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Rodrigues v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

July 6, 2018

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



         Plaintiff Anthony L. Rodrigues, who was formerly confined in the Red Rock Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona, brought this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 20.) Defendants move for summary judgment based on failure to exhaust administrative remedies, and Plaintiff opposes.[1] (Docs. 91, 127.) Also pending before the Court is a Report and Recommendation from the Magistrate Judge regarding Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint.[2] (Doc. 103.)

         I. Background

         In his First Amended Complaint (FAC), Plaintiff named as Defendants Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) Director Charles Ryan; ADC Contract Bed Bureau Director Tara R. Diaz; Management Training Corporation (MTC), which operated the Arizona State Prison Complex (ASPC)-Kingman when Plaintiff was housed there in July 2015; former ASP-Kingman Warden Pamela Rider; former ASP-Kingman Deputy Warden Hector Santiago; former ASP-Kingman Associate Deputy Warden Shahana Frederick; former ASP-Kingman Chief of Security James Winkler; and MTC Senior Vice President Oddie Washington. (Doc. 20 at 2-3.)

         Plaintiff's claims arose from a riot that took place at the ASP-Kingman in early July 2015. (Id. at 8.) Plaintiff alleged that Defendants, through a lack of training, oversight and staffing, and in order to save costs, allowed the prison to devolve to the point where a riot broke out. Plaintiff did not participate in the riot but he was injured when prison personnel responded to the riot. (Id. at 8-15.) As a result of the riot, Plaintiff suffered pain and discomfort, mental and emotional injuries, aggravation to preexisting medical conditions that required hospitalization, property loss and damage. (Id. at 19.) After the riot, Plaintiff was transferred to the Red Rock Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona. (Id. at 17.)

         On screening of Plaintiff's FAC pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the Court determined that Plaintiff stated an Eighth Amendment threat-to-safety claim in Count Two and ordered Defendants Ryan, Rider, Santiago, Diaz, Winkler, and Frederick to answer that claim. (Doc. 27 (adopting Doc. 22, Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation).) The Court also determined that Plaintiff stated a negligence claim under Arizona law in Count Three and ordered Defendants MTC, Washington, Rider, Santiago, Diaz, Winkler, and Frederick to answer that claim and for MTC to answer the negligent training claim in Count Three. (Id.) The Court dismissed the remaining claims. (Id.)

         In a December 6, 2017 Order, the Court granted in part and denied in part Defendants Ryan, Diaz, Rider, Winkler, and Santiago's Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 72.) The Court granted the motion as to Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment official capacity claims against Ryan and Diaz and Plaintiff's state law negligence claim against Diaz. (Id. at 8.) The Court denied Defendants' motion on the basis of failure to exhaust administrative remedies because the Court could not conclude from the face of the FAC that administrative remedies were made available to Plaintiff and that he failed to exhaust them. (Id. at 4, 8.) The Court permitted Defendants to renew their exhaustion argument in a properly supported summary judgment motion. (Id. at 8.)

         On January 2, 2018, Defendants Ryan, Diaz, Rider, Winkler, Washington, Santiago, and MTC filed the pending Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing this lawsuit. (Doc. 91.) The Magistrate Judge subsequently stayed all discovery unrelated to the exhaustion issue pending the Court's ruling on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 109.)

         On January 9, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint (SAC). (Doc. 99.) The Magistrate Judge has screened the SAC and issued a Report and Recommendation (R&R), recommending that:

1. Count One of the SAC be dismissed without prejudice.[3]
2. Defendants Doe, Santiago, Rider, Winkler, Frederick, Ryan (in his individual capacity only), and Diaz (in his individual capacity only) answer the Eighth Amendment threat-to-safety claim in Count Two of the SAC.
3. Defendants MTC, Washington, Rider, Santiago, Winkler, and Frederick answer the Arizona common law negligence claim in Count Three of the SAC.
4. Defendant MTC answer the negligent training claim in Count Three of the SAC.
5. Counts Four, Five and Six of the SAC be dismissed without prejudice. (Doc. 103 at 8-9.)

         The R&R further recommends that the Court require Plaintiff to file a “Notice of Substitution” within 60 days of the Court adopting the R&R to substitute Defendant Doe's actual name. (Id. at 9.)

         II. The Report and Recommendation

         A. Legal Standard

         This Court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). It is “clear that the district judge must review the magistrate judge's findings and recommendations de novo if objection is made, but not otherwise.” United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc); accord Schmidt v. Johnstone, 263 F.Supp.2d 1219, 1226 (D. Ariz. 2003) (“Following Reyna-Tapia, this Court concludes that de novo review of factual and legal issues is required if objections are made, ‘but not otherwise.'”); Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Ctr. v. U.S. Bureau of Land Mgmt., 589 F.3d 1027, 1032 (9th Cir. 2009) (the district court “must review de novo the portions of the [magistrate judge's] recommendations to which the parties object.”). District courts are not required to conduct “any review at all . . . of any issue that is not the subject of an objection.” Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149 (1985) (emphasis added); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (“A judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the [R & R] to which objection is made.”).

         B. Discussion

         The parties were instructed of the time in which to file written objections to the R&R. (Doc. 103.) See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). No party has filed an objection to the R&R. The Court has reviewed the R&R and will adopt it in part with the modification set forth above regarding Count One.

         III. 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, 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. Exhaustion

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, a prisoner must exhaust “available” administrative remedies before filing an action in federal court. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); Vaden v. Summerhill, 449 F.3d 1047, 1050 (9th Cir. 2006); Brown v. Valoff, 422 F.3d 926, 934-35 (9th Cir. 2005). The prisoner must complete the administrative review process in accordance with the applicable rules. See Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 92 (2006). Exhaustion is required for all suits about prison life, Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 523 (2002), regardless of the type of relief offered through the administrative process, Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741 (2001).

         The defendant bears the initial burden to show that there was an available administrative remedy and that the prisoner did not exhaust it. Albino v. Baca, 747 F.3d 1162, 1169, 1172 (9th Cir. 2014); see Brown, 422 F.3d at 936-37 (a defendant must demonstrate that applicable relief remained available in the grievance process). Once that showing is made, the burden shifts to the prisoner, who must either demonstrate that he, in fact, exhausted administrative remedies or “come forward with evidence showing that there is something in his particular case that made the existing and generally available administrative remedies effectively unavailable to him.” Albino, 747 F.3d at 1172. The ultimate burden, however, rests with the defendant. Id. Summary judgment is appropriate if the undisputed evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the prisoner, shows a failure to exhaust. Id. at 1166, 1168; see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a).

         If summary judgment is denied, disputed factual questions relevant to exhaustion should be decided by the judge; a plaintiff is not entitled to a jury trial on the issue of exhaustion. Albino, 747 F.3d at 1170-71. But if a court finds that the prisoner exhausted administrative remedies, that administrative remedies were not available, or that the failure to exhaust administrative remedies should be excused, the case proceeds to the merits. Id. at 1171.

         IV. ...

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