Navarro v. Vindiola et al

Filing 8

ORDER SETTING BRIEFING SCHEDULE. Signed by Judge ARMSTRONG on 5/3/10. (lrc, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 5/5/2010)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 I. v. JOHN J. NAVARRO, IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA No. C 09-1858 SBA (PR) ORDER SETTING BRIEFING SCHEDULE Plaintiff, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER VINDIOLA, ET AL., Defendants. _______________________________________/ INTRODUCTION Plaintiff, a state prisoner currently incarcerated at the California State Prison - Corcoran, has filed a pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that prison officials at Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) were deliberately indifferent towards a serious threat to Plaintiff's physical safety which he was housed at SVSP. In his complaint, Plaintiff names SVSP Correctional Officers Vindiola and Rodriguez. Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief and monetary damages. Venue is proper because the events giving rise to the claim are alleged to have occurred at SVSP, which is located in this judicial district. See 28 U.S.C. 1391(b). Because Plaintiff has paid the full filing fee, summons for all the named Defendants were issued by the Clerk of the Court and sent to Plaintiff to serve. Defendants Vindiola and Rodriguez, who are represented by the State Attorney General's Office, have filed a waiver of their right to reply to the complaint as well as a demand for a jury trial. The Court now reviews the claims in Plaintiff's complaint under 28 U.S.C. 1915A. DISCUSSION Standard of Review A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. 1915A(a). In its review, the court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). II. Deliberate Indifference Claim The Eighth Amendment requires that prison officials take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of prisoners. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). In particular, prison officials have a duty to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other prisoners. See id. at 833; Hoptowit v. Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1250 (9th Cir. 1982); Gillespie v. Civiletti, 629 F.2d 637, 642 & n.3 (9th Cir. 1980). However, a prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only when two requirements are met: (1) the deprivation alleged is, objectively, sufficiently serious; and (2) the prison official is, subjectively, deliberately indifferent to inmate safety. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. Deliberate indifference occurs when an official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety. Id. at 837. The official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference. See id. Neither negligence nor gross negligence are sufficient to constitute deliberate indifference. Id. at 835-36, n.4; see also Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976) (establishing that deliberate indifference requires more than negligence). Plaintiff alleges that on May 18, 2008, Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his physical safety by housing him in a "confined 'yard cell'" along with inmate Lopez, a rival gang member. (Compl. at 3.) Plaintiff alleges that "[d]ue to their known and documented sworn enemy status, Plaintiff and inmate Lopez engaged in mutual combat." (Id.) Plaintiff claims that Defendants acted with deliberate indifference by ignoring his repeated requests to be housed with a "correct and compatible inmate." (Id. at 5.) Furthermore, Plaintiff claims that Defendants "knew, ignored, or failed to assess the serious and documented risks associated with housing two rival 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 inmates in a common caged area in contravention of well-established CDCR policies and procedures which understandably prohibit contact amongst inmates who are documents as incompatible." (Id. at 3.) As result of the "mutual combat" involving inmate Lopez, Plaintiff claims he suffered physical injuries, including broken ribs, lacerations and abrasions. (Id.) Liberally construing the complaint, Plaintiff has stated a cognizable claim against Defendants Vindiola and Rodriguez for deliberate indifference to his safety. Plaintiff, however, is cautioned that in order to prevail on his claim he must demonstrate that Defendants Vindiola and Rodriguez did more than just carelessly fail to follow procedures; Plaintiff must demonstrate that they consciously realized that he faced a serious security risk if he was housed under those conditions, but that they still housed him under those conditions nonetheless. Only then would Defendants Vindiola and Rodriguez be liable for an Eighth Amendment violation. Plaintiff also claims that Defendants' actions of being deliberately indifferent to his safety needs violated the Fourteenth Amendment; however, only pretrial detainees are protected from punishment without due process under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 746-47 (1987). Here, Plaintiff claims the alleged violation took place at SVSP. Thus, as mentioned above, it is the Eighth Amendment requires that prison officials, such as Defendants Vindiola and Rodriguez, take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of prisoners, such as Plaintiff. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 832. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment claim is DISMISSED. CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons, the Court orders as follows: 1. Plaintiff states a cognizable Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Vindiola and Rodriguez for acting with deliberate indifference toward a serious threat to Plaintiff's physical safety. 2. Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment claim is DISMISSED. 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3. The following briefing schedule shall govern dispositive motions in this action: a. No later than sixty (60) days from the date of this Order, Defendants shall file a motion for summary judgment or other dispositive motion. The motion shall be supported by adequate factual documentation and shall conform in all respects to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. If Defendants are of the opinion that this case cannot be resolved by summary judgment, Defendants shall so inform the Court prior to the date the summary judgment motion is due. All papers filed with the Court shall be promptly served on Plaintiff. b. Plaintiff's opposition to the dispositive motion shall be filed with the Court and served on Defendants no later than forty-five (45) days after the date on which Defendants' motion is filed. The Ninth Circuit has held that the following notice should be given to pro se plaintiffs facing a summary judgment motion: The defendant has made a motion for summary judgment by which they seek to have your case dismissed. A motion for summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure will, if granted, end your case. Rule 56 tells you what you must do in order to oppose a motion for summary judgment. Generally, summary judgment must be granted when there is no genuine issue of material fact -- that is, if there is no real dispute about any fact that would affect the result of your case, the party who asked for summary judgment is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, which will end your case. When a party you are suing makes a motion for summary judgment that is properly supported by declarations (or other sworn testimony), you cannot simply rely on what your complaint says. Instead, you must set out specific facts in declarations, depositions, answers to interrogatories, or authenticated documents, as provided in Rule 56(e), that contradict the facts shown in the defendant's declarations and documents and show that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. If you do not submit your own evidence in opposition, summary judgment, if appropriate, may be entered against you. If summary judgment is granted [in favor of the defendants], your case will be dismissed and there will be no trial. See Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 962-63 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc). Plaintiff is advised to read Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986) (party opposing summary judgment must come forward with evidence showing triable issues of material fact on every essential element of his claim). Plaintiff is cautioned that because he bears the burden of proving his allegations in this case, he must be prepared to produce evidence in support of those allegations when he files his opposition to Defendants' dispositive motion. Such evidence may include sworn declarations from himself and 4 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 other witnesses to the incident, and copies of documents authenticated by sworn declaration. Plaintiff will not be able to avoid summary judgment simply by repeating the allegations of his complaint. c. If Defendants wish to file a reply brief, Defendants shall do so no later than fifteen (15) days after the date Plaintiff's opposition is filed. d. The motion shall be deemed submitted as of the date the reply brief is due. No hearing will be held on the motion unless the Court so orders at a later date. 4. Discovery may be taken in this action in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Leave of the Court pursuant to Rule 30(a)(2) is hereby granted to Defendants to depose Plaintiff and any other necessary witnesses confined in prison. 5. All communications by Plaintiff with the Court must be served on Defendants' counsel, by mailing a true copy of the document to Defendants' counsel. 6. It is Plaintiff's responsibility to prosecute this case. Plaintiff must keep the Court informed of any change of address and must comply with the Court's orders in a timely fashion. 7. Extensions of time are not favored, though reasonable extensions will be granted. Any motion for an extension of time must be filed no later than fifteen (15) days prior to the deadline sought to be extended. IT IS SO ORDERED. DATED:_5/3/10 ________________________________ SAUNDRA BROWN ARMSTRONG United States District Judge G:\PRO-SE\SBA\CR.09\Navarro1858.briefingSCHED.wpd 5 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 G:\PRO-SE\SBA\CR.09\Navarro1858.briefingSCHED.wpd 6 John J. Navarro T-75240 California State Prison - Corcoran P.O. Box 3476 Corcoran, CA 93212-3476 Dated: May 5, 2010 Richard W. Wieking, Clerk By: LISA R CLARK, Deputy Clerk v. CORRECTIONAL OFFICER VINDIOLA (SVSP), ET AL et al, Defendant. / UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA JOHN J. NAVARRO, Plaintiff, Case Number: CV09-01858 SBA CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE I, the undersigned, hereby certify that I am an employee in the Office of the Clerk, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. That on May 5, 2010, I SERVED a true and correct copy(ies) of the attached, by placing said copy(ies) in a postage paid envelope addressed to the person(s) hereinafter listed, by depositing said envelope in the U.S. Mail, or by placing said copy(ies) into an inter-office delivery receptacle located in the Clerk's office.

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