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Mennick v. Smith

March 16, 2010

NICK BRADLEY MENNICK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
J. SMITH; MICHAEL JOHNSON, KEITH YORDY, LT. GREENLAND, AND SGT. LINK, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable B. Lynn Winmill Chief U. S. District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

Pending before the Court in this prisoner civil rights case are Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 32) and Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Docket No. 35). Having reviewed the briefing submitted by the parties, as well as the record in this case, the Court has determined that oral argument is unnecessary. Accordingly, the Court enters the following Order.

DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

A. Standard of Law

Summary judgment is appropriate where "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). "One of the principal purposes of the summary judgment rule is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims . . . ." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). It is "not . . . a disfavored procedural shortcut," but is instead the "principal tool[ ] by which factually insufficient claims or defenses [can] be isolated and prevented from going to trial with the attendant unwarranted consumption of public and private resources." Id. at 327. "[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).Material facts are those which may affect the outcome of the case. Id. at 248.

The evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and the Court must not make credibility findings. Id. at 255. Direct testimony of the non-movant must be believed, however implausible. Leslie v. Grupo ICA, 198 F.3d 1152, 1159 (9th Cir. 1999). On the other hand, the Court is not required to adopt unreasonable inferences from circumstantial evidence. McLaughlin v. Liu, 849 F.2d 1205, 1208 (9th Cir. 1988).

The Court must be "guided by the substantive evidentiary standards that apply to the case." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. If a claim requires clear and convincing evidence, the issue on summary judgment is whether a reasonable jury could conclude that clear and convincing evidence supports the claim. Id.

The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Devereaux v. Abbey, 263 F.3d 1070, 1076 (9th Cir. 2001) (en banc). To carry this burden, the moving party need not introduce any affirmative evidence (such as affidavits or deposition excerpts) but may simply point out the absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Fairbank v. Wunderman Cato Johnson, 212 F.3d 528, 532 (9th Cir. 2000).

This shifts the burden to the non-moving party to produce evidence sufficient to support a jury verdict in his favor. Anderson, 477 U.S.at 256-57. The non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and show "by [his] affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, or admissions on file" that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

Only admissible evidence may be considered in ruling on a motion for summary judgment. Orr v. Bank of America, 285 F.3d 764, 773 (9th Cir. 2002); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). In determining admissibility for summary judgment purposes, it is the content of the evidence rather than its form that must be considered. Fraser v. Goodale, 342 F.3d 1032, 1036-37 (9th Cir. 2003). If the contents of the evidence could be presented in an admissible form at trial, those contents may be considered on summary judgment even if the evidence itself is hearsay. Id. (affirming consideration of hearsay contents of plaintiff's diary on summary judgment because at trial, plaintiff's testimony of contents would not be hearsay).

Statements in a brief, unsupported by the record, cannot be used to create an issue of fact. Barnes v. Independent Auto. Dealers, 64 F.3d 1389, 1396 n.3 (9th Cir. 1995).

The Ninth Circuit "ha[s] repeatedly held that documents which have not had a proper foundation laid to authenticate them cannot support a motion for summary judgment." Beyene v. Coleman Sec. Services, Inc., 854 F.2d 1179, 1182 (9th Cir.1988) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Authentication, required by Federal Rule of Evidence 901(a), is not satisfied simply by attaching a document to an affidavit. Id. The affidavit must contain "testimony of a witness with personal knowledge of the facts who attests to the identity and due execution of the document." Id.

To prevail on a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the civil rights statute, a plaintiff must show that a violation of his rights protected by the Constitution or created by federal statute occurred, and that it was proximately caused by conduct of a person acting under color of state law. Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991).

B. Material Facts

Plaintiff is an inmate in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction ("IDOC"). Defendants J. Smith, Michael Johnson, Keith Yordy, Lt. Greenland, and Sgt. Link are correctional officers employed at the Idaho Maximum Security Prison. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants kept him in administrative segregation for over two years for vindictive and retaliatory reasons, including retaliation for filing civil rights complaints against the prison. