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Johnson v. Juvera

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

October 22, 2013

Richard Johnson, Plaintiff,
Sergeant Juvera, et al., Defendants.


G. MURRAY SNOW, District Judge.

Plaintiff Richard Johnson brought this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 against multiple Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) employees (Doc. 1). Before the Court are three Motions for Summary Judgment filed by four of the Defendants (Docs. 118, 127, 130).

The Court will grant all three motions. The Court will also issue an Order to Show Cause to Plaintiff directing him to show cause why the remaining Defendant, Correctional Officer (CO) II Lemuel Jackson, should not be dismissed for failure to serve.

I. Background

Plaintiff's claim arose during his confinement at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis, Rast Unit (Doc. 1 at 1). He named the following Defendants: (1) Sergeant Manual Juvera; (2) CO II Jackson; (3) CO II Davis Cruz; (4) CO II Larry Brown; and (5) CO II Mark Reed (id. at 1A-2A).

In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Juvera and Jackson were deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of harm when they allowed inmates to pass through a metal detector without any patdown after setting off the alarm (id. at 5). Plaintiff averred that the inmate who sounded the alarm on June 16, 2010, stabbed Plaintiff later that day (id.).

Plaintiff alleged that Cruz and Brown were deliberately indifferent when they allowed inmates from different units, who were to be kept separate and on lock down, to be out in the recreation yard (id. at 5-5A). Plaintiff further alleged that Reed was deliberately indifferent when, as the tower officer, he was inattentive to his duties and permitted inmates onto the yard although they were to be separated and locked in their cells (id. at 5A).

Plaintiff contends that, as a result of Defendants' actions and inactions, on June 16, 2010, he was stabbed by an inmate who triggered the metal detector but was permitted to pass through without an additional search. Plaintiff states that his injuries required a dozen staples to close his upper chest and the area below his left arm pit (id. at 5-5C).[1]

Defendants have filed three separate Motions for Summary Judgment: (1) Brown's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 118), joined by Cruz (Doc. 125); (2) Juvera's Motion for Summary Judgement (Doc. 127); and (3) Reed's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 130).[2]

II. Governing Standards

A. Summary Judgment

A court must grant summary judgment "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The movant bears the initial responsibility of presenting the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record, together with affidavits, that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex , 477 U.S. at 323.

If the movant fails to carry its initial burden of production, the nonmovant need not produce anything. Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co., Ltd. v. Fritz Co., Inc. , 210 F.3d 1099, 1102-03 (9th Cir. 2000). But if the movant meets its initial responsibility, the burden shifts to the nonmovant to demonstrate the existence of a factual dispute and that the fact in contention is material, i.e., a fact that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, and that the dispute is genuine, i.e., the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmovant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248, 250 (1986); see Triton Energy Corp. v. Square D. Co. , 68 F.3d 1216, 1221 (9th Cir. 1995). The nonmovant need not establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor, First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co. , 391 U.S. 253, 288-89 (1968); however, it must "come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (internal citation omitted); see Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1).

At summary judgment, the judge's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson , 477 U.S. at 249. In its analysis, the court must believe the nonmovant's evidence, and draw all inferences in the nonmovant's favor. Id. at 255. The court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider any other materials in the record. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3).

B. Eighth Amendment

Under the Eighth Amendment, "prison officials have a duty... to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other prisoners." Farmer v. Brennan , 511 U.S. 825, 833 (1994). But "not... every injury suffered by one prisoner at the hands of another... translates into constitutional liability for prison officials responsible for the victim's safety." Id. at 834. A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment in failing to protect one inmate from another only when two conditions are met. First, the alleged constitutional deprivation must be, objectively, "sufficiently serious;" the official's act or omission must result in the denial of "the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities." Id . Second, the prison official must have a "sufficiently culpable state of mind, " i.e., he must act with deliberate indifference to inmate health or safety. Id . To demonstrate that a prison official was deliberately indifferent to the threat of serious harm or injury by another prisoner, a plaintiff must show that the "the official [knew] of and disregard[ed] an excessive risk to inmate... safety; the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and [the official] must also draw the inference." Id. at 837; Gibson v. County of Washoe , 290 F.3d 1175, 1187-88 (9th Cir. 2002). To prove that officials knew of the risk, however, the prisoner may rely on circumstantial evidence; in fact, the very obviousness of the risk may be sufficient to establish knowledge. See Farmer , 511 U.S. at 842; Wallis v. Baldwin , 70 F.3d 1074, 1077 (9th Cir. 1995).

In addition, prison officials who actually knew of a substantial risk to inmate health or safety may be found free from liability if they responded reasonably to the risk, even if the harm ultimately was not averted. A prison official's duty under the Eighth Amendment is to ensure ...

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