United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
F. BRENNAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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.
The Facts Presented by the Parties
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.
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.,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Motion for Summary Judgment
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
Summary Judgment Standards
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 ...