Tran v. Young et al

Filing 68

ORDER and FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS signed by Magistrate Judge Deborah Barnes on 2/15/2021 GRANTING 64 Motion to Strike and RECOMMENDING 53 Motion for Summary Judgment be granted. Referred to Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. Objections due within 30 days after being served with these findings and recommendations. (Henshaw, R)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 BINH C. TRAN, 12 Plaintiff, 13 14 No. 2:17-cv-1260 MCE DB P v. ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS K. YOUNG, et al., 15 Defendants. 16 Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with a civil rights 17 18 action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims defendants violated his rights when they 19 failed to protect him, violated his right to due process during a disciplinary hearing, and treated 20 him differently than other inmates. Presently before the court is defendants fully briefed motion 21 for summary judgment and their motion to strike plaintiff’s unauthorized sur-reply. For the 22 reasons set forth below the court will deny defendants’ motion to strike and recommend that the 23 motion for summary judgment be granted. BACKGROUND 24 25 26 I. Procedural History This action proceeds on plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint (“FAC”). (ECF No. 16.) 27 Upon screening the FAC the court determined that the allegations were sufficient to state a 28 cognizable failure to protect claim against defendants Young, Carpenter, and Monk and due 1 1 process and equal protection claims against defendant Williams. (ECF No. 18 at 4-5.) The court 2 further determined that the allegations failed to state a claim against defendant St. Andre. (Id. at 3 6-8.) Plaintiff was given the option to proceed with the FAC as screened or to amend the 4 complaint. 5 Plaintiff elected to proceed only on his claims against defendants Young, Carpenter, 6 Monk, and Williams, voluntarily dismissing his claim against St. Andre. (ECF No. 19.) 7 Following service on defendants, this action was referred to the court’s Alternative Dispute 8 Resolution program for a settlement conference. The case did not settle (ECF No. 36) and the 9 parties engaged in discovery. Following the close of discovery, the defendants filed the instant 10 summary judgment motion. (ECF No. 53.) Plaintiff has filed an opposition (ECF No. 61) and 11 defendants have replied (ECF No. 62). 12 13 II. Allegations in the Complaint Plaintiff has stated the following allegations in the FAC: at all times relevant to this action 14 he was a state inmate housed at High Desert State Prison (“HDSP”). (ECF No. 16.) Plaintiff 15 alleges he was housed with a homosexual cellmate, Vincent Biagas, who was twice his size and 16 had a history of violence. (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff informed correctional officers Young, Carpenter, 17 and Monk of the situation with Biagas and asked to be moved to another cell. Plaintiff also spoke 18 to an inmate representative about the issues with Biagas. Young, Carpenter, and Monk told the 19 inmate representative that they would not allow plaintiff to move to another cell. While plaintiff 20 was in the dayroom, Biagas “said some homosexual stuff” to him as he was walking by, so 21 plaintiff “called him a sick-faggot.” (Id. at 6.) Biagas took a swing at him and plaintiff defended 22 himself. 23 Plaintiff further alleges that during the disciplinary hearing regarding the fight Lieutenant 24 Williams refused to call the inmate representative to testify as plaintiff requested. Williams also 25 falsified documents and plaintiff’s testimony. As a result, plaintiff was placed on a different 26 privilege group and in disciplinary confinement, even though Williams was aware plaintiff had 27 been disciplinary free for three years in violation of prison procedure. (Id. at 7.) Plaintiff claims 28 he learned from other inmates that white and Latino inmates had better hearing outcomes for 2 1 similar infractions. He alleges his sentence was unfair and he was treated differently that 2 prisoners of other races. 