Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Arellano v. Ojeda

United States District Court, S.D. California

December 2, 2019

RAUL ARELLANO, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
E. OJEDA, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON QUALIFIED IMMUNITY; [DOC. NO. 101] DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STRIKE [DOC. NO. 103]

          HON MICHAEL M. ANELLO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Raul Arellano, Jr., a state prisoner proceeding pro se, brings an Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, arising out of allegations that prison officials failed to adequately respond when his cell toilet clogged and overflowed over the course of a long weekend. Defendants O. Mack and L. Helmick move for summary judgment on the grounds that they are entitled to qualified immunity from suit. See Doc. No. 101. Plaintiff moves to strike Defendants' motion for summary judgment. See Doc. No. 103. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion to strike and GRANTS Defendants' motion for summary judgment.

         Background[1]

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff alleges that on or about April 17, 2014 through April 22, 2014, sewer water flowed out through the toilet in his cell, leaving up to three millimeters of sewer water on the floor, soaking his clothing, and making it difficult to eat or sleep due to the smell. See Doc. No. 13 at 3.[2] On Thursday, April 17, 2014, Plaintiff advised an unknown correctional officer of the issue. The unknown correctional officer told Plaintiff that a plumber would be called the next day. Id.

         According to Plaintiff, on Friday, April 18, 2014, while walking to the showers, he complained to Defendant Correctional Officer Mack about the clogged toilet, and asked for a plunger or to be switched to another cell. Plaintiff claims that he told Defendant Mack that the night watch officer had put Plaintiff on the list for a plumber, and asked Mack to check and see if a plumber had been called. According to Plaintiff, Defendant Mack told him that “he would see what he could do, ” but then did nothing. Id. at 4. According to Defendant Mack, however, “[a]t no point while working in that building on April 18, 2014, did I notice that inmate Arellano's toilet was clogged up and overflowing, or that there was sewage on his floor. I also did not notice any fluid coming out from under any cell door that day. I would have noticed any such condition during my rounds and reported it immediately.” Doc. No. 67-6 at 3 ¶ 5. Defendant Mack did not work any other shift during the events in question.

         Plaintiff further claims that on Saturday, April 19, 2014, an unknown correctional officer told him that a plumber would not be coming to fix his toilet over the weekend. Plaintiff then filled out a Form 22 “Inmate/Parole Request for Interview, Item or Service, ” and gave it to Defendant Correctional Officer Helmick the next day for delivery to Correctional Sergeant Ojeda. Plaintiff claims that he complained to Defendant Helmick regarding the conditions in his cell, and Defendant Helmick responded by telling Plaintiff to use his hands to unclog the toilet. See Doc. No. 87 at 3. According to Defendant Helmick, however, “[a]t no time was there any evidence that there was one inch of sewage in inmate Arellano's cell from April 17 to 22, 2014. There was no sewage smell in the building during the days I worked during that time period. Inmate Arellano never told me there was a sewage problem in his cell. He never asked for a cell change or for cleaning materials.” Doc. No. 67-5 at 5 ¶ 11.

         According to Plaintiff, on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, he unclogged the toilet using his hands and cleaned his cell using a twin-sized bed sheet and soap. Id.

         B. Procedural Background

         Based on these events, Plaintiff filed suit alleging that Correctional Officer Helmick, Correctional Officer Mack, and Correctional Sergeant Ojeda violated his Eighth Amendment rights, and seeking $5, 000, 000.00 in damages. On March 30, 2018, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. See Doc. No. 87. The Court determined that “[e]ven taking Plaintiff's version of events as true, the unsanitary conditions in his cell were not sufficiently severe or prolonged to rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment violation.” Id. at 9. In other words, the Court concluded that no reasonable jury could find that Plaintiff suffered an unconstitutional deprivation under the objective component of Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim. Once again taking the facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the Court assumed that Defendants were aware of the conditions in Plaintiff's cell, but further concluded that no reasonable jury could find that any of the defendants acted with the requisite intent necessary to find a constitutional violation. The Court directed the Clerk of Court to enter judgment in favor of Defendants. See Doc. No. 88. After unsuccessfully challenging the summary judgment order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), Plaintiff filed an appeal. See Doc. Nos. 90-92.

         On January 22, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the entry of judgment in favor of Defendants Mack and Helmick based on a “genuine dispute of material fact as to whether defendants [Mack and Helmick] knew of the sanitation issue and acted with deliberate indifference in failing to address it.” See Doc. No. 100 at 3. The Ninth Circuit remanded the case back to this Court for further proceedings. After spreading the circuit court's mandate, the Court sua sponte ordered Defendants Mack and Helmick to file a supplemental brief addressing whether they are entitled to qualified immunity from suit. In response, Defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment. See Doc. No. 101. In lieu of a response, Plaintiff filed a motion to strike Defendants' motion for summary judgment. See Doc. No. 103. Plaintiff challenges the Court's ability to raise the issue of qualified immunity sua sponte and argues Defendants may not have a third opportunity in this case to move for summary judgment.

         Legal Standard

         1. Summary Judgment

         “A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense - or the part of each claim or defense - on which summary judgment is sought. The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows 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). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of establishing the basis of its motion and of identifying the portions of the declarations, pleadings, and discovery that demonstrate absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). A fact is material if it could affect the outcome of the suit under applicable law. See Anderson v. Liberty ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.