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Tagle v. Anderson

United States District Court, D. Nevada

June 26, 2019

VICTOR TAGLE, Plaintiff,
MICHAEL ANDERSON et al., Defendants.


         Presently before the court is defendants Jayson Artinger, Joshua Barfield, Regina Barrett, Rebecca Boyd, Andrew Bulfer, Vance Crowder, Robert Douglas, Joseph Dugan, Antonio Garcia, Terrel Gregory, Jonathan Hester, Salvatore Marino, Julie Matousek, Dwight Neven, Dean Ontiveros, Charles Pascascio, Alan Richardson, Juan Sotomayor, April Witter, and Juan Zelaya's (collectively “served defendants”) motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 162). Plaintiff Victor Tagle filed a response (ECF No. 167), to which the served defendants replied (ECF No. 168).

         Also before the court is Magistrate Judge Peggy A. Leen's report and recommendation. (ECF No. 156). Plaintiff filed an objection. (ECF No. 160). The relevant individual defendants have not been served and were unable to file a response.

         I. Facts

         This is a prisoner civil rights case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1983. See (ECF No. 23). Plaintiff, who is a prisoner in the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections (“NDOC”), proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1, 8).

         Plaintiff alleges that defendants, who are NDOC employees, violated his constitutional rights by (1) refusing to deliver, send, and receive his mail; (2) refusing to mail his habeas corpus petition to the court; (2) removing or altering documents from plaintiff's outgoing mail to the court; (3) removing plaintiff's legal work from his boxes; (4) confiscating discovery materials; and (5) destroying legal boxes and mail in plaintiff's cell. (ECF No. 23).

         On April 5, 2016, plaintiff initiated this action. (ECF No. 1). In the amended complaint, plaintiff asserts four causes of action: (1) interference with mail in violation of the First Amendment; (2) denial of access in violation of the First Amendment; (3) violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and (4) supervisory liability. See (ECF No. 23).

         On April 13, 2018, the parties commenced discovery. (ECF No. 47). After nearly a year, the parties were unable to produce documents showing that plaintiff filed grievances for the constitutional violations that plaintiff alleges in his amended complaint. See (ECF Nos. 162, 167). Now, the served defendants move for summary judgment. (ECF No. 162).

         II. Legal Standard

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow summary judgment 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 a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A principal purpose of summary judgment is “to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).

         For purposes of summary judgment, disputed factual issues should be construed in favor of the non-moving party. Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed., 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990). However, to be entitled to a denial of summary judgment, the nonmoving party must “set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id.

         In determining summary judgment, a court applies a burden-shifting analysis. The moving party must first satisfy its initial burden. “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 issue 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) (citations omitted).

         By 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 non-moving party's case; or (2) by demonstrating that 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., 477 U.S. at 323-24. If the moving party fails to meet its initial burden, summary judgment must be denied and the court need not consider the nonmoving party's evidence. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 159- 60 (1970).

         If the moving party satisfies its initial burden, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue of material fact exists. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). To establish the existence of a factual dispute, the opposing party need not establish a material issue of 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, 631 (9th Cir. 1987).

         In other words, the nonmoving party cannot avoid summary judgment by relying solely on conclusory allegations that are unsupported by factual data. See Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Instead, the opposition must go beyond the assertions and allegations of the pleadings and set forth specific facts by ...

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