Padilla v. Gibbons et al, No. 3:2007cv00442 - Document 48 (D. Nev. 2009)

Court Description: ORDER denying 34 Motion for Preliminary Injunction.; denying 13 Motion for Preliminary Injunction.; granting in part and denying in part 16 Motion to Dismiss.; denying 25 Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Magistrate Judge Robert A. McQuaid, Jr on 03/11/09. (Copies have been distributed pursuant to the NEF - LG)
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Padilla v. Gibbons et al Doc. 48 1 2 3 4 5 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF NEVADA 6 7 RAYMOND PADILLA, 8 Plaintiff, 9 10 11 vs. THE STATE OF NEVADA in relation to the NEVADA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., 12 Defendants. 13 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) 3:07-cv-0442-RAM MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER 14 Before the court is Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #16), Plaintiff’s Motion for 15 Summary Judgment (Doc. #25), and Plaintiff’s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction (Docs. #13 16 and #42). I. BACKGROUND 17 At all relevant times, Plaintiff was an inmate at Ely State Prison in custody of the Nevada 18 19 Department of Corrections (NDOC). 20 correctional officers, and employees within the NDOC system. Count I of Plaintiff’s complaint, 21 brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleges that after he was sanctioned with a ten-day loss 22 of his canteen privileges for a disciplinary infraction in July 2007, he was again sanctioned for 23 the same offense. Plaintiff alleges that prison officials impounded his personal property and 24 revoked his visiting, phone call, and canteen privileges for 180 days and his package privileges 25 for two years. (Doc. #5 at 5.) 26 /// 27 /// 28 (Doc. #5 at 1.) Defendants are administrators, 1 Dockets.Justia.com 1 Count II alleges that ESP’s Institutional Operational Procedure (IP) 5.13 grants Warden 2 E.K. McDaniel the authority to adopt regulations and penalties that violate Nevada Revised 3 Statute § 209.361 and NDOC Administrative Regulations (ARs) 585 and 707. Plaintiff alleges 4 that IP 5.13 denies him a fair hearing, notice of charges, or appeal. (Id. at 6.) 5 Count III alleges that Plaintiff has been placed in administrative segregation as a 6 sanction for failing to cooperate in an informant program. (Id. at 8.) Plaintiff alleges that 7 various unnamed prison officials are using this classification status to continue to retaliate 8 against Plaintiff under the guise of protective segregation after he debriefed from a prison gang. 9 He also alleges that his requests for a full classification hearing and to be provided the 10 privileges of protective segregation have been denied. Plaintiff further alleges that there are 11 no penological concerns justifying his administrative segregation, as his debriefing was a 12 confidential matter that would not be known to the general prison population. (Id. at 9.) 13 Based on these allegations, Plaintiff alleges violations of his Eighth Amendment right 14 to be free from cruel and unusual punishment and his Fourteenth Amendment right to 15 procedural due process and equal protection for each of his claims. (Id.) Plaintiff seeks 16 declaratory and injunctive relief as well as damages. (Doc. #5 at 14-15.) Defendants move to 17 dismiss based on Eleventh Amendment immunity, lack of personal participation, and because 18 the lawsuit duplicates a pending action already before the court. (Doc. #16 at 2.) III. DISCUSSION 19 20 A. Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss 21 Before the court is Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. #16.) Plaintiff has opposed. 22 (Doc. #25.) After a thorough review , the court orders that Defendants’ motion be denied in 23 part and granted in part. 24 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for dismissal of a complaint for failure 25 to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. All allegations of material fact are construed 26 in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, taking any reasonable inferences drawn from them as 27 true. Broam v. Bogan, 320 F.3d 1023, 1028 (9th Cir. 2003). The plaintiff need only give 28 2 1 defendants a fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests. Erickson v. 2 Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007). A Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal may arise from a lack of a 3 cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under such a theory. Johnson 4 v. Riverside Healthcare Sys., LP, 534 F.3d 1116, 1122 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing Balistreri v. 5 Pacifica Police Dep’t, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990)). “Conclusory allegations of law and 6 unnwarranted inferences are insufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss for failure to state a 7 claim.” In re VeriFone Sec. Litig., 11 F.3d 865, 868 (9th Cir. 1993). At minimum, the 8 complaint should plead “enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” 9 Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007). 10 A pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards 11 than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Erickson, 127 S.Ct. at 2200 (quoting Estelle v. 12 Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). The court must construe the pleadings liberally and afford 13 the plaintiff any benefit of the doubt. Thompson v. Davis, 295 F.3d 890, 895 (9th Cir. 2002). 