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Rodrigues v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

February 27, 2017

Anthony L. Rodrigues, Plaintiff,
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Defendants.


          David G. Campbell United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Anthony L. Rodrigues, who is currently confined in the Red Rock Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona, brought this civil rights case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants Rider, Diaz, and Ryan now move for summary judgment. (Doc. 166.) The Court issued a notice, as required under Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 962 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc), informing Plaintiff of his right to respond and the requirements for doing so (Doc. 169), and Plaintiff filed a response (Doc. 192). The Court will grant the motion for summary judgment.

         I. Background.

         This action arises from alleged constitutional and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) violations that arose while Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Arizona State Prison (ASP)-Kingman. (Doc. 15.) In his two-count second amended complaint, Plaintiff names as Defendants Charles L. Ryan, Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC); R. Scott Marquardt, President and CEO of Management Training Corporation (MTC); Tara R. Diaz, ADC Contract Beds Bureau Director; and Pamela Rider, Warden at ASP-Kingman's Hualapai Unit. (Id. at 2.) On screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the Court determined that Plaintiff stated Eighth Amendment and ADA claims in count two and directed Defendants to answer these claims. (Doc. 16.) The Court dismissed count one and the remaining claims in count two. Id. The Court subsequently dismissed Defendant Marquardt and Plaintiff's ADA claims in count two. (Doc. 104.) The remaining claims in this action are Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims in count two against Defendants Rider, Diaz, and Ryan (hereinafter “Defendants”).

         The remaining claims are based on the following allegations. Plaintiff has a documented cardiac condition for which he is receiving treatment. On November 26, 2013, Plaintiff was sanctioned for two unexcused absences from a life skills class. As a result, Plaintiff lost his preferred housing and was reassigned to a two-man bunk located in the rear of the dorm, where inmates smoked despite ADC policies prohibiting indoor smoking. After his housing reassignment, Plaintiff was hospitalized at least twice due to the effects of second-hand smoke. Plaintiff requested from at least January 2, 2014 to be reassigned to a new bunk away from the smoking, but he was not moved until June 2014. Defendants were aware of the environmental conditions that were causing Plaintiff serious harm, but they denied his grievances without proper investigation or consideration of his claims. (Doc. 15.)

         II. Legal 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, if any, 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 (a fact that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law) and that the dispute is genuine (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), but 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).

         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. 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.

         To state an Eighth Amendment conditions-of-confinement claim, plaintiffs must meet a two-part test. “First, the alleged constitutional deprivation must be, objectively, sufficiently serious” such that the “official's act or omission must result in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994) (internal quotations omitted). Second, the prison official must have a “sufficiently culpable state of mind, ” that is, he must act with “deliberate indifference to inmate health or safety.” Id. (internal quotations omitted). Deliberate indifference is a higher standard than negligence or lack of ordinary due care for the prisoner's safety. Id. at 835. In defining “deliberate indifference” in this context, the Supreme Court has imposed a subjective test: “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.” Id. at 837 (emphasis added).

         III. Relevant Facts.[1]

         At all relevant times in this action, Plaintiff was an inmate at ASP-Kingman. (Doc. 15 at 1.) Plaintiff was sanctioned in November 2013 for two unexcused absences in a life skills class, and he lost his “phase III” privileges, including preferred housing. (Id. ΒΆ 4.) As a result, Plaintiff was moved from ...

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