3 MOTION TO STRIKE 4 Plaintiff filed an additional opposition in response to defendants’ reply brief. (ECF No. 5 63.) Defendants moved to strike plaintiff’s second opposition to their reply as an unauthorized 6 sur-reply.1 (ECF No. 64.) In support of their motion they argue that plaintiff has not moved for 7 leave to file a sur-reply, has raised new issues for the first time in his unauthorized sur-reply, and 8 has failed to show that there is a genuine issue of material fact. 9 The Local Rules provide for a motion, an opposition, and a reply. See E.D. Cal. R. 230(l). 10 There is nothing in the Local Rules or the Federal Rules that provides the right to file a sur-reply. 11 The court generally views motions for leave to file a sur-reply with disfavor. Hill v. England, No. 12 CVF05869 REC TAG, 2005 WL 3031136, at *1 (E.D. Cal. 2005) (citation omitted). However, 13 district courts have the discretion to either permit or preclude a sur-reply. See JG v. Douglas 14 County School Dist., 552 F.3d 786, 803 n.14 (9th Cir. 2008) (district court did not abuse 15 discretion in denying leave to file a sur-reply where it did not consider new evidence in reply). 16 Defendants have correctly argued that plaintiff does not have the right to file a sur-reply. 17 Additionally, plaintiff has failed to file a motion seeking leave to file a sur-reply. However, in 18 light of plaintiff’s pro se status the court will deny motion to strike. The court has reviewed 19 plaintiff’s sur-reply but finds that the arguments raised in the sur-reply do not change the court’s 20 analysis of summary judgment motion. 21 MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 22 Defendants argue their motion for summary judgment should be granted because 23 defendants Young, Monk, and Carpenter were not aware of any security concerns, they were not 24 present at the altercation, and did not cause plaintiff’s harm. (ECF No. 53-1 at 8.) They further 25 argue that plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies as to defendant Williams. 26 27 28 “A surreply, or sur-reply, is an additional reply to a motion filed after the motion has already been fully briefed.” Rushdan v. Davey, No. 1:16-cv-0988 GSA PC, 2020 WL 2556549, at *1 (E.D. Cal. May 20, 2020). 3 1 1 Plaintiff argues defendants were aware of his safety concerns, Young was present during 2 the altercation, and that the court should find that his efforts to exhaust administrative remedies 3 were sufficient to satisfy the exhaustion requirement. (ECF No. 60.) 4 I. Legal Standards – Summary Judgment under Rule 56 5 Summary judgment is appropriate when the moving party “shows that there is no genuine 6 dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. 7 Civ. P. 56(a). Under summary judgment practice, “[t]he moving party bears the burden of 8 proving the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” In re Oracle Corp. Sec. Litig., 627 F.3d 9 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). The moving 10 party may accomplish this by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including 11 depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations 12 (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or 13 other materials” or by showing that such materials “do not establish the absence or presence of a 14 genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.” 15 Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1). 16 “Where the non-moving party bears the burden of proof at trial, the moving party need 17 only prove there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party’s case.” Oracle 18 Corp., 627 F.3d at 387 (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(B). 19 Indeed, summary judgment should be entered, “after adequate time for discovery and upon 20 motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an 21 element essential to that party’s case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at 22 trial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. “[A] complete failure of proof concerning an essential element 23 of the nonmoving party’s case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.” Id. at 323. In such 24 a circumstance, summary judgment should “be granted so long as whatever is before the district 25 court demonstrates that the standard for the entry of summary judgment, as set forth in Rule 26 56(c), is satisfied.” Id. 27 28 If the moving party meets its initial responsibility, the burden shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue as to any material fact actually does exist. Matsushita Elec. 4 1 Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). In attempting to establish the 2 existence of this factual dispute, the opposing party may not rely upon the allegations or denials 3 of its pleadings but is required to tender evidence of specific facts in the form of affidavits, and/or 4 admissible discovery material, in support of its contention that the dispute exists. See Fed. R. 5 Civ. P. 56(c). The opposing party must demonstrate that the fact in contention is material, i.e., a 6 fact “that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law,” Anderson v. Liberty 7 Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass’n, 809 8 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987), and that the dispute is genuine, i.e., “the evidence is such that a 9 reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party,” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. 10 “In evaluating the evidence to determine whether there is a genuine issue of fact, [the 11 court] draw[s] all inferences supported by the evidence in favor of the non-moving party.” Walls 12 v. Cent. Costa Cnty. Transit Auth., 653 F.3d 963, 966 (9th Cir. 2011) (per curiam) (citation 13 omitted). It is the opposing party’s obligation to produce a factual predicate from which the 14 inference may be drawn. See Richards v. Nielsen Freight Lines, 810 F.2d 898, 902 (9th Cir. 15 1987). Finally, to demonstrate a genuine issue, the opposing party “must do more than simply 16 show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586 17 (citations omitted). “Where the record is taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to 18 find for the non-moving party, there is no ‘genuine issue for trial.’” Id. at 587 (quoting First Nat’l 19 Bank, 391 U.S. at 289). 20 On a motion for summary judgment, it is inappropriate for the court to weigh evidence or 21 resolve competing inferences. “In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must 22 leave ‘[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate 23 inferences from the facts’ to the jury.” Foster v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 243 Fed.Appx. 208, 24 210 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). 25 Generally, when a defendant moves for summary judgment on an affirmative defense on 26 which he bears the burden of proof at trial, he must come forward with evidence which would 27 entitle him to a directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at trial. See Houghton v. 28 South, 965 F.2d 1532, 1536 (9th Cir. 1992). The failure to exhaust administrative remedies is an 5 1 affirmative defense that must be raised in a motion for summary judgment rather than a motion to 2 dismiss. See Albino v. Baca, 747 F.3d 1162, 1166 (9th Cir. 2014) (en banc). On a motion for 3 summary judgment for non-exhaustion, the defendant has the initial burden to prove “that there 4 was an available administrative remedy, and that the prisoner did not exhaust that available 5 remedy.” Id. at 1172. If the defendant carries that burden, the “burden shifts to the prisoner to 6 come forward with evidence showing that there is something in his particular case that made the 7 existing and generally available administrative remedies effectively unavailable to him.” Id. The 8 ultimate burden of proof remains with the defendant, however. Id. If material facts are disputed, 9 summary judgment should be denied, and the “judge rather than a jury should determine the 10 facts” on the exhaustion question, id. at 1166, “in the same manner a judge rather than a jury 11 decides disputed factual questions relevant to jurisdiction and venue,” id. at 1170-71. 12 II. Legal Standards – Eighth Amendment 13 The Eighth Amendment prohibits the infliction of “cruel and unusual punishments.” U.S. 14 Const. amend. VIII. The unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain constitutes cruel and unusual 15 punishment prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986); 16 Ingraham v. Wright, 430 U.S. 651, 670 (1977); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105-06 (1976). 17 Neither accident nor negligence constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, as “[i]t is obduracy 18 and wantonness, not inadvertence or error in good faith, that characterize the conduct prohibited 19 by the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause.” Whitley, 475 U.S. at 319. 