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Jackson v. Aviles

United States District Court, S.D. California

July 26, 2019

DUWAYNE JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
F. AVILES, et al ., Defendants.

         ORDER: (1) OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTION [ECF NO. 61]; (2) APPROVING AND ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION IN PART [ECF NO. 56]; (3) GRANTING DEFENDANT FINK'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF NO. 41]; AND (4) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF NO. 44]

          Hon. Cynthia Bashant United States District Judge

         Pro se inmate Plaintiff Duwayne Jackson claims that prison official Defendants Fink, F. Aviles, G. Mendoza, and C. Osgood violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights. (ECF No. 6, First. Am. Compl.) Defendant Fink moves for summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims on the grounds that (1) Plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies for his claims against Fink and (2) Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims against Fink fail on the merits in view of the undisputed evidence. (ECF No. 41.) Plaintiff cross-moves for summary judgment on his claims against all Defendants. (ECF No. 44.)

         On May 28, 2019, Magistrate Judge Barbara Major issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) that recommends granting Defendant Fink's motion for summary judgment based on Plaintiff's undisputed failure to exhaust administrative remedies against Fink and because the undisputed evidence shows that Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims against Fink fail as a matter of law. (ECF No. 56.) The R&R recommends denial of Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, partially incorporating the analysis on Fink's motion and otherwise concluding that there are genuine disputes of material fact for Plaintiff's claims against the remaining Defendants. (Id.) Upon Plaintiff's request to extend the deadline to file objections, objections to the R&R were due no later than July 19, 2019. (ECF No. 59.) Plaintiff timely filed an Objection. (ECF No. 61.) Attached to the Objection is a declaration from Plaintiff that restates his view of the facts underlying his claims. (Id. Jackson Decl.) Defendants have not objected to the R&R.

         For the reasons herein, the Court (1) overrules Plaintiff's Objection, (2) approves and adopts the R&R in part, (3) grants Defendant Fink's motion for summary judgment based on Plaintiff's failure to exhaust administrative remedies against Fink, and (4) denies Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment against the remaining Defendants.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The Court reviews de novo those portions of an R&R to which objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The Court may “accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” Id. “The statute makes it clear, ” however, “that the district judge must review the magistrate judge's findings and recommendations de novo if objection is made, but not otherwise.” United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc) (emphasis in original); see also Schmidt v. Johnstone, 263 F.Supp.2d 1219, 1226 (D. Ariz. 2003) (concluding that where no objections were filed, the district court had no obligation to review the magistrate judge's report). “Neither the Constitution nor the statute requires a district judge to review, de novo, findings and recommendations that the parties themselves accept as correct.” Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d at 1121. This legal rule is well-established in the Ninth Circuit and this district. See Wang v. Masaitis, 416 F.3d 992, 1000 n.13 (9th Cir. 2005) (“Of course, de novo review of a[n] R & R is only required when an objection is made to the R & R.”); Nelson v. Giurbino, 395 F.Supp.2d 946, 949 (S.D. Cal. 2005) (adopting report in its entirety without review because neither party filed objections to the report despite the opportunity to do so); see also Nichols v. Logan, 355 F.Supp.2d 1155, 1157 (S.D. Cal. 2004).

         To be effective, objections must be written and specific. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(2) (“[A] party may serve and file specific written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations” of the magistrate judge.) (emphasis added). In the absence of a specific objection, the court need only satisfy itself that there is no “clear error” on the face of the record before adopting the magistrate judge's recommendation. Singleton v. Hernandez, No. 16-cv-2462-BAS-NLS, 2019 WL 644101, at *17 (S.D. Cal. Feb. 16, 2019); Afrah v. Sidhu, No. 14-CV-02303-BAS-NLS, 2015 WL 8759131, at *1 (S.D. Cal. Dec. 14, 2015); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b) Advisory Comm. Notes (1983) (citing Campbell v. U.S. Dist. Court for N. Dist. of Cal., 501 F.2d 196, 206 (9th Cir. 1974)).

         DISCUSSION

         1. Defendant Fink's Motion for Summary Judgment

         Magistrate Judge Major recommends that the Court grant Defendant Fink's motion for summary judgment for two overarching reasons. (ECF No. 56 at 7-26.) First, the R&R recommends that the Court grant summary judgment for Defendant Fink on the merits of Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims against Fink, which largely concern Fink's role as the supervisor of Defendant F. Aviles-another Defendant who Plaintiff alleges engaged in certain underlying conduct that violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights.

         First, on the merits and with respect to Plaintiff's claim that Fink was “deliberately indifferent” to a danger Defendant Aviles allegedly posed to Plaintiff, the R&R finds that the undisputed evidence shows only that Fink was aware that Aviles had searched Plaintiff's prison cell two days before a March 31, 2017 incident in which Aviles allegedly taunted and threatened Plaintiff, and yanked and pulled on Plaintiff's wrist chains. (Id. at 10-11.) The R&R otherwise concludes that Plaintiff fails to provide any evidence that would permit the imposition of supervisory liability on Defendant Fink, including on the grounds that Defendant Fink (1) failed to train Defendant Aviles, (2) failed to supervise Defendant Aviles, (3) failed to investigate Defendant Aviles, (4) failed to discipline Defendant Aviles, or (5) otherwise maintained an allegedly unconstitutional policy that resulted in Plaintiff's alleged injuries. (Id. at 14-18.)

         Second, the R&R recommends that the Court grant summary judgment for Defendant Fink on the ground that the undisputed evidence shows that Plaintiff never exhausted administrative remedies against Fink in accordance with the Prison Litigation Reform Act's mandatory requirement that prisoners may not bring Section 1983 actions “with respect to prison conditions” in federal court “until such administrative remedies as are available, are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); (ECF No. 56 at 19-16). The R&R finds that although an administrative process exists at the prison where Plaintiff was incarcerated at the time of the alleged events and although Plaintiff submitted at least three grievances, Plaintiff never submitted a grievance against Fink or asserted misconduct by Fink in the grievances he did file.

         Although Plaintiff has filed an Objection, Plaintiff does not object to the vast majority of the R&R's findings and recommendations on Defendant Fink's motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 61.) Plaintiff objects solely to a “harmless error” in the R&R's analysis that “misinterpret[s] Plaintiff[']s pleadings” to state that “Defendant Aviles pretended to act as though he was mentally challenged near the small management yard located in front of Defendants Fink[']s office[.]” (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff objects that he “has never indicated that Defendant Fink's office is or was near the small management yard.” (Id.) As Plaintiff apparently ...


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