United States District Court, E.D. California
KASEY F. HOFFMANN, Plaintiff,
KEVIN JONES, Defendant.
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. His complaint
concerns events that occurred while he was a pretrial
detainee at the Lassen County Jail.
has filed a motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 40. For the
reasons that follow, the motion must be granted.
action involves a jail policy requiring inmates to obtain
permission before corresponding with other Jail inmates.
Plaintiff alleges that defendant Jones, the Captain of the
Lassen County Jail (“the Jail”), violated his
First Amendment rights when he refused to allow plaintiff, an
inmate at the Jail, to correspond with Casey Simoni, who was
also incarcerated at the Jail. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff alleges
that he had a son with Simoni, that county protective
services had taken the child, and that plaintiff wanted to
write to Simoni to “maintain family ties as well as
knowing how my son is doing, health, needs, pictures.”
Id. at 3. An exhibit attached to the complaint shows
that plaintiff filed an “inmate request form” on
July 6, 2015 asking to communicate with Simoni. Id.
at 5. Jail staff responded, “Please coordinate through
CFS [Child and Family Services].” Id.
Plaintiff alleges that this response violates his First
Amendment right of freedom of speech. Id. at 3. He seeks
an injunction ordering defendant to allow such correspondence
and monetary damages. Id.
The Parties' Factual Contentions and Evidence
parties do not dispute most of the facts underlying this
case. Instead, the dispute centers on whether those facts
give rise to a viable First Amendment claim. Where a genuine
dispute exists about a fact, the court will so
was incarcerated at the Jail for most of 2015. ECF No. 41-1,
Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ISO Mot. for Summ.
J. (hereinafter “DUF”), Fact No. 1. In May of
2015, Casey Simoni, the mother of plaintiff's infant son,
was also booked into the Jail. DUF Nos. 2-4. Defendant was
the Custody Commander of the Jail. ECF No. 42, Decl. of Kevin
Jones, at ¶ 2. At that time, the Jail enforced a policy
requiring inmates to obtain permission before corresponding
with other Jail inmates. ECF No. 42 at ¶ 5. Plaintiff
asked for permission to write to Simoni “in order to
facilitate family ties, and create a parenting
program.” DUF No. 5; ECF No. 46 at 86. Simoni told Jail
staff that she did not want to communicate with plaintiff,
except through Child and Family Services. DUF No. 6; ECF No.
42-1, Simoni Dep., at 48-49; ECF No. 46 at 88. She did so
because plaintiff “had made hurtful statements about my
case and made accusations towards me, that co-parenting was
no longer going to be an idea. He made very clear if, in
fact, he was able to get full custody of my son, that would
be it and he would be taking my son to Montana and I would
not see him anymore.” ECF No. 42-1 at 46.
denied plaintiff permission to write to Simoni, “mainly
because Simoni did not want to correspond with
Plaintiff.” DUF No. 8; ECF No. 42 at ¶ 12.
However, Jones offered plaintiff the alternative of
communicating with Simoni regarding their son through the
social workers at Child and Family Services. ECF No. 42 at
¶ 12. Plaintiff did not do so because, he says, that
would have acknowledged “that [using that alternative]
was preserving his freedom of speech right which it was
not.” ECF No. 46 at 65. As plaintiff explains it,
“communicating by way of [a] third party is not the
retention of plaintiff's first amendment rights; freedom
of expression dose [sic] not say freedom of expression by way
of third party, nor dose [sic] free speech say out of someone
else's mouth.” ECF No. 46 at 32-33. Plaintiff also
asserts that he did not use the alternative offered by Jones
because he was worried that Simoni might confide something in
the communication that, if revealed to Child and Family
Services, would hurt her court case (which related to her
treatment of their son). ECF No. 46 at 65.
