valid form of identification.” (ECF
No. 1 at 4.)
November 14, 2016, defendants answered the complaint. (ECF
No. 28.) On November 21, the court issued a Discovery and
Scheduling Order setting a deadline of March 10, 2017 for
discovery and June 2, 2017 for pretrial motions. (ECF No.
March 13, 2017, plaintiff filed a motion to compel. (ECF No.
March 20, 2017, plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment
(ECF No. 32) and on April 28, defendants filed a motion for
summary judgment (ECF No. 36).
26, 2017, the court granted in part plaintiff's motion to
compel. The court required defendants to provide plaintiff
with responses to certain deposition questions as though
those questions had been propounded as interrogatories.
May 26, plaintiff filed two motions. First, he filed a motion
to strike his deposition transcript from the evidence
available on summary judgment. (ECF No. 45.) Second,
plaintiff filed a motion to hold defendants in contempt and
for sanctions. (ECF No. 46.) Plaintiff contends defendants
failed to properly notify plaintiff that his deposition would
relate to this case.
on June 15, 2017, plaintiff filed a motion to compel
defendants to comply with the May 26 order. (ECF No. 50.)
Because defendants submitted a timely response to plaintiff
pursuant to the May 26 order, the court denied
plaintiff's motion. (ECF No. 55.) The court then gave
plaintiff an opportunity to file a supplement to his
opposition to defendant's summary judgment motion based
on the new discovery responses. Plaintiff has not filed a
supplemental opposition brief.
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
on the material evidence presented in connection with the
pending cross-motions for summary judgment, and for the
reasons stated below, the undersigned concludes that
plaintiff's motion for summary judgment should be denied,
and defendants' motion for summary judgment should be
granted. The undisputed material facts do not show that
defendant Bustamante acted to interfere with plaintiff's
right to marry and that defendant Lassen County had a policy
or custom to interfere with inmates' right to
marry. Further, plaintiff fails to present
evidence establishing that there are genuine issues of
material fact with regard to the liability of defendants.
Summary Judgment Standards under Rule 56
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, the
moving party “initially bears the burden of proving the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” In re
Oracle Corp. Sec. Litigation, 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)(A), (B).
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 nonmoving 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. See 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. In such a circumstance, summary judgment should
be granted, “so long as whatever is before the district
court demonstrates that the standard for entry of summary
judgment . . . is satisfied.” Id. at 323.
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. See
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475
U.S. 574, 586 (1986). In attempting to establish the
existence of this factual dispute, the opposing party
typically 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)(1);
Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586 n.11. 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, see 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, see Wool v.
Tandem Computers, Inc., 818 F.2d 1433, 1436 (9th Cir.
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 631.
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 (citations omitted).
evaluating the evidence to determine whether there is a
genuine issue of fact, ” the court draws “all
reasonable inferences supported by the evidence in favor of
the non-moving party.” Walls v. Central Contra
Costa Transit Auth., 653 F.3d 963, 966 (9th Cir. 2011).
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, 602 F.Supp.
1224, 1244-45 (E.D. Cal. 1985), aff'd, 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. . . . Where the record ...