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Simmons v. Grissom

United States District Court, E.D. California

November 21, 2017

GRISSOM, et al., Defendants.


         Plaintiff Christopher I. Simmons is appearing pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         Currently before the Court is Defendants Grissom, Keiley, Rients, and St. Lucia's motion for summary judgment, filed April 18, 2016.



         This action is proceeding against Defendants Grissom, Keiley and St. Lucia for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and against Defendant Rients for retaliation in violation of the First Amendment.



         Any party may move for summary judgment, and the Court shall grant summary judgment if the movant 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) (quotation marks omitted); Washington Mut. Inc. v. U.S., 636 F.3d 1207, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). Each party's position, whether it be that a fact is disputed or undisputed, must be supported by (1) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including but not limited to depositions, documents, declarations, or discovery; or (2) showing that the materials cited do not establish the presence or absence of a genuine dispute or that the opposing party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1) (quotation marks omitted). The Court may consider other materials in the record not cited to by the parties, but it is not required to do so. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3); Carmen v. San Francisco Unified Sch. Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1031 (9th Cir. 2001); accord Simmons v. Navajo Cnty., Ariz., 609 F.3d 1011, 1017 (9th Cir. 2010).

         In resolving cross-motions for summary judgment, the Court must consider each party's evidence. Johnson v. Poway Unified Sch. Dist., 658 F.3d 954, 960 (9th Cir. 2011). Plaintiff bears the burden of proof at trial, and to prevail on summary judgment, he must affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for him. Soremekun v. Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir. 2007). Defendants do not bear the burden of proof at trial and in moving for summary judgment, they need only prove an absence of evidence to support Plaintiff's case. In re Oracle Corp. Sec. Litig., 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010).

         In judging the evidence at the summary judgment stage, the Court does not make credibility determinations or weigh conflicting evidence, Soremekun, 509 F.3d at 984 (quotation marks and citation omitted), and it must draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and determine whether a genuine issue of material fact precludes entry of judgment, Comite de Jornaleros de Redondo Beach v. City of Redondo Beach, 657 F.3d 936, 942 (9th Cir. 2011) (quotation marks and citation omitted).

         In arriving at this recommendation, the Court has carefully reviewed and considered all arguments, points and authorities, declarations, exhibits, statements of undisputed facts and responses thereto, if any, objections, and other papers filed by the parties. Omission of reference to an argument, document, paper, or objection is not to be construed to the effect that this Court did not consider the argument, document, paper, or objection. This Court thoroughly reviewed and considered the evidence it deemed admissible, material, and appropriate.


         A. Summary of Plaintiff's Complaint[1]

         “Heat Risk” Allegations

         On June 24, 2006, Plaintiff filed a request “to provide adequate air circulation to prevent suffering a heat stroke.” (Compl. ¶ 29.) Plaintiff contends that he was identified as a “heat risk” patient and required monitoring. (Compl. ¶ 29.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants R. Grissom, P. Keiley, A. St. Lucia, and Doe Nurses 1-10 denied Plaintiff's requests for adequate air circulation, ice, cold showers and access to cold water which were necessary for Plaintiff's “heat risk.” (Compl. ¶ 46.) Plaintiff also contends that Defendants Does #1-10 and Defendant St. Lucia failed to monitor the temperature for Plaintiff on July 20, 2006. (Compl. ¶ 29.) Plaintiff also contends that he was denied access to cold water or ice and was locked in his cell without air during a heat wave. (Compl. ¶ 29.)

         Pain Medication Allegations

         On July 28, 2006, Defendant Akanno violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights when he “denied the benefits of hot packs for PLAINTIFF's serious medical needs, and based that decision on PLAINTIFF not being granted an “extra privilege.” (First Am. Compl. ¶ 20.)

         On October 25, 2006, Defendant M. Rients “interfered with PLAINTIFF's prescribed medications for his severe debilitating pain, causing PLAINTIFF to unnecessarily suffer severe debilitating pain the entire night without pain medications. (Compl. 23.)

         On August 22, 2007, Defendant Akanno “conspired to cover-up the illegal actions of Sauceda when Defendant Akanno changed the medical order from every eight hours to BID or every 12 hours ... despite PLAINTIFF's specific requested action not to change the medical order as a reprisal, violating PLAINTIFF's 1st Amendment right.” (Compl. ¶ 32.) Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding his medication. (Compl. ¶ 33.)

         Retaliation Allegations

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant M. Rients violated Plaintiff's First Amendment rights by retaliating against Plaintiff by issuing Plaintiff a rule violation report (“RVR”) after Plaintiff indicated that he was going to file a staff misconduct complaint. (Compl. ¶ 24.) Plaintiff also contends that Rients “rushed in PLAINTIFF's cell to forcibly take a paper envelop[e] PLAINTIFF had waiting for T. Ellstrom to return and PLAINTIFF could obtain her name not displayed as required by policy.” (Compl. ¶ 24.)

         B. Statement of Undisputed Facts[2]

         1. Plaintiff is prescribed medications that make him susceptible to heat. This susceptibility to heat has caused him to be identified as a “heat risk” inmate. (First Am. Compl., February 17, 2012, ECF No. 24, p. 9-10, ¶¶ 45-46; Samson Decl., ¶ 3 [Simmons Dep. 23:24-25; 24:1-15].)

         2. At all times relevant to the claims in his complaint, Plaintiff was housed in A Facility, Building 1, Section B, in Cell 113, at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP). (Samson Decl., ¶ 3 [Simmons Dep. 20:19-25; 21:1-20]; Grissom Decl., ¶ 4; Keiley Decl., ¶ 4; Hancock Decl., ¶ 6.)

         3. On June 24, 2006, Plaintiff filed an emergency CDCR 602 administrative grievance, alleging that his cell was 105 degrees and that he was not receiving adequate air circulation, exposing him to the risk of heat stroke due to his “Heat Risk” status. Plaintiff requested that the ventilation problem be corrected and to be provided with ice.[3] (ECF No. 24, p. 6, ¶ 29; Samson Decl., ¶ 3 [Simmons Dep. 35:9-12]; Defs.' Ex. 1.)

         4. By Plaintiff's own admission, he did not have a thermometer in his cell. (Samson Decl., ¶ 3 [Simmons Dep. 43:17-25; 44:1-6].)

         5. Because Plaintiff's administrative grievance concerned a request for maintenance repairs, the appeals office referred the appeal to Defendant Keiley, the KVSP Correctional Plant Manager II, and Defendant Grissom, the Associate of Business Services, to provide a response at the first level of review. (Keiley Decl., ¶¶ 3, 5; Grissom Decl., ¶¶ 2-3, 5; Defs.' Ex. 1.)

         6. In response to Plaintiff's administrative grievance, Defendant Keiley, requested that the KVSP Chief Engineer, Defendant St. Lucia, investigate Plaintiff's allegations. ...

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