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Seely v. Baca

United States District Court, D. Nevada

March 20, 2018

EDWARD SEELY, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ISIDRO BACA, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          MIRANDA M. DU UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. SUMMARY

         Before the Court is Magistrate Judge Valerie P. Cooke's Amended Report and Recommendation[1] (“Amended R&R”) (ECF No. 108) regarding Defendants'[2] Motion for Summary Judgment (“Motion”). (ECF No. 78.) Plaintiffs[3] and Defendants filed objections (ECF Nos. 104, 109) and responses (ECF Nos. 107, 110), which the Court has reviewed. For the reasons described below, the Court finds good cause to accept and adopt the Amended R&R in full.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The Court adopts the factual background and procedural history as set out in the Amended R&R. (ECF No. 108 at 1-2.)

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         This Court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Where a party timely objects to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, then this Court is required to “make a de novo determination of those portions of the [report and recommendation] to which objection is made.” Id. Mindful of the fact that the Supreme Court has “instructed the federal courts to liberally construe the ‘inartful pleading' of pro se litigants, ” Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1137 (9th Cir. 1987) (citing Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam)), the Court will view Plaintiff's pleadings with the appropriate degree of leniency.

         IV. DEFENDANTS' OBJECTIONS (ECF No. 109)

         Defendants object to the Amended R&R on two grounds. First, Defendants argue that the Magistrate Judge erred by refraining from granting qualified immunity to the Defendants on all of Plaintiffs' surviving claims. (ECF No. 109 at 4.) Second, Defendants argue that the Magistrate Judge erred in purportedly expanding the scope of Plaintiffs' Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) claims. (Id. at 7.) The Court finds both arguments unpersuasive.

         A. Qualified Immunity

         The Magistrate Judge declined to grant summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity due to unresolved issues of genuine material fact: whether Plaintiffs Seely and Lyons-who were in wheelchairs-were able to access outdoor exercise facilities including the athletic field, track, gym, gym bathrooms, sinks, drinking fountains, and outdoor bathrooms. (ECF No. 108 at 26.) The Court finds that the Magistrate Judge did not err. Summary judgment is inappropriate when qualified immunity depends on issues of disputed fact. See, e.g., Lolli v. Cty. of Orange, 351 F.3d 410, 421 (9th Cir. 2003). If Plaintiffs Seely and Lyons were unable to access outdoor exercise facilities in their wheelchairs, then they were effectively deprived of outdoor exercise altogether. Defendants themselves acknowledge that “[t]he Ninth Circuit has made clear that ‘some form of regular outdoor exercise is extremely important to the psychological and physical well-being of the inmates.'” (ECF No. 109 at 6 (quoting Spain v. Procunier, 600 F.2d 189, 199 (9th Cir. 1979).) Defendants contend that “allowing inmates to use the athletic field or other areas outside” could constitute “some form of regular outdoor exercise, ” but the jury may find that Plaintiffs had no access to “the athletic field and other areas outside” whatsoever due to inaccessibility, in which case Defendants would have violated a clearly established right. (See Id. at 6.)

         B. Scope of Screening Order

         The Magistrate Judge interpreted Plaintiffs' complaints “to raise two separate ADA and RA [Rehabilitation Act] claims [as to Plaintiffs Seely and Lyons] based on different underlying factual allegations: (1) an ADA and RA discrimination claim [involving] the level system, and (2) an ADA and RA accessibility claim based on NNCC's [Northern Nevada Correctional Center] exercise facilities.” (ECF No. 108 at 18.) Defendants contend that the second claim exceeds the scope of the Screening Order (ECF No. 5). (ECF No. 109 at 7.) The Court finds that the Screening Order encompasses both claims. First, the Screening Order identifies factual allegations supporting an ADA claim based on lack of access to NNCC's exercise facilities:

Plaintiff claims he is only given access to two general areas during yard time. Those areas are the athletic field and the gym. The athletic field does not have a paved track and instead consists of sand, dirt, gravel, and grassy areas, which impede access for him. The pull-up bar on the field is nine feet off of the ground, and is thus unusable by someone in a wheelchair. The gym has no wheelchair accessible restrooms or toilets, and the equipment is ...

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