14 However, sweeping conclusory allegations will not suffice. Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 15 (9th Cir. 1988). In giving liberal construction to a pro se civil rights complaint, the court is not 16 to supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled. Ivey v. Bd. of Regents of 17 the Univ. of Alaska, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). 18 1. ELEVENTH AMENDMENT IMMUNITY 19 The Eleventh Amendment bars federal courts from hearing suits brought against an 20 unconsenting state. Seminole Tribe of Fla. v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44 (1996). This immunity 21 extends to state agencies administering prisons. Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 22 1989). Accordingly, the State of Nevada, the Nevada Department of Corrections, and the 23 Nevada Board of Prison Commissioners should be dismissed from this lawsuit. 24 The Eleventh Amendment bar also extends to a federal court action for damages (or 25 other retroactive relief) brought by a citizen against state official acting in his official capacity. 26 Pena v. Gardner, 976 F.2d 469, 472 (9th Cir. 1993) (citing Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 27 664 (1974)). It will not, however, bar claims against the officials in their personal capacities. 28 3 1 Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25 (1991). To the extent that the complaint can be construed as 2 alleging a damages claim against the named defendants in their official capacities, those claims 3 are dismissed. See Will v. Mich. Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1981). 4 2. PERSONAL PARTICIPATION 5 As indicated in the screening order dismissing Plaintiff’s original complaint, a showing 6 of personal participation by a defendant is necessary for personal liability under a§ 1983 claim. 7 Taylor, 880 F.2d at 1045. A supervisor is only liable for constitutional violations of his 8 subordinates if the supervisor participated in or directed the violations, or knew of the 9 violations and failed to act to prevent them. There is no respondeat superior liability under § 10 1983. Id. (citing Ybarra v. Reno Thunderbird Mobile Home Village, 723 F.2d 675, 680-81 (9th 11 Cir.1984)). 12 Defendants Skolnik and Doe #2 are named in the complaint as directors of the 13 Department of Corrections. Similarly, Defendant Gibbons and John Doe #1 are named in their 14 capacity as members of the Nevada Board of Prison Commissioners. While these defendants 15 had supervisory responsibilities over the Nevada prison system, Defendant has not alleged how 16 these defendants personally directed, participated in, or had knowledge of the alleged 17 misconduct by the prison officials at ESP. Thus, dismissal of these defendants is proper. 18 Defendants Peltzer and Chambliss are named as caseworkers at Ely State Prison. Even 19 liberally construing the pleadings and Plaintiff’s opposition, the court is unable is to discern 20 how these defendants personally participated in the alleged constitutional violations. Plaintiff 21 seems to name these defendants because they denied Plaintiff’s grievances. This does not mean 22 that they played a role in the alleged constitutional violations. Plaintiff fails to plead any facts 23 sufficient to state a theory of supervisory liability based on their knowledge of the alleged 24 constitutional violations. Therefore, these defendants are dismissed. 25 Defendants rely on the same reasoning to move for dismissal of Defendants Warden E.K. 26 McDaniel, Associate Warden of Programs Adam Endel, and Associate Warden of Operations 27 Debra Brooks. Unlike the defendants discussed above, however, Plaintiff specifically alleges 28 4 1 their role in the alleged deprivations. For example, Count I alleges that Warden McDaniel was 2 responsible for imposing the allegedly unlawful sanctions and directed the assistant wardens 3 to enforce them, and Count II contains similar allegations. See, e.g., Doc. #25 at 3; Doc. #5 at 4 6. Therefore, dismissal of these defendants is denied. 5 With respect to Count III, the screening order (Doc. #3) granted Plaintiff leave to amend 6 his complaint to link the named defendants with an affirmative act or omission violating his 7 constitutional rights. Id. at 4 (citing Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978). 8 Count III of the amended complaint fails to remedy this deficiency, as it generally names the 9 prison administrators at Ely State Prison as responsible for the claims related to administrative 10 segregation. See Doc. #5 at 6A-6C. Plaintiff’s opposition to the motion to dismiss does not 11 clarify against which defendants he is alleging these claims. Plaintiff has already been granted 12 leave to amend to properly plead this claim. Because of his failure to do so, the claim is 13 dismissed. 14 3. DUPLICATIVE ACTIONS 15 Defendant argue that this lawsuit should be dismissed because it duplicates Count II of 16 a previous filing, Case No. 3:07-CV-171-RAM (“the ‘171 action”). Where two lawsuits may be 17 duplicative, the court should “examine whether causes of action and relief sought, as well as 18 the parties or privies to action, are the same.” Adams v. Cal Dep’t of Health Servs., 487 F.3d 19 684, 689 (9th Cir. 2007). In analyzing an identity between the causes of action, four criteria 20 are examined, with an emphasis on the last: 23 (1) whether rights or interests established in the prior judgment would be destroyed or impaired by prosecution of the second action; (2) whether substantially the same evidence is presented in the two actions; (3) whether the two suits involve infringement of the same right; and (4) whether the two suits arise out of the same transactional nucleus of facts. 