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Spann v. Bryant

United States District Court, D. Nevada

January 2, 2020

KELVIN L. SPANN, Plaintiff,
ROBERT BRYANT, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Kevin Spann filed a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. I screened Spann's complaint and allowed the Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claim to proceed against Officer Bryant, the Eighth Amendment excessive force claim to proceed against Officer Bauman, and the Fourteenth Amendment due process claim to proceed against Officer McCormack and Warden Williams. ECF No. 8. Those defendants now move for summary judgment on all of Spann's claims. ECF No. 37. Spann did not file an opposition to the motion.


         On November 25, 2017, Spann was being transferred from Ely State Prison (ESP) to the Southern Desert Correctional Center (SDCC) with seven other inmates. An argument ensued when Spann said to Officer Bauman, “you need to get me some shoes punk ass bitch.” Officer Bauman told Spann to be quiet as Officer Bauman was trying to verify the number of inmates on the transportation van. Spann continued his hostilities toward Officer Bauman, so Officer Bauman pushed Spann's face down towards the floor, grabbed him by his right arm, and placed him on the ground. Officer Bauman radioed then-Lieutenant Ronald Bryant about the situation and held Spann on the ground until other officers arrived.

         When Officer Bryant arrived, Officer Bauman informed him that Spann acted hostile towards him while Office Bauman was verifying the inmates on the transportation van. Other officers also confirmed to Officer Bryant that Spann was combative. Spann remained hostile towards the staff throughout the incident. Officer Bryant offered Spann to be seen by the medical provider but Spann refused medical attention, stating that he was not injured.

         Spann received disciplinary charges as a result of the incident. Officer McCormack was the hearing officer who conducted the disciplinary hearing. According to the Summary of Disciplinary Hearing, Officer McCormack provided Spann with a description of the evidence against him (including witness statements and photographic evidence), explained the disciplinary action to be taken, and afforded Spann an opportunity to present evidence and call witnesses. Officer McCormack interviewed the inmates that Spann designated as witnesses, but the inmates declined to testify on the record regarding the incident. Spann was found guilty of two disciplinary charges. The hearing was recorded.

         Warden Williams denied Spann's first level appeal of the finding of guilt. Warden Williams found that Spann disobeyed a direct order to be quiet while the officer was conducting a vehicle check and caused an unnecessary work stoppage. Warden Williams noted that Spann neither offered nor submitted any other proof to support his claims.


         Summary judgment is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. I first look to the pleadings, discovery responses, and affidavits to determine if there is a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Summary judgment is appropriate when, “taking the evidence and all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Furnace v. Sullivan, 705 F.3d 1021, 1026 (9th Cir. 2013) (quotation omitted). An issue is genuine if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         The moving party bears the burden of showing the basis for its motion and the portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323. A court may not grant summary judgment solely on the basis that no response was filed. Henry v. Gill Indus. Inc., 983 F.2d 943, 950 (9th Cir. 1993). I must still consider whether the moving party has met its initial burdens of establishing there is no issue for trial and it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.


         A. Eighth Amendment Conditions of Confinement Claim

         The “treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment.” Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993). Conditions of confinement may, consistent with the Constitution, be restrictive and harsh. Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981). However, “[p]rison officials have a duty to ensure that prisoners are provided adequate shelter, food, clothing, sanitation, medical care, and personal safety.” Johnson v. Lewis, 217 F.3d 726, 731 (9th Cir. 2000).

         To challenge the conditions of confinement under the Eighth Amendment, a plaintiff must meet both objective and subjective tests. Id. The objective test requires a showing that the deprivation was sufficiently serious to form the basis for an Eighth Amendment violation. Johnson v. Lewis, 217 F.3d 726, 731 (9th Cir. 2000). When determining whether the conditions of confinement meet the objective test, the court must analyze each condition to determine whether that specific condition violates the Eighth Amendment. Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1107 (9th Cir. 1986). However, some “conditions of confinement may establish an Eighth Amendment violation ‘in combination' when each would not do so alone, but only when they have a mutually enforcing effect that produces the deprivation of a single, identifiable human need such as food, warmth, or exercise-for example, a low cell temperature at night combined with a failure to issue ...

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