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McKinley v. Janda

United States District Court, S.D. California

October 30, 2019

TERRY McKINLEY, CDCR #C-94117 Plaintiff,
J.G. JANDA and B. HUGIE, Defendants.


          Hon. William Q. Hayes, Judge.

         Plaintiff Terry McKinley, a state prisoner currently housed at the California Health Care Facility in Stockton, California, is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 22.) He claims in count one that while incarcerated at Centinela State Prison (“Centinela”) in Imperial, California, he was subject to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment as a result of a Centinela policy of housing general population inmates like himself with unclassified transitional inmates in violation of a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) policy precluding such housing. (Id. at 3-4.[1]) He claims the policy caused him to be placed in administrative segregation for four months and lose 121 days of custody credits as a result of being found guilty of a prison disciplinary infraction for possession of marijuana belonging to an inmate who would not have been housed in his cell but for the violation of the housing policy. (Id.) In count two he claims his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment and his First Amendment right to petition for redress of grievances were violated when he was assaulted by other inmates after prison staff labeled him a “snitch” in retaliation for filing inmate grievances challenging the housing policy and his disciplinary infraction. (Id. at 5-6.)

         Currently pending is a Motion for Summary Judgment by Defendants Janda and Hugie, the only remaining Defendants in this action. (ECF No. 56.) Both seek summary judgment on count one contending: (1) there is no evidence they were personally involved in the alleged violations, (2) Plaintiff has not alleged a sufficiently serious deprivation of basic human needs to establish an Eighth Amendment violation, and (3) the claim is barred by the favorable termination requirement of Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) (if “a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence . . . the complaint must be dismissed unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has already been invalidated.”) (Id. at 6-9.) Defendant Janda alone moves for summary judgment on count two, contending there are no allegations he personally participated in the alleged constitutional violation and cannot be held liable in his supervisory capacity. (Id. at 9.) Plaintiff has filed an Opposition. (ECF No. 58.)

         For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.[2] This action will proceed on the only remaining count against the only remaining Defendant, count two against Defendant Hugie.

         I. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a Complaint on February 4, 2015, naming four Centinela employees as Defendants, Warden Miller, Deputy Warden Janda, and Correctional Officers Premdas and Hugie. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff filed the FAC, the operative pleading in this action, on July 24, 2017, naming the same Defendants. (ECF No. 22.) On August 7, 2018, the Court dismissed all claims against Defendants Miller and Premdas, leaving only Janda and Hugie as Defendants. (ECF No. 44.)

         Defendants Janda and Hugie filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment on August 12, 2019. (ECF No. 56.) Plaintiff filed an Opposition on September 5, 2019. (ECF No. 58.) Defendants have not filed a Reply.

         II. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff alleges that on March 25, 2013, during a search of his cell, marijuana was found in clothing left by another inmate in the area above his bunk. (ECF No. 22 at 3.) He claims the marijuana belonged to an inmate who was housed in his cell in violation of a CDCR policy precluding general population inmates such as himself from being housed with “unclassified transitional inmates, ” and, due to routine negligent violations of that policy at Centinela, his cell “had been a revolving door for unclassified transitional [inmates], the most recent of which departed just days prior to the search.” (Id. at 3-4.) As a result of the discovery of the marijuana, Plaintiff was placed in administrative segregation while the matter was investigated, where the conditions of confinement were by definition cruel and unusual because his placement there was unwarranted. (Id. at 4, 20.) Although he was initially charged with drug trafficking, the District Attorney declined to prosecute that charge and he was found guilty of possession of marijuana at a prison administrative disciplinary hearing. (Id. at 5, 22; ECF No. 56-2 at 7-8.) He was released back into the general population on July 25, 2013 after four months in administrative segregation, and was assessed a forfeiture of 121 days of good-time credits, a 90-day loss of visitation privileges followed by 90-days of non-contact visitation, a 30-day loss of afternoon yard privileges, and one year of random drug testing and substance abuse education programming. (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges that upon his release into the general population he “immediately felt tension” from other inmates and was approached by several inmates “who told him he had been labeled a ‘snitch' by staff due to his 602 appeal on the drug possession charge.” (ECF No. 22 at 5.) He states his “last cellmate confronted him on the recreation yard and said he'd been told (by staff) that Plaintiff tried to pin the marijuana charge on him.” (Id.) Plaintiff alleges Defendant Hugie spread rumors he was a snitch in retaliation for having filed inmate grievances exposing the unlawful housing policy and challenging his disciplinary proceeding. (Id.) When Plaintiff and another inmate asked Defendant Hugie “what was the deal with him spreading false rumors, ” Defendant Hugie allegedly replied: “It came from high up.” (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that about a year later he was placed in a cell with a “documented informant, ” was asked by other inmates to physically harm his new cellmate in order to clear his own reputation, and after he refused to do so he was attacked by other inmates on the recreation yard and suffered a head injury. (Id. at 6.) He claims the attack was the direct result of the slanderous, malicious, vindictive and sadistic behavior of Defendant Hugie and Centinela staff. (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges Defendant Janda, through his position of Deputy Warden, “was in charge of the supervision and discipline of all correction staff at Centinela State Prison. All infractions of professional and ethical conduct is a reflection of their training and his supervisory duties.” (Id. at 2.) He alleges the housing policy at Centinela was “authorized by the warden and her staff . . . thus making CRCD [and] Centinela State Prison in particular liable for the violation.” (Id. at 4.)

         III. Discussion

         Both Defendants seek summary judgment on count one on the basis that: (1) there are no allegations they were personally involved in the housing classification decisions or policies, (2) there are no allegations of objectively inhumane prison conditions necessary to support an Eighth Amendment claim, and (3) the claim is barred by Heck because success would necessarily invalidate the prison disciplinary finding of possession of marijuana and loss of 121 days of good-time credits. (ECF No. 56 at 6-9.) Defendant Janda alone seeks summary judgment on count two, contending there are no allegations he was personally involved in the alleged constitutional violations. (Id. at 9.)

         A. Legal Standards

         Defendants are entitled to summary judgment if they demonstrate “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party has the initial burden of showing summary judgment is proper “by showing the absence of a genuine issue as to any material fact.” Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970). Entry of summary judgment is appropriate “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. In such a situation, there can be ‘no genuine issue as to any material fact,' since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

         In order to avoid summary judgment, the nonmovant must present “specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986). The Court may not weigh evidence or make credibility determinations, and any inferences drawn from the underlying facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Id. at 255. The ...

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