United States District Court, D. Arizona
Ronald M. Feldmeier, Plaintiff,
P. Hauser, et al., Defendants.
G. Campbell Senior United States District Judge.
Ronald M. Feldmeier, who is currently confined in
Correctional Training Facility in Soledad, California,
brought this civil rights case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. (Doc. 1.) Defendants move for summary judgment, and
Plaintiff opposes.(Docs. 69, 74.) The Court will grant
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and terminate the
single-count Complaint, Plaintiff sued La Palma Correctional
Center (LPCC) Case Manager P. Hauser, LPCC Unit Manager
R. Williams, and Unknown Call Box Staff for injuries he
sustained when he was assaulted by his cellmate on October 5,
2011. (Doc. 1.) On screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a),
the Court determined that Plaintiff stated an Eighth
Amendment failure-to-protect claim against Defendants Hauser
and Williams and directed them to answer. (Doc. 9.) The Court
dismissed the remaining Defendant. (Id.)
Summary Judgment Standard
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.
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.
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).
Failure to Protect
the Eighth Amendment, prison officials must take reasonable
measures to guarantee the safety of inmates. Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). In particular, prison
officials have an affirmative duty “to protect
prisoners from violence at the hands of other
prisoners.” Id. at 832. A prison
official's failure to protect an inmate from attacks by
other inmates violates the Eighth Amendment only when two
elements are met: (1) the objective element, which requires a
prisoner to show that the complained of conditions posed a
“substantial risk of serious harm”; and (2) the
subjective element, which requires a prisoner to show that
the defendant was deliberately indifferent to that risk.
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834 (citing Wilson v.
Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 297-98 (1991)). A prison official
is deliberately indifferent “if he knows that inmates
face a substantial risk of serious harm and [he] disregards
that risk by failing to take reasonable measures to abate
it.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 844.
the objective prong, “[w]hat is necessary to show
sufficient harm for the purposes of the Cruel and Unusual
Punishment Clause depends on the claim at issue.”
Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 8 (1992). For a
failure-to-protect claim, a plaintiff must show that he was
placed into conditions that posed a substantial risk of
serious harm. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834 (quoting
Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991)). A
prisoner need not wait until he is actually assaulted to
bring an Eighth Amendment claim, see Farmer, 511
U.S. at 845; however, “[g]eneral intimidation,
harassment, and nonspecific threats . . . do not demonstrate
a constitutionally intolerable risk of harm.”
Chandler v. Amsberry, No. 3:08-CV-00962-SI, 2014 WL
1323048, at *7 (D. Or. March 28, 2014) (citing cases).
subjective prong requires “more than ordinary lack of
due care for the prisoner's interest or safety.”
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835 (quotation omitted). To
prove deliberate indifference, a plaintiff must show that the
official knew of and disregarded 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. A plaintiff bringing a
failure-to-protect claim need not show that the defendant
acted or failed to act believing that harm would actually
befall the inmate; “it is enough that the official
acted or failed to act despite his knowledge of a substantial
risk of serious harm.” Id. at 842. To prove
knowledge of the risk, the plaintiff may rely on
circumstantial evidence; in fact, the very obviousness of the
risk may be sufficient to establish knowledge. Id.
context of a failure-to-protect claim, deliberate
indifference “does not require that the guard or
official believe to a moral certainty that one inmate intends
to attack another at a given place at a time certain before
that officer is obligated to take steps to prevent such an
assault, ” but it does require that the official
“have more than a mere suspicion that an attack will
occur.” Berg v. Kincheloe, 794 F.2d 457, 459
(9th Cir.1986) (citations omitted). Negligence and even gross
negligence are not enough to amount to an Eighth Amendment
violation. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835. Deliberate
indifference is not shown by merely stating that a defendant
should have known of a risk; “an official's failure
to alleviate a ...