20 A failure to protect claim under the Eighth Amendment requires a showing that “the 21 official [knew] of and disregard[ed] an excessive risk to inmate . . . safety.” Farmer v. Brennan, 22 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994). “Whether a prison official had the requisite knowledge of a substantial 23 risk is a question of fact subject to demonstration in the usual ways, including inference from 24 circumstantial evidence, . . . and a factfinder may conclude that a prison official knew of a 25 substantial risk from the very fact that the risk was obvious.” Id. at 842 (citations omitted). The 26 duty to protect a prisoner from serious harm requires that prison officials take reasonable 27 measures to guarantee the safety and well-being of the prisoner. Id. at 832-33; Frost v. Agnos, 28 152 F.3d 1124, 1128-29 (9th Cir. 1998). Because “only the unnecessary and wanton infliction of 6 1 pain implicates the Eighth Amendment,” plaintiff must allege facts showing the defendant acted 2 with a “sufficiently culpable state of mind.” Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 297 (1991) (internal 3 quotation marks, emphasis, and citations omitted). 4 5 6 III. Legal Standards – Exhaustion A. Prison Litigation Reform Act Because plaintiff is a prisoner challenging the conditions of his confinement, his claims 7 are subject to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). The PLRA 8 mandates that “[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 . 9 . . or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility 10 until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). The 11 exhaustion requirement “applies to all inmate suits about prison life, whether they involve general 12 circumstances or particular episodes, and whether they allege excessive force or some other 13 wrong.” Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002). 14 Regardless of the relief sought, a prisoner must pursue an appeal through all levels of a 15 prison’s grievance process as long as some remedy remains available. “The obligation to exhaust 16 ‘available’ remedies persists as long as some remedy remains ‘available.’ Once that is no longer 17 the case, then there are no ‘remedies . . . available,’ and the prisoner need not further pursue the 18 grievance.” Brown v. Valoff, 422 F.3d 926, 935 (9th Cir. 2005) (emphasis and alteration in 19 original) (citing Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 736 (2001)). 20 “Under § 1997e(a), the exhaustion requirement hinges on the ‘availab[ility]’ of 21 administrative remedies: An inmate . . . must exhaust available remedies, but need not exhaust 22 unavailable ones.” Ross v. Blake, 136 S. Ct. 1850, 1858 (2016) (brackets in original). In 23 discussing availability in Ross the Supreme Court identified three circumstances in which 24 administrative remedies were unavailable: (1) where an administrative remedy “operates as a 25 simple dead end” in which officers are “unable or consistently unwilling to provide any relief to 26 aggrieved inmates;” (2) where an administrative scheme is “incapable of use” because “no 27 ordinary prisoner can discern or navigate it;” and (3) where “prison administrators thwart inmates 28 from taking advantage of a grievance process through machination, misrepresentation, or 7 1 intimidation.” Id. at 1859-60. “[A]side from [the unavailability] exception, the PLRA’s text 2 suggests no limits on an inmate’s obligation to exhaust—irrespective of any ‘special 3 circumstances.’” Id. at 1856. “[M]andatory exhaustion statutes like the PLRA establish 4 mandatory exhaustion regimes, foreclosing judicial discretion.” Id. at 1857. 5 “[F]ailure to exhaust is an affirmative defense under the PLRA.” Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 6 199, 216 (2007). It is the defendant’s burden “to prove that there was an available administrative 7 remedy.” Albino, 747 F.3d at 1172 (citing Hilao v. Estate of Marcos, 103 F.3d 767, 778 n.5 (9th 8 Cir. 1996)). The burden then “shifts to the prisoner to come forward with evidence showing that 9 there is something in his particular case that made the existing and generally available 10 11 administrative remedies unavailable to him.” Id. A prisoner is required to exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit. McKinney v. 12 Carey, 311 F.3d 1198, 1199 (9th Cir. 2002) (per curium). Section 1997e(a) mandates that “[n]o 13 action shall be brought . . . until [the prisoner’s] administrative remedies . . . are exhausted. 