United States District Court, D. Nevada
JONATHAN E. WATKINS, Plaintiff,
JAMES STOGNER, et al., Defendants.
REPORT & RECOMMENDATION OF U.S. MAGISTRATE
WILLIAM G. COBB, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Report and Recommendation is made to the Honorable Miranda M.
Du, United States District Judge. The action was referred to
the undersigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B) and the Local Rules of Practice, LR 1B 1-4.
the court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.
(ECF Nos. 23, 23-1 to 23-12, ECF No. 26-1.) Plaintiff filed a
response (ECF No. 31), and Defendants filed a reply (ECF No.
thorough review, it is recommended that Defendants'
motion be granted.
is an inmate in the custody of the Nevada Department of
Corrections (NDOC), proceeding pro se with this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Am. Compl., ECF No. 7.)
The events giving rise to this action took place while
Plaintiff was housed at Northern Nevada Correctional Center
(NNCC). (Id.) Defendants are Isidro Baca and James
screening, Plaintiff was allowed to proceed with claims in
Count I for violation of his First Amendment free exercise
rights and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
Persons Act (RLUIPA) against Baca and Stogner, as well as a
claim in Count III that Stogner violated his rights under the
Equal Protection Clause. (Screening Order, ECF No. 8.) The
claims in Count I are based on allegations that Plaintiff is
Muslim, and while a holiday dinner meal is provided for Eid
al-Fitr, he was not provided the opportunity for community
prayer, khulba (sermon) by a minister, poetry reading, music
or guests, and that Defendants prevented outside Muslim
volunteers from assisting in supervising the special holiday
services. The equal protection claim in Count III is based on
allegations that Stogner discontinued contact with the Muslim
community representative, Mr. Perkins, because Mr. Perkins
was not Catholic or a representative of Stogner's
move for summary judgment, arguing there is no evidence
Defendants hindered Plaintiff's ability to participate in
Eid al-Fitr or that Stogner prevented Plaintiff from meeting
with Mr. Perkins.
purpose of summary judgment is to avoid unnecessary trials
when there is no dispute as to the facts before the
court." Northwest Motorcycle Ass'n v. U.S.
Dep't of Agric., 18 F.3d 1468, 1471 (9th Cir. 1994)
(citation omitted). In considering a motion for summary
judgment, all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the
non-moving party. In re Slatkin, 525 F.3d 805, 810
(9th Cir. 2008) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986)). "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). On the other hand, where reasonable minds could differ
on the material facts at issue, summary judgment is not
appropriate. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250.
asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must
support the assertion by:
(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record,
including depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations
(including those made for purposes of the motion only),
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the
absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse
party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A), (B).
party relies on an affidavit or declaration to support or
oppose a motion, it "must be made on personal knowledge,
set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show
that the affiant or declarant is competent to testify on the
matters stated." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4).
evaluating whether or not summary judgment is appropriate,
three steps are necessary: (1) determining whether a fact is
material; (2) determining whether there is a genuine dispute
as to a material fact; and (3) considering the evidence in
light of the appropriate standard of proof. See
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-250. As to materiality, only
disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of
summary judgment; factual disputes which are irrelevant or
unnecessary will not be considered. Id. at 248.
deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court applies a
burden-shifting analysis. "When the party moving for
summary judgment would bear the burden of proof at trial,
'it must come forward with evidence which would entitle
it to a directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted
at trial.'...In such a case, the moving party has the
initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine
[dispute] of fact on each issue material to its case."
C.A.R. Transp. Brokerage Co. v. Darden Rests., Inc.,
213 F.3d 474, 480 (9th Cir. 2000) (internal citations
omitted). In contrast, when the nonmoving party bears the
burden of proving the claim or defense, the moving party can
meet its burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence to
negate an essential element of the nonmoving party's
case; or (2) by demonstrating the nonmoving party failed to
make a showing sufficient to establish an element essential
to that party's case on which that party will bear the
burden of proof at trial. See Celotex Corp. v.
Cartrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-25 (1986).
moving party satisfies its initial burden, the burden shifts
to the opposing party to establish that a genuine dispute
exists as to a material fact. See Matsushita Elec. Indus.
Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). To
establish the existence of a genuine dispute of material
fact, the opposing party need not establish a genuine dispute
of material fact conclusively in its favor. It is sufficient
that "the claimed factual dispute be shown to require a
jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions
of the truth at trial." T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v.
Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th
Cir. 1987) (quotation marks and 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 (citation omitted). The
nonmoving party cannot avoid summary judgment by relying
solely on conclusory allegations that are unsupported by
factual data. Id. Instead, the opposition must go
beyond the assertions and allegations of the pleadings and
set forth specific facts by producing competent evidence that
shows a genuine dispute of material fact for trial.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324.
That being said,
[i]f a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact
or fails to properly address another party's assertion of
fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may: (1) give an
opportunity to properly support or address the fact; (2)
consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion; (3)
grant summary judgment if the motion and supporting
materials-including the facts considered ...