United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
DEBORAH BARNES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis
with a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff alleges use of the Guard One security check system
when he was incarcerated at the California Correctional
Institution (“CCI”) violated his Eighth Amendment
rights. Recently, this court asked the parties for their
positions on a stay pending resolution of the interlocutory
appeal in a related case. Defendant states that a stay is
appropriate. Plaintiff opposes a stay. For the reasons set
forth below, this court will recommend a stay of these
proceedings pending the Ninth Circuit's resolution of the
defendants' interlocutory appeal in Rico v.
Beard, No. 2:17-cv-1402 KJM DB P.
is currently incarcerated at Salinas Valley State Prison. The
events complained of occurred when he was incarcerated at CCI
in 2014 and 2015. This case is proceeding on plaintiff's
first amended complaint filed here on July 1, 2016. (ECF No.
alleges that starting on May 30, 2014, defendant, CCI Warden
Holland, implemented security checks in the administrative
segregation unit (“ASU”) at CCI using the Guard
One system. Under the Guard One system, every “5, 10,
15, 20 minutes - 24-hours a day, ” correctional
officers used a metal bar to loudly bang and hit another
metal object on inmates' cell doors which let out a
“loud beep or whistle.” Plaintiff contends he
complained to defendant that the excessive noise caused by
use of the Guard One system was causing him sleep
deprivation. However, defendant failed to take measures to
ameliorate the problem.
moved to dismiss the first amended complaint on the grounds
that she is protected by qualified immunity. (ECF No. 22.)
That motion was denied. (ECF No. 26.) Defendant then moved
for judgment on the pleadings on the same grounds. (ECF No.
46.) The court denied that motion as well. (ECF No. 65.)
Pending before the court is defendant's motion for
summary judgment. (ECF No. 68.) In that motion defendant
argues, among other things, that she is entitled to qualified
immunity. The court has not yet addressed that motion.
2018, the court related the present case to several other
cases challenging the use of the Guard One security system in
the California prisons. (See ECF No. 55.) On March
5, 2019, in Rico, the court held that qualified
immunity protected the high level supervisory defendants from
suit but that the remaining defendants, those who reviewed
the plaintiff's appeals and those who conducted the
security tests, were not so protected. See No.
2:17-cv-1402 KJM DB P (ECF No. 102). The defendants remaining
in that case then filed an interlocutory appeal. Id.
(ECF No. 103). On appeal, they argue that the district court
erred in denying them qualified immunity. See
Appellants' Mediation Questionnaire, Rico v. Ducart,
et al., No. 19-15541 (9th Cir. Mar. 29, 2019). The
Rico appeal remains pending in the Ninth Circuit.
2019, this court ordered the parties to file statements
regarding the propriety of a stay of these proceedings
pending the Ninth Circuit's decision in Rico.
(ECF No. 77.) Defendant responded that a stay is appropriate.
(ECF No. 78.) Plaintiff opposes a stay. (ECF No. 79.)
power to stay proceedings “is incidental to the power
inherent in every court to control the disposition of the
cases on its docket with economy of time and effort for
itself, for counsel, and for litigants.” Landis v.
North Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936). In evaluating
whether to stay proceedings, the court balances competing
interests and should consider: (1) potential prejudice to
either party if the case is stayed or if it is not; and (2)
the judicial resources that would be saved by avoiding
duplicative litigation. Adkins v. J.B. Hunt Transp.,
Inc., 293 F.Supp.3d 1140, 1150 (E.D. Cal. 2018)
(citations omitted); see also Landis, 299 U.S. at
254-55; CMAX, Inc. v. Hall, 300 F.2d 265, 268 (9th
only argument that a stay is inappropriate is that defendant
is not entitled to qualified immunity. Plaintiff does not
argue that he will suffer any potential hardship or prejudice
if the case is temporarily stayed. He seeks only money
damages in his suit and courts have held that the delayed
reception of ordinary money damages is not the type of
potential damage that courts consider weighty when
considering a stay. See I.K. ex rel. E.K. v. Sylvan Union
Sch. Dist., 681 F.Supp.2d 1179, 1191 (E.D. Cal. 2010)
(citing Lockyer v. Mirant Corp., 398 F.3d 1098, 1110
(9th Cir. 2005)). In addition, plaintiff should not suffer
prejudice in conducting factfinding because the parties have
completed discovery and the case is awaiting a ruling on
defendant's motion for summary judgment on the merits of
Ninth Circuit's ruling in Rico could very well
affect the issues herein. Some of the remaining defendants in
Rico are those who reviewed plaintiff Rico's
administrative appeals. Rico contends they were aware of the
sleep deprivation caused by use of the Guard One system and
failed to take any actions to remedy it. In the present case,
plaintiff's allegations against defendant Holland are
similar. He contends she was aware of the sleep deprivation
he suffered through use of the Guard One system and that she
failed to remedy the problem. Therefore, the Ninth
Circuit's ruling on the qualified immunity issue in the
Rico would very likely be relevant to the
proceedings in the present case.
both parties will be prejudiced if litigation proceeds and,
later in this case, the Ninth Circuit rules that the
defendants in Rico who reviewed appeals are entitled
to qualified immunity. That ruling could require dismissal of
plaintiff s action against defendant Holland. In that event,
both parties will have spent time and resources
unnecessarily. In addition, the court's limited resources
will have ...