42 14 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). “The ‘available’ ‘remed[y]’ must be ‘exhausted’ before a complaint under § 15 1983 may be entertained.” Booth, 532 U.S. at 738. “Exhaustion subsequent to the filing of suit 16 will not suffice.” McKinney, 311 F.3d at 1199. 17 18 B. California Regulations Governing Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies “The California prison system’s requirements ‘define the boundaries of proper 19 exhaustion.’” Marella v. Terhune, 568 F.3d 1024, 1027 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Jones, 549 U.S. 20 at 218). In order to exhaust, the prisoner is required to complete the administrative review 21 process in accordance with all applicable procedural rules. Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 90 22 (2006). California regulations allow a prisoner to “appeal” any action or inaction by prison staff 23 that has “a material adverse effect upon his or her health, safety, or welfare.” Cal. Code Regs. tit. 24 15, § 3084.1(a). The appeal process is initiated by the inmate’s filing a “Form 602” the 25 “Inmate/Parolee Appeal Form,” “to describe the specific issue under appeal and the relief 26 requested.” Id. § 3084.2(a). 27 “The California prison grievance system has three levels of review: an inmate exhausts 28 administrative remedies by obtaining a decision at each level.” Reyes v. Smith, 810 F.3d 654, 8 1 657 (9th Cir. 2016) (citing Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3084.1(b); Harvey v. Jordan, 605 F.3d 681, 2 683 (9th Cir. 2010)). 3 IV. Material Facts Defendants filed a Statement of Undisputed Facts (“DSUF”) as required by Local Rule 4 5 260(a). (ECF No. 53-2.) Plaintiff’s filing in opposition to defendants’ motion for summary 6 judgment fails to strictly comply with Local Rule 260(b). (ECF No. 60.) Rule 260(b) requires 7 that a party opposing a motion for summary judgment “reproduce the itemized facts in the State 8 of Undisputed Facts and admit those facts that are undisputed and deny those that are disputed, 9 including with each denial a citation to the particular portions of any pleading, affidavit, 10 deposition, interrogatory answer, admission, or other document relied upon in support of that 11 denial.” However, in light of plaintiff’s pro se status the court has reviewed plaintiff’s filings in 12 an effort to discern whether he denies any material fact in defendants’ statement of undisputed 13 facts. The court is mindful of the Ninth Circuit’s instruction that district courts are to “construe 14 15 liberally motion papers and pleadings filed by pro se inmates and should avoid applying summary 16 judgment rules strictly.” Thomas v. Ponder, 611 F.3d 1144, 1150 (9th Cir. 2010). Accordingly, 17 the court considers the record before it in its entirety despite plaintiff’s failure to be in strict 18 compliance with the applicable rules. However, only those assertions in the opposition that have 19 evidentiary support in the record will be considered. In light of plaintiff’s pro se status, the court 20 has reviewed plaintiff’s filings in an effort to discern whether he denies any material fact asserted 21 in the defendant’s DSUF. While the parties dispute a number of facts, the court’s findings do not 22 depend on any of those disputed facts. 23 A. General Facts 24 At all times relevant to the claim, plaintiff was a state inmate incarcerated at HDSP. 25 (DSUF (ECF No. 53-2) at ¶ 1.) Defendants Young, Monk, and Carpenter were correctional 26 officers working at HDSP. (DSUF (ECF No. 53-2) at ¶ 5.) Defendant Williams was a 27 correctional lieutenant at HDSP in March 2015. (DSUF (ECF No. 53-2) at ¶ 6.) 28 //// 9 1 B. Facts Relating to Cell Assignment and Physical Altercation 2 From November 2014 to March 2015 plaintiff was celled with inmate Vincent Biagas. 