24 Id. at 689 (citing Costantini v. Trans World Airlines, 681 F.2d 1199, 1201-02 (9th Cir.1982)). 25 Count II of the ‘171 action alleges that Plaintiff suffered from procedural due process, 26 Eighth Amendment, and equal protection violations after he was punished for refusing to 27 return to his cell in the administrative segregation unit. Plaintiff alleges that the he was 28 5 21 22 1 justified in his actions because he believed his cellmate presented a danger to him. At the 2 disciplinary hearing, Plaintiff alleges that he was not provided an adequate opportunity to 3 present this defense. (Case No. ‘171, Doc. #16 at 8.) This is factually distinct from Count I of 4 the instant action, which challenges an additional set of sanctions that were imposed after 5 Plaintiff served his original punishment. (Doc. #5 at 5.) It is unclear whether that original 6 punishment refers to the same one in the ‘171 action for Plaintiff’s to return to his cell. Even 7 if it were, however, the two lawsuits involve different causes of action. 8 Count II of this action is also distinct from Count II of the ‘171 action, as here Plaintiff 9 challenges more generally Warden McDaniel’s ability to incorporate certain punishments into 10 the institutional procedures at his institution. That claim relies on a broader set of facts than 11 the specific incident Plaintiff complains about in the ‘171 action. Defendants do not explain 12 how these claims duplicate one another or why a ruling on one would impair the judgment on 13 the other. Therefore, their motion on this basis is denied. 14 B. Before the court is Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. #25.) Defendants 15 16 Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment have opposed (Doc. #43), and Plaintiff has replied (Doc. #46). The motion is denied. 17 The purpose of summary judgment is to avoid unnecessary trials when there is no 18 dispute as to the facts before the court. Northwest Motorcycle Ass’n v. U.S. Dep’t of Agric., 18 19 F.3d 1468, 1471 (9th Cir. 1994). All reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the non-moving 20 party. In re Slatkin, 525 F.3d 805, 810 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 21 477 U.S. 242, 244 (1986)). Summary judgment is appropriate if “the pleadings, the discovery 22 and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any 23 material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Id. (citing 24 Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). Where reasonable minds could differ on the material facts at issue, 25 however, summary judgment is not appropriate. Warren v. City of Carlsbad, 58 F.3d 439, 441 26 (9th Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1171 (1996). 27 /// 28 6 1 The moving party bears the burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion, 2 together with evidence demonstrating the absence of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex 3 Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party has met its burden, the party 4 opposing the motion may not rest upon mere allegations or denials of the pleadings, but must 5 set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. 6 Although the parties may submit evidence in an inadmissible form, only evidence which might 7 be admissible at trial may be considered by a trial court in ruling on a motion for summary 8 judgment. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). 9 In evaluating the appropriateness of summary judgment, three steps are necessary: (1) 10 determining whether a fact is material; (2) determining whether there is a genuine issue for the 11 trier of fact, as determined by the documents submitted to the court; and (3) considering that 12 evidence in light of the appropriate standard of proof. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. As to 13 materiality, only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the 14 governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment; factual disputes which 15 are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be considered. Id. Where there is a complete failure of 16 proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party’s case, all other facts are 17 rendered immaterial, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex, 18 477 U.S. at 323. Summary judgment is not a disfavored procedural shortcut, but an integral 19 part of the federal rules as a whole. Id. 20 The court construes the motion as for summary judgment on Counts I and II of the 21 complaint based on Plaintiff’s right to procedural due process under the Fourteenth 22 Amendment. Plaintiff argues that the Warden imposed sanctions on him on July 23, 2007 23 without a hearing, notices, witnesses or appeal. (Doc. #25 at 7.) Plaintiff argues that he was 24 denied due process protections and that these sanctions violated Administrative Regulations 25 585 and 707, as well as Nevada Revised Statutes §§ 209.161 and 209.131. Plaintiff also 26 contends that the IP 5.13 violates AR 105. 