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Jenkins v. Bonds

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 31, 2017

BONDS, Defendant.



         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in this action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendant moves for summary judgment, arguing that the undisputed facts show that he did not subject plaintiff to excessive force; that plaintiff suffered no injury; and that defendant is entitled to qualified immunity. ECF No. 40. For the following reasons, the motion must be denied.

         I. The Facts Presented by the Parties

         In his verified amended complaint, plaintiff alleges that on December 5, 2011, defendant Bond (sued herein as “Bonds”) used excessive force against him during a transport from the reception area at High Desert State Prison (“HDSP”) to his housing unit. ECF No. 14 at 3-4. Plaintiff avers that he is mobility-impaired and requires the use of a cane due to lifelong injuries. Id. at 3. Nevertheless, upon his reception at HDSP, a medical staff member told Bond that plaintiff was faking his injuries. Id. When plaintiff told Bond of his injuries and need of a cane, Bond replied that he knew plaintiff was faking and ordered him to get up and be handcuffed for transport. Id. Bond handcuffed plaintiff very tightly, twisting his right hand downward and left hand upward, causing severe pain. Id. Bond then snatched plaintiff upward with his right hand under plaintiff's shoulder, bending plaintiff over and dragging him the quarter mile to the housing unit in sub-freezing temperature. Id. at 3-4. This caused plaintiff severe pain in his wrist, arms, and back, which remained for three days. Id. Plaintiff told Bond that he was hurting plaintiff, but Bond told plaintiff he knew plaintiff was faking because the doctor had told him so. Id. at 4.

         A fellow inmate in the transport, Anthony Oliver, provided a sworn declaration which is appended to the amended complaint. Id. at 7. Oliver avers that he saw Bond snatch plaintiff by the right arm and drag him to make him walk faster. Id., ¶ 2. Plaintiff appeared to Oliver to be in pain and plaintiff told Bond so, but Bond responded to plaintiff that he was faking. Id. Bond told the other inmates in the transport that it was plaintiff's fault they had to wait longer in the cold weather. Id., ¶ 3. The temperature was about 15 degrees below zero. Id. Bond also applied cuffs excessively tight to Oliver and threatened him with physical violence when he complained about it. Id., ¶ 4. The walk to the housing unit took about 30 minutes. Id., ¶ 5.

         Defendant Bond declares that plaintiff told him at the beginning of the escort that he was covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, but Bond confirmed with medical staff that there were no limitations to plaintiff's housing or escort. ECF No. 40-5, ¶ 5-6. Bond thus believed that plaintiff could participate in the escort to his housing facility, a distance of about 150 yards. Id. Bond was obligated to follow the medical orders in place at the prison regardless of what plaintiff told him. Id. Bond ordered plaintiff three times to cuff up for escort, but plaintiff refused at least two of those orders. Id., ¶ 6. It is Bond's usual practice to slide a finger under the cuffs while tightening them to ensure they are secure but not overly tight. Id. Bond declares that he never snatched plaintiff but rather assisted him when he fell behind the other inmates. Id., ¶ 7. Bond denies that he threatened plaintiff. Id.

         S. Lopez, Chief Medical Executive at Kern Valley State Prison, reviewed plaintiff's medical records following December 5, 2011 at defense counsel's behest. ECF No. 40-6. Lopez “found that there were no diagnoses in plaintiff's history to tie any injury to a December 5, 2011 incident with Sergeant Bond.” Id., ¶ 7. No records show new injuries or that plaintiff's preexisting injuries were exacerbated. Id. Plaintiff's medical file did not contain any healthcare requests from plaintiff around December 5, 2011. Id., ¶ 8.

         Plaintiff testified at his deposition that he heard physician's assistant Miranda tell Bond prior to the transport that plaintiff had no injuries. ECF No. 41, Notice of Lodging Pl.'s Deposition (Pl.'s Dep.) at 20. He concedes that “Sergeant Bonds was under the actual belief, from what Mr. Miranda told him, that I was faking my injuries.” Id. at 55. Bond ordered plaintiff to cuff up many times and did not listen when plaintiff tried to explain his injuries. Id. at 22. Bond put the cuffs on so tight that plaintiff's wrist bulged, causing him pain. Id. at 31. The cuffs pinched plaintiff's skin and cut off his circulation, causing his hand to go numb. Id. Plaintiff told Bond the cuffs were too tight. Id. Plaintiff was at the back of the line of inmates being transported, with defendant lifting and dragging him, but plaintiff could not keep up. Id. at 32-33. Bond stopped the line, moved plaintiff to the front, and told the other inmates that they could blame plaintiff for the slow transport in the cold weather. Id.

         Plaintiff further testified that, as a result of Bond's conduct, his wrists became swollen and painful with red bruises. Id. at 35-36. Bond's transport made plaintiff's back very painful, with nerve pain shooting down his legs. Id. Plaintiff's existing condition did not cause that degree of throbbing pain. Id. at 37. Plaintiff verbally requested to see a doctor on either the evening of December 5th or December 6th but was denied. Id. at 41, 45. He saw a nurse about three days later and told her of his injuries but she purposefully wrote “no injuries” on the chart. Id. at 42-43, 50-51. Plaintiff did not contradict her because his injuries were healing and he assumed she was covering up for defendant Bond. Id. His wrist injuries healed in about a week, but his back injuries became worse as time progressed. Id. at 65-66. His medical records do not reflect these injuries because he was denied medical treatment continuously during his stay at HDSP. Id. at 82-83.

         Plaintiff also described the incident on December 8, 2011 in a videotaped “use of force” interview with a Lieutenant Albonico that defendant has lodged with the court. In the video, plaintiff describes some of his injuries, but none are visible to the camera.

         II. The Motion for Summary Judgment

         Defendant argues that the undisputed facts show that he did not subject plaintiff to excessive force, that plaintiff suffered no injury, and that he should be afforded qualified immunity. As discussed below, there are genuine disputes over material facts that preclude summary judgment in defendant's favor.

         A. Summary Judgment Standards

         Summary judgment is appropriate when 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). Summary judgment avoids unnecessary trials in cases in which the parties do not dispute the facts relevant to the determination of the issues in the case, or in which there is insufficient evidence for a jury to determine those facts in favor of the nonmovant. Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 600 (1998); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-50 (1986); Nw. Motorcycle Ass'n v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 18 ...

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