The Motion for Summary Judgment
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 F.3d 1468,
1471-72 (9th Cir. 1994). At bottom, a summary judgment motion
asks whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement
to require submission to a jury.
principal purpose of Rule 56 is to isolate and dispose of
factually unsupported claims or defenses. Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Thus, the rule
functions to “‘pierce the pleadings and to assess
the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for
trial.'” Matsushita Elec. Indus. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e) advisory committee's note on 1963
amendments). Procedurally, under summary judgment practice,
the moving party bears the initial responsibility of
presenting the basis for its motion and identifying those
portions of the record, together with affidavits, if any,
that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323;
Devereaux v. Abbey, 263 F.3d 1070, 1076 (9th Cir.
2001) (en banc). If the moving party meets its burden with a
properly supported motion, the burden then shifts to the
opposing party to present specific facts that show there is a
genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e);
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Auvil v. CBS
“60 Minutes”, 67 F.3d 816, 819 (9th Cir.
focus on where the burden of proof lies as to the factual
issue in question is crucial to summary judgment procedures.
Depending on which party bears that burden, the party seeking
summary judgment does not necessarily need to submit any
evidence of its own. When the opposing party would have the
burden of proof on a dispositive issue at trial, the moving
party need not produce evidence which negates the
opponent's claim. See, e.g., Lujan v. National
Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 885 (1990). Rather,
the moving party need only point to matters which demonstrate
the absence of a genuine material factual issue. See
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24 (“[W]here the
nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial on a
dispositive issue, a summary judgment motion may properly be
made in reliance solely on the ‘pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file.'”). 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 id. at 322. In such a
circumstance, summary judgment must be granted, “so
long as whatever is before the district court demonstrates
that the standard for entry of summary judgment, as set forth
in Rule 56(c), is satisfied.” Id. at 323.
defeat summary judgment the opposing party must establish a
genuine dispute as to a material issue of fact. This entails
two requirements. First, the dispute must be over a fact(s)
that is material, i.e., one that makes a difference in the
outcome of the case. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248
(“Only disputes over facts that might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly
preclude the entry of summary judgment.”). Whether a
factual dispute is material is determined by the substantive
law applicable for the claim in question. Id. If the
opposing party is unable to produce evidence sufficient to
establish a required element of its claim that party fails in
opposing summary judgment. “[A] complete failure of
proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving
party's case necessarily renders all other facts
immaterial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.
the dispute must be genuine. In determining whether a factual
dispute is genuine the court must again focus on which party
bears the burden of proof on the factual issue in question.
Where the party opposing summary judgment would bear the
burden of proof at trial on the factual issue in dispute,
that party must produce evidence sufficient to support its
factual claim. Conclusory allegations, unsupported by
evidence are insufficient to defeat the motion. Taylor v.
List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Rather, the
opposing party must, by affidavit or as otherwise provided by
Rule 56, designate specific facts that show there is a
genuine issue for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249;
Devereaux, 263 F.3d at 1076. More significantly, to
demonstrate a genuine factual dispute, the evidence relied on
by the opposing party must be such that a fair-minded jury
“could return a verdict for [him] on the evidence
presented.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 252.
Absent any such evidence there simply is no reason for trial.
court does not determine witness credibility. It believes the
opposing party's evidence, and draws inferences most
favorably for the opposing party. See id. at 249,
255; Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. Inferences,
however, are not drawn out of “thin air, ” and
the proponent must adduce evidence of a factual predicate
from which to draw inferences. Am. Int'l Group, Inc.
v. Am. Int'l Bank, 926 F.2d 829, 836 (9th Cir. 1991)
(Kozinski, J., dissenting) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S.
at 322). If reasonable minds could differ on material facts
at issue, summary judgment is inappropriate. See Warren
v. City of Carlsbad, 58 F.3d 439, 441 (9th Cir. 1995).
On the other hand, the opposing party “must do more
than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to
the material facts . . . . Where the record taken as a whole
could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
nonmoving party, there is no ‘genuine issue for
trial.'” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587
(citation omitted). In that case, the court must grant
with the motion for summary judgment, defendant advised
plaintiff of the requirements for opposing a motion pursuant
to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. ECF No.
41; see Woods v. Carey, 684 F.3d 934 (9th Cir.
2012); Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir.
1998) (en banc), cert. ...