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Davis v. Robinson

United States District Court, D. Nevada

November 7, 2017

RODNEY DAVIS, Plaintiff,
ROBINSON, et al., Defendants.


         This 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 LR IB 1-4. Before the court is defendants' motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 35), plaintiffs cross-motion for summary judgment and opposition to defendants' motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 37), and defendants' reply (ECF No. 40). Having thoroughly reviewed the record and papers, the court hereby recommends that the defendants' motion for summary judgment be denied and that the plaintiffs cross-motion for summary judgment be denied.


         Rodney Davis ("plaintiff) is an inmate in the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections ("NDOC"). Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and proceeding pro se, plaintiff brings a civil rights action for events that occurred while he was in custody at Warm Springs Correctional Center ("WSCC").

         According to the complaint, the events giving rise to plaintiffs claims are as follows. Plaintiff has a "severe pre-existing medical condition" - a shoulder injury. (ECF No. 13 at 4.) On June 14, 2014, Correctional Officer William Holbert ("Holbert") and Correctional Officer Tim Robinson ("Robinson") ordered plaintiff and his cell mate out of their cell to conduct a cell search. (Id. at 5.) During the cell search, Plaintiff "inveighed [against] his personal property being thrown to the floor." (Id.) In response, Robinson ordered plaintiff to face the wall to be handcuffed. (Id.) Plaintiff "vehemently begged and pleaded" with Robinson to place the handcuffs in front of plaintiffs body to accommodate plaintiffs shoulder injury. (Id.) Plaintiff claims that he alerted Robinson to a medical order hanging on his cell wall that required plaintiff to be cuffed only in the front of his body. (Id.) Robinson disregarded the medical order and handcuffed plaintiff behind his back, which caused plaintiff "excruciating, torturous pain." (Id.) Additionally, plaintiff alleges that Robinson and Holbert pushed and pulled plaintiff when they escorted him from his cell to the administration building, which further aggravated plaintiff's shoulder. (Id. at 6.) Upon arriving at the administration offices, plaintiff told Sergeant Hardy ("Hardy") that he was in severe pain and that he had medical orders for the handcuffs to be placed in front of his body. (Id. at 7.) However, Hardy placed plaintiff in a small visiting cubicle where he had to wait for over an hour with his handcuffs behind his back. (Id.)

         On December 12, 2014, the District Court screened plaintiffs First Amended Complaint and permitted one count of Eighth Amendment excessive force to proceed against Robinson, Holbert, and Hardy. (ECF No. 15 at 5.) On December 13, 2016, the parties participated in a mediation session as part of the District of Nevada's early inmate mediation program, but did not settle. (ECF No. 19.) On June 28, 2017, defendants moved for summary judgment (ECF No. 35) and plaintiff filed a cross-motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 37). This recommended disposition follows.


         Summary judgment allows the court to avoid unnecessary trials. Nw. Motorcycle Ass 'n v. U.S. Dep't of Agric, 18 F.3d 1468, 1471 (9th Cir. 1994). The court properly grants summary judgment when the record demonstrates that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986). "[T]he substantive law will identify which facts are material. 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 that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute is "genuine" only where a reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party. Id. Conclusory statements, speculative opinions, pleading allegations, or other assertions uncorroborated by facts are insufficient to establish a genuine dispute. Soremekun v. Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir. 2007); Nelson v. Pima Cmty. Coll., 83 F.3d 1075, 1081-82 (9th Cir. 1996). At this stage, the court's role is to verify that reasonable minds could differ when interpreting the record; the court does not weigh the evidence or determine its truth. Schmidt v. Contra Costa Cnty., 693 F.3d 1122, 1132 (9th Cir. 2012); Nw. Motorcycle Ass 'n, 18 F.3d at 1472.

         Summary judgment proceeds in burden-shifting steps. A moving party who does not bear the burden of proof at trial "must either produce evidence negating an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim or defense or show that the nonmoving party does not have enough evidence of an essential element" to support its case. Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Cos., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000). Ultimately, the moving party must demonstrate, on the basis of authenticated evidence, that the record forecloses the possibility of a reasonable jury finding in favor of the nonmoving party as to disputed material facts. Celotex, 477U.S. at 323; Orr v. Bank of Am., NT & SA, 285 F.3d 764, 773 (9th Cir. 2002). The court views all evidence and any inferences arising therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Colwell v. Bannister, 763 F.3d 1060, 1065 (9th Cir. 2014).

         Where the moving party meets its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to "designate specific facts demonstrating the existence of genuine issues for trial." In re Oracle Corp. Sec. Litig., 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). "This burden is not a light one, " and requires the nonmoving party to "show more than the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence. ... In fact, the non-moving party must come forth with evidence from which a jury could reasonably render a verdict in the non-moving party's favor." Id. (citations omitted). The nonmoving party may defeat the summary judgment motion only by setting forth specific facts that illustrate a genuine dispute requiring a factfinder's resolution. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 248; Celotex, 477U.S. at 324. Although the nonmoving party need not produce authenticated evidence, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), mere assertions, pleading allegations, and "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts" will not defeat a properly-supported and meritorious summary judgment motion, Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986).

         For purposes of opposing summary judgment, the contentions offered by a pro se litigant in motions and pleadings are admissible to the extent that the contents are based on personal knowledge and set forth facts that would be admissible into evidence and the litigant attested under penalty of perjury that they were true and correct. Jones v. Blanas, 393 F.3d 918, 923 (9th Cir. 2004).


         A. Civil Rights Claims Under § 1983

         42 U.S.C. § 1983 aims "to deter state actors from using the badge of their authority to deprive individuals of their federally guaranteed rights." Anderson v. Warner, 451 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting McDade v. West, 223 F.3d 1135, 1139 (9th Cir. 2000)). The statute "provides a federal cause of action against any person who, acting under color of state law, deprives another of his federal rights[, ]" Conn v. Gabbert, 526 U.S. 286, 290 (1999), and therefore "serves as the procedural device for enforcing substantive provisions of the Constitution and j federal statutes, " Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991). Claims under § 1983 require a plaintiff to allege (1) the violation of a federally-protected right by (2) a person or official acting under the color of state law. Warner, 451 F.3d at 1067. Further, to prevail on a § 1983 claim, the plaintiff must establish each of the elements required to prove an infringement of the underlying constitutional or statutory right.

         B. Eighth Amendment ...

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