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York v. Garcia

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 27, 2019

G. GARCIA, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Reginald Ray York is a state prisoner appearing pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         Currently before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Court recommends that both Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment be denied.

         I. Procedural Background

         This action is proceeding on Plaintiff's complaint, filed on December 7, 2015, against Defendant Garcia for excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment, against Defendant Neighbors for failure to protect Plaintiff from the excessive use of force in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and against Defendants Garcia and Neighbors for failure to decontaminate Plaintiff's cell in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (ECF Nos. 1, 17.)

         On March 10, 2017, Defendants Garcia and Neighbors filed answer to Plaintiff's complaint. (ECF No. 20.) On March 16, 2017, the Court issued the discovery and scheduling order. (ECF No. 21.)

         On July 17, 2018, the Court granted Defendants' motion to modify the discovery and scheduling order and extended the deadline for filing a dispositive motion until October 22, 2018. (ECF No. 60.)

         As previously stated, on December 3, 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 64.)

         On December 18, 2018, the District Judge issued an order granting in part Defendants' motion for sanctions and denying Plaintiff's motion for sanctions. (ECF No. 66.) The District Judge imposed an evidentiary sanction on Plaintiff and ordered that Plaintiff is prohibited from supporting his case or opposing Defendants' defenses with any evidence that Plaintiff had not already disclosed to Defendants. (Id.)

         On December 20, 2018, the Court issued another order amending the discovery and scheduling order. (ECF No. 67.) In that order, the Court extended the dispositive motion deadline until February 4, 2019, and deemed Plaintiff's motion timely filed. (Id.) Further, the Court extended Defendants' time to file an opposition to Plaintiff's summary judgment until February 4, 2019. (Id.)

         On February 4, 2019, Defendants filed an opposition to Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, as well as their own motion for partial summary judgment.[1] (ECF Nos. 68, 69.)

         On February 21, 2019, Plaintiff filed a reply to his motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 70.) On February 28, 2019, Defendants filed a reply to their motion for partial summary judgment. (ECF No. 71.) Also, on February 28, 2019, Plaintiff filed an opposition to Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment. (ECF No. 72.)

         On March 7, 2019, Defendants filed a motion to strike Plaintiff's opposition to Defendant's motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 73.) On March 18, 2019, the Court denied Defendants' motion to strike Plaintiff's February 28, 2019 opposition, but granted Defendants leave to file a supplemental reply within seven days. (ECF No. 74.) On March 22, 2019, Defendants filed their supplemental reply. (ECF No. 74.)

         Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment are deemed submitted for review, without oral argument. Local Rule 230(1).

         II. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate when the pleadings, disclosure materials, discovery, and any affidavits provided establish 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). A material fact is one that may affect the outcome of the case under the applicable law. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute is genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable [trier of fact] could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.

         The party seeking summary judgment “always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The exact nature of this responsibility, however, varies depending on whether the issue on which summary judgment is sought is one in which the movant or the nonmoving party carries the ultimate burden of proof. See Soremekun v. Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir. 2007). If the movant will have the burden of proof at trial, it must “affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party.” Id. (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323). In contrast, if the nonmoving party will have the burden of proof at trial, “the movant can prevail merely by pointing out that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Id.

         If the movant satisfies its initial burden, the nonmoving party must go beyond the allegations in its pleadings to “show a genuine issue of material fact by presenting affirmative evidence from which a jury could find in [its] favor.” F.T.C. v. Stefanchik, 559 F.3d 924, 929 (9th Cir. 2009) (emphasis omitted). “[B]ald assertions or a mere scintilla of evidence” will not suffice in this regard. Id. at 929; see also Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (“When the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56[], its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.”) (citation omitted). “Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no ‘genuine issue for trial.'” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (quoting First Nat'l Bank of Arizona v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968)).

         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 a summary judgment motion, “the court does not make credibility determinations or weigh conflicting evidence.” Soremekun, 509 F.3d at 984. Instead, “[t]he evidence of the [nonmoving party] is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in [its] favor.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. Inferences, however, are not drawn out of the air; the nonmoving party must produce a factual predicate from which the inference may reasonably be drawn. See Richards v. Nielsen Freight Lines, 602 F.Supp. 1224, 1244-45 (E.D. Cal. 1985), aff'd, 810 F.2d 898 (9th Cir. 1987).

         In arriving at these findings and recommendations, the Court 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.

         III. Discussion

         A. Evidentiary Objections

         1. Exhibit D of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment

         Defendants object to Exhibit D of Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, (ECF No. 64, at 46-50)[2], which are Plaintiff's medical records, on the grounds that the medical records are hearsay and are inadmissible without proper foundation and authentication under Federal Rule of Evidence 901. Additionally, Defendant asserts that the medical records contained in Exhibit D are irrelevant to Plaintiff's claims.

         Defendants' objections to Exhibit D are overruled. Initially, with regards to hearsay, at summary judgment, the focus is not on the “admissibility of the evidence's form, ” but rather on the “admissibility of its contents.” Fraser v. Goodale, 342 F.3d 1032, 1036-37 (9th Cir. 2003). With regards to lack of foundation and authentication, the fact that Plaintiff did not submit a Custodian of Records declaration is not fatal to the admissibility of Exhibit D. Defendants have made no showing that Plaintiff could not bring a qualified witness into court at trial to lay a foundation for and testify as to the medical records. JL Beverage Co., LLC v. Jim Beam Brands Co., 828 F.3d 1098, 1110 (9th Cir. 2016) (“[A]t summary judgment a district court may consider hearsay evidence submitted in an inadmissible form, so long as the underlying evidence could be provided in an admissible form at trial[.]”). Regardless, the Court's consideration of the records are not dispositive of the motion.

         With regards to relevancy, given the Court's duty to determine whether there exists a genuine dispute as to any material fact, objections to evidence as irrelevant are both unnecessary and unhelpful. See e.g., Carden v. Chenega Sec. & Protections Servs., LLC, No. CIV 2:09-1799 WBS CMK, 2011 WL 1807384, at *3 (E.D. Cal. May 10, 2011); Arias v. McHugh, No. CIV 2:09-690 WBS GGH, 2010 WL 2511175, at *6 (E.D. Cal. Jun. 17, 2010); Tracchia v. Tilton, No. CIV S-062919 GEB KJM P, ...

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