27 /// 28 7 1 Under the Due Process Clause, a prisoner is entitled to certain procedural protections 2 when he is charged with a disciplinary violation. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 564-571 3 (1974). These protections include the rights to call witnesses, to present documentary evidence 4 and to have a written statement by the factfinder as to the evidence relied upon and the reasons 5 for the disciplinary action taken. Id. However, these protections only apply when the 6 disciplinary action implicates a protected liberty interest in some “unexpected matter” or 7 imposes an “atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary 8 incidents of prison life.” Sandin v. Connor, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995). The inquiry into whether 9 a prison hardship is atypical and significant is determined by three factors: (1) whether the 10 challenged condition “mirrored those conditions imposed upon inmates in administrative 11 segregation and protective custody” and thus comported with the prison's discretionary 12 authority; (2) the duration of the condition and degree of restraint imposed; and (3) whether 13 the state's action will invariably affect the duration of the prisoner's sentence. Id. at 486-87. 14 In this case, Plaintiff offers inadequate evidence to prove his claims that the sanctions 15 imposed an undue hardship. Plaintiff’s discipline consisted of the revocation of the following 16 privileges: personal phone calls for 180 days, electrical appliances for 180 days, personal visits 17 for one year, canteen privileges for 180 days, and package privileges for two years. The extent 18 to which these privileges are granted to other inmates is a material fact not addressed by the 19 evidence submitted by Plaintiff. The fact that they are denominated as “privileges” suggests 20 that they are not rights created by state law that could give rise to a due process liberty interest. 21 There 22 administrative segregation or that this was an unusual punishment for Plaintiff’s disciplinary 23 offense. These are material facts that go to the seriousness of the deprivation alleged by 24 Plaintiff. 25 /// 26 /// 27 /// 28 is also no evidence that these are privileges normally accorded to inmates in 8 1 Even assuming he stated a constitutionally protected liberty interest, it is unlikely that 2 Plaintiff was deprived of due process. Plaintiff argues that he was denied a hearing when he 3 was disciplined under IP 5.13. However, Plaintiff was provided with a notice of charges and 4 disciplinary hearing when he was initially sanctioned under the ARs. See Doc. #25 at 11-13 5 [notice of charges and summary of disciplinary hearing]. 6 regulations and statutes cited by Plaintiff, the court finds no requirement that Plaintiff receive 7 a second hearing before the Warden could impose additional penalties under an IP for the same 8 offense. Neither is there any indication that the ARs prescribe the exclusive means for Plaintiff 9 to be punished or establish a maximum punishment for an offense. While AR 105.01-10 forbids 10 an IP that “supersede[s]” the ARs, it is silent on whether a punishment may be enhanced. 11 Therefore, the mere fact that Plaintiff did not receive a rehearing for his disciplinary violation 12 does not prove that he is entitled to summary judgment on procedural due process grounds. 13 C. After reviewing the various Motions for Preliminary Injunction 14 Before the court are duplicative motions for preliminary injunction filed by Plaintiff. 15 (Docs. #13 and #34) consisting of requests for documents and access to legal copywork. These 16 requests are not properly brought in a motion for preliminary injunction and are therefore 17 denied. If Defendants’ recent good faith efforts to comply with his requests are still not 18 satisfactory, Plaintiff is ordered to follow the proper procedure for requesting documents 19 pursuant to Rule 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff’s request for legal 20 copywork is moot, as this issue was resolved during a motion hearing for the ‘171 case held on 21 January 21, 2009 (Case No. ‘171, Doc. #117) and is demonstrated by the voluminous exhibits 22 he has included with his opposition to his motion for summary judgment. (Doc. # 46.) If 23 Plaintiff again encounters problems with obtaining copies, he is instructed to file a one-page 24 motion with the court. 25 /// 26 /// 27 /// 28 9 IV. CONCLUSION 1 2 IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: 3 • The Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #16) is GRANTED IN PART with respect to Defendants State of Nevada in relation to the Nevada Department of Corrections, Nevada Board of Prison Commissioners, Governor Jim Gibbons, John Doe #1, Howard Skolnick, John Doe #2, Harry Peltzer, and Robert Chambliss and DENIED IN PART with respect to Defendants E.K. McDaniel, Adam Endel, and Debra Brooks; • The Motion to Dismiss the complaint for being a duplicative action is DENIED; • The Motion to Dismiss Count III of the Amended Complaint is GRANTED; • Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. #25) is DENIED; and • Plaintiff’s Motions for Preliminary Injunction (Docs. #13 and #34) are DENIED. 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DATED: March 11, 2009. 11 12 13 UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 10