3 (DSUF (ECF No. 53-2) at ¶ 4.) Plaintiff submitted requests seeking to move from the cell he 4 shared with Biagas. (Pl.’s Oppo. (ECF No. 63) Exh. D at 41-43.) Plaintiff wanted a cell change 5 because Biagas “was into homosexual stuff,” had indicated “he want[ed] to experience it with 6 [plaintiff],” and persisted even after plaintiff told him he was not interested. (Id.) 7 On March 6, 2015, plaintiff and Biagas were in the dayroom at HDSP. (DSUF (ECF No. 8 53-2) at ¶ 7.) Biagas said “some homosexual stuff to plaintiff,” and plaintiff called Biagas “a sick 9 faggot.” (DSUF (ECF No. 53-2) at ¶ 7.) Biagas punched plaintiff. (DSUF (ECF No. 53-2) at ¶ 10 11 12 8.) Plaintiff punched Biagas in response. (DSUF (ECF No. 53-2) at ¶ 9.) C. Facts Relating to Disciplinary Hearing On March 17, 2015 plaintiff received a copy of California Department of Corrections and 13 Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) 115 Rules Violation Report (RVR), Log No. FB-15-03-004, 14 documenting a serious rules violation for fighting with inmate Biagas. (DSUF (ECF No. 53-2) at 15 ¶ 15.) Williams served as the Senior Hearing Officer (“SHO”) for plaintiff’s March 22, 2015 16 RVR hearing. (DSUF (ECF No. 53-2) at ¶ 17.) Williams determined plaintiff was guilty of 17 fighting based on plaintiff’s response to questions, his reddened knuckles, and the reporting 18 employee’s observation of plaintiff fighting with Biagas. (DSUF (ECF No. 53-2) at ¶¶ 21, 22.) 19 As a result of the guilty finding, plaintiff was assessed 90 days loss of behavioral credit and 20 placed on privilege group C. (DSUF (ECF No. 53-2) at ¶ 23.) 21 22 D. Facts Relating to Exhaustion HDSP has an administrative grievance process consisting of three levels of review. 23 (DSUF (ECF No. 53-2) at ¶ 29.) Plaintiff submitted grievance log no. HDSP-B-15-1029, dated 24 April 16, 2015, regarding the disciplinary hearing in which he was found guilty of fighting. 25 (DSUF (ECF No. 53-2) at ¶ 32.) Plaintiff indicated on the form that he felt the punishment he 26 received was too harsh. (Def.’s Exhibits (ECF 53-3) Exh. G at 57-59.) A second level response 27 was issued on June 17, 2015. (DSUF (ECF No. 53-2) at ¶ 33.) The second-level response stated 28 the charge was appropriately classified as a Division D offense and that due process time 10 1 constraints were met and indicated that plaintiff’s loss of privileges was appropriate under CCR 2 3315(f)(5)(C). (DSUF (ECF No. 53-2) at ¶¶ 34, 35.) Plaintiff was instructed that he could seek 3 Third Level Review if he was dissatisfied with the second level response. (DSUF (ECF No. 53- 4 2) at ¶ 36.) Plaintiff did not submit grievance HDSP-B-15-1029 for third level review. (DSUF 5 (ECF No. 53-2) at ¶ 37.) Plaintiff filed grievance HDSP-B-15-1263 regarding prison officials’ failure to grant him 6 7 a cell move away from inmate Biagas. (Pl.’s Compl. (ECF No. 16 at 18-21; Def.’s Exhibits (ECF 8 No. 53-3) Exh. I at 122-25.) Plaintiff pursued grievance HDSP-B-15-1263 through all three 9 levels of review. (Def.’s Exhibits (ECF No. 53-3) Exh. I at 120 -21.) 10 V. 11 Analysis A. Eighth Amendment Claim In support of their motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment claim 12 13 defendants argue in part that plaintiff cannot show that the harm he suffered was the foreseeable 14 result of the defendants’ failure to grant his request for a cell change. 15 More specifically, defendants allege that plaintiff cannot show that he would not have 16 been injured but for defendants’ actions. (ECF No. 53-1 at 15.) Plaintiff’s actions in responding 17 to Biagas’ statement escalated the conflict and ultimately caused the harm he suffered. (Id.) 18 They also argue that because the fight happened in the dayroom, rather than in their shared cell, 19 that defendants’ failure to grant plaintiff a cell change did not cause plaintiff’s harm. (Id. at 15- 20 16.) 21 “In a § 1983 action, the plaintiff must . . . demonstrate that the defendant’s conduct was 22 the actionable cause of the claimed injury . . . . To meet this causation requirement the plaintiff 23 must establish both causation-in-fact and proximate causation.” Harper v. City of Los Angeles, 24 533 F.3d 1010, 1026 (9th Cir. 2008) (citations omitted). This means that plaintiff’s injury would 25 not have occurred but for the defendants’ conduct (actual causation) and no unforeseeable 26 intervening cause occurred that would supersede defendants’ liability (proximate causation). 27 Conn v. City of Reno, 591 F.3d 1081, 1098-1101 (9th Cir. 2010), vacated by 131 S. Ct. 1812 28 (2011), reinstated in relevant part by 658 F.3d 897 (9th Cir. 2011)). 11 1 Plaintiff has not alleged that he was not involved in the physical altercation with Biagas. 