United States District Court, D. Nevada
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
RICHARD F. BOULARE, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court for consideration is Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment. ECF No. 34. For the reasons discussed
below, Defendant's motion is granted as to
Plaintiff's unsafe prison conditions claim, but denied as
to Plaintiff's excessive force claim and Defendant's
qualified immunity argument.
Maurice Jiles, proceeding pro se in this action, was formerly
incarcerated at Southern Desert Correctional Center
(“SDCC”). Jiles brought an action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against Defendants SDCC, Officer Roberson
(“Roberson”), and Warden Brian Williams
(“Williams”) alleging violations of his Eighth
Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.
Defendants were named in their individual and official
capacities. On September 8, 2015, the Court screened
Plaintiff's complaint and dismissed the claims against
SDCC and Williams. ECF No. 2. This screening order also
allowed Plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint. ECF No. 2. On
October 9, 2015, Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint. ECF
No. 4. On December 4, 2015, the Court screened
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. ECF No. 5. The Court
allowed Plaintiff's unsafe prison conditions and
excessive force claims to proceed, but dismissed
Plaintiff's violation of access to the courts claim. ECF
No. 5. On February 5, 2016, while the case was stayed, an
unsuccessful Early Mediation Conference took place. On March
3, 2016, Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma
pauperis was granted. ECF No. 11. On June 17, 2016, this
Court granted Defendant Roberson's proposed scheduling
order, with the close of discovery being on December 13,
2016. ECF No. 21. On February 13, 2017, Defendant filed this
Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 34.
UNDISPUTED AND DISPUTED FACTS
Court finds the following facts to be undisputed. Plaintiff
was an inmate in Nevada Department of Corrections
(“NDOC”) custody at SDCC housed in Unit 3 during
the alleged search in this case. Roberson is a Senior
Correctional Officer at SDCC who was assigned to
Plaintiff's housing unit during the alleged event in the
Complaint. Roberson is required to conduct a certain number
of cell searches and compliance checks pursuant to SDCC
General Population Housing Unit Post Orders. SDCC policy
requires at least three random cell searches within each
housing wing, for each day and swing shift. On or about June
1, 2014, Roberson was conducting a search in Plaintiff's
housing wing. Roberson restrained Plaintiff during the
search. Plaintiff met with medical staff on multiple
occasions following the alleged incident during the search;
however, each of these visits was for shingles, eye
appointments, or medication refills.
Plaintiff was written up for two counts of fighting on August
19, 2015 - over 14 months after the search took place.
Plaintiff got into a fight with nonparty inmate Phillip
Moorehead (“Moorehead”). There is no other
allegation of a fight taking place in the interim between the
June 1, 2014 search and the August 19, 2015 fight. Plaintiff
was transferred out of SDCC Unit 3 on September 18, 2014, and
was transferred six times between the date of the search and
the fight. Moorehead was not in NDOC custody until June 5,
2014 (4 days after the search), and was transferred from High
Desert State Prison to SDCC on July 31, 2014. Prior to being
in NDOC custody, Moorehead was in custody at Clark County
Detention Center. Plaintiff and Moorehead were placed in the
same housing unit on May 13, 2015.
parties in this case disagree on certain material facts. In
his Amended Complaint (ECF No. 4), Plaintiff alleges the
following: during the June 1, 2014 search, Roberson struck
Plaintiff and banged his head against the wall after
handcuffing him during the search. Plaintiff alleges that
Roberson's use of force was unprovoked and unnecessary as
he was complying with Roberson's directions. Roberson
stated to Plaintiff that he would kill Plaintiff and get away
with it. Roberson stated to Plaintiff that he was “a
slave” to Roberson. Roberson called out that Plaintiff
was a “snitch” in a manner that other inmates
could hear. Roberson denies these facts in his motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 34), and raises the following
factual disputes in his declaration: Plaintiff was visibly
frustrated and verbally combative during the search.
Plaintiff “shoulder checked” Roberson as he was
being taken out of his cell. Roberson requested Plaintiff be
moved so that he could “cool down, ” resulting in
Plaintiff being moved out of the unit for 45 minutes while
the search was completed.
judgment is appropriate when the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits, if any, show “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); accord Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322 (1986). When considering the propriety of summary
judgment, the court views all facts and draws all inferences
in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Gonzalez v. City of Anaheim, 747 F.3d 789, 793 (9th
Cir. 2014). “The court need consider only the cited
materials, but it may consider other materials in the
record.” FRCP 56(c)(3).
litigant “is pro se, we must consider as evidence in
his opposition to summary judgment all of [his] contentions
offered in motions and pleadings, where such contentions are
based on personal knowledge and set forth facts that would be
admissible in evidence, and where [he] attested under penalty
of perjury that the contents of the motions or pleadings are
true and correct.” Jones v. Blanas, 393 F.3d
918, 923 (9th Cir. 2004). “A verified complaint may be
used as an opposing affidavit under Rule 56.”
Schroeder v. McDonald, 55 F.3d 454, 460 (9th Cir.
1995). To function as an opposing affidavit, the verified
complaint must be based on personal knowledge and set forth
specific facts admissible in evidence. Id. The
allegations cannot be “based purely on [a
litigant's] belief.” Id. If the movant has
carried its burden, the non-moving party “must do more
than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to
the material facts . . . . Where the record taken as a whole
could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.”
Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007)
(alteration in original) (quotation marks omitted).
moves for summary judgment as to Plaintiff's unsafe
prison conditions and excessive force claims. Defendant also
argues that he is entitled to qualified immunity.