2 Rather, he has acknowledged that once Biagas initiated a physical confrontation, he “fought back 3 because [he] was defending himself.” (Pl.’s Compl. (ECF No. 16) at 19.) Because plaintiff 4 willingly entered into a verbal and physical altercation with his cellmate outside of their shared 5 cell, his own actions were the proximate cause of any injury. See Garces v. Degadeo, No. 1:06- 6 cv-1038 JAT, 2010 WL 796831 at *4 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 5, 2010). Thus, defendants’ failure to grant 7 plaintiff’s request for a cell move, did not cause plaintiff’s harm. 8 9 A failure to show a material issue of fact exists on the issue of causation is sufficient to support a finding that summary judgment should be granted for defendants. Leer v. Murphy, 844, 10 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988) (upholding district court’s grant of summary judgment based on a 11 finding that inmates failed to raise a material issue of fact concerning the requisite causal 12 connection between the prison official’s actions and the alleged Eighth Amendment violation). 13 Accordingly, summary judgment should be granted in favor of defendants Monk, Carpenter, and 14 Young on plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment claim. 15 B. Failure to Exhaust Claims Against Williams 16 Defendants argue that plaintiff failed to fully exhaust his claims against defendant 17 Williams. (ECF No. 53 at 16-17.) Plaintiff argues that grievance HDSP-B-15-1263 satisfies the 18 exhaustion requirement for all of his claims, Williams had knowledge of plaintiff’s claim, and he 19 did not need to exhaust because was seeking only money damages. The court will address each 20 of plaintiff’s arguments in turn. (ECF No. 60 at 23-25.) 21 1. HDSP-B-15-1029 was Not Submitted for Third Level Review 22 Plaintiff submitted two administrative grievances related to the claims in this action. 23 Plaintiff submitted grievance HDSP-B-15-1029 in which he challenged the guilty finding at his 24 rules violation report (“RVR”) hearing and his placement on privilege group C as a result of the 25 guilty finding. (ECF No. 53-3 at 52-116.) Plaintiff also submitted grievance HDSP-B-15-1263 26 regarding his request for a cell move and officers’ failure to protect him from his cellmate. (ECF 27 No. 53-3 at 119-190.) It is undisputed that plaintiff exhausted HDSP-B-15-1263 by submitting 28 //// 12 1 the grievance to the third level for review. The parties also agree that plaintiff submitted HDSP- 2 B-15-1029 for second level review but did not submit the grievance for third level review. 3 2. HDSP-B-15-1263 Does Not Exhaust Claims as to Williams 4 Plaintiff claims that grievance HDSP-B-15-1263 was sufficient to exhaust all of his claims 5 in this action. As stated above, grievance HDSP-B-15-1263 concerned plaintiff’s request for a 6 cell move. Defendants note that plaintiff attempted to include facts regarding his disciplinary 7 hearing when he submitted grievance HDSP-B-15-1263 for third level for review. However, 8 plaintiff was informed that the new issues added were not addressed and thereby unexhausted. 9 (ECF No. 60 at 90.) 10 In order to fully exhaust administrative remedies an appeal must put prison officials on 11 notice of the claim. Sapp v. Kimbrell, 623 F.3d 813, 824 (9th Cir. 2010) (“A grievance suffices 12 to exhaust a claim if it puts the prison on adequate notice of the problem for which the prisoner 13 seeks redress.”). A prisoner puts officials on notice when he provides the detail required by the 14 prison’s regulation. Id. (citing Jones, 549 U.S. at 218). Plaintiff did not include facts related to 15 the disciplinary hearing in his initial submission of grievance HDSP-B-15-1263. (Pl. Compl. 16 (ECF No. 16) at 18-21; Def.’s Exhibits (ECF No. 53-3) Exh. I at 122-25.) Plaintiff was informed 17 in the third level decision that his addition of facts relating to the disciplinary hearing were not 18 considered in the third level review and did not serve to exhaust those allegations. (ECF No. 60 19 at 90.) Grievance HDSP-B-15-1263 related to plaintiff’s claim that defendants Monk, Carpenter, 20 21 and Young violated his rights by failing to grant him a cell move. Thus, it did not serve to put 22 prison officials on notice of his claim that defendant Williams violated his rights during the 23 disciplinary hearing. 24 3. Money Damages are not an Available Remedy 25 Plaintiff argues that he did not have to pursue his administrative grievance through all 26 three levels of review because the relief he sought, money damages, was not an available remedy 27 in the administrative grievance process. (ECF No. 60 at 24-25.) 28 //// 13 The Supreme Court held in Booth v. Churner that under 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) “an inmate 1 2 must exhaust irrespective of the forms of relief sought and offered through administrative 3 avenues.” 532 U.S. 731, 741 fn.6 (2001). “The Booth v. Churner decision effectively overruled 4 the earlier Ninth Circuit decision in Rumbles v. Hill, 182 F.3d 1064 (9th Cir. 1999) cert. denied, 5 528 U.S. 1074 (2000),2 which had provided that exhaustion of administrative remedies was not 6 required if a prisoner’s section 1983 claim seeks only money damages and the grievance process 7 does not allow for such an award.” See Rathburn v. Johnson, No. CV F-00-6713 OWW DLB P, 8 2001 WL 37121289 at *1 Fn.1 (E.D. Cal. June 28, 2001) overruled on other grounds by Rathburn 9 v. Johnson, 52 Fed.Appx. 924 (9th Cir. 2002). 10 11 Accordingly, plaintiff was not relieved of his obligation to fully exhaust grievance HDSPB-15-1029 because the remedy sought was not available through the prison grievance procedure. 12 4. Williams had Notice of the Problem 13 Plaintiff argues that defendant Williams reviewed grievance HDSP-B-15-1263 with the 14 newly included allegations and was thus on notice of plaintiff’s claim. (ECF No. 60 at 23.) 15 Defendants argue in their reply that plaintiff attempted to include new facts to the appeal that was 16 based on the failure to accommodate his cell move, but that the new issues were not addressed 17 and were not exhausted. (ECF No. 62 at 6-7.) That Williams was aware of plaintiff’s claim, is not sufficient to satisfy the PLRA’s 18 19 exhaustion requirement. The only exception provided for by the PLRA is when administrative 20 remedies are unavailable. Ross, 136 S. Ct. at 1859-60. Plaintiff does not argue that 21 administrative remedies were unavailable. Thus, it is undisputed that plaintiff failed to present 22 his administrative grievance regarding Williams’ actions during the disciplinary hearing to the 23 third level for review. Accordingly, the court finds that plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative 24 remedies as to his claim that Williams violated his right under the Due Process and Equal 25 Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. 26 2 27 28 Plaintiff cited Rumbles and other pre-Booth cases in support of his argument that he was not required to pursue administrative remedies because he sought money damages. (ECF No. 60 at 25.) 14 1 Because plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies as to his claims against 2 defendant Williams, the court will recommend that defendants’ motion for summary judgment be 3 granted as to plaintiff’s claims against Williams. Additionally, because the court finds that 4 plaintiff has failed to exhaust these claims, it is not necessary to address the remaining arguments 5 as to these claims. 6 7 8 9 10 11 CONCLUSION For the reasons set forth above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendants’ motion to strike (ECF No. 64) is granted. IT IS HEREBY RECOMMENDED that defendants’ motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 53) be granted. These findings and recommendations are submitted to the United States District Judge 12 assigned to the case, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Within thirty (30) days 13 after being served with these findings and recommendations, any party may file written 14 objections with the court and serve a copy on all parties. Such a document should be captioned 15 “Objections to Magistrate Judge’s Findings and Recommendations.” Any response to the 16 objections shall be served and filed within fourteen days after service of the objections. The 17 parties are advised that failure to file objections within the specified time may waive the right to 18 appeal the District Court’s order. Martinez v. Ylst, 951 F.2d 1153 (9th Cir. 1991). 19 Dated: February 15, 2021 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 15 1 DLB:12 DLB:1/Orders/Prisoner.Civil.Rights/tran1260.msj.f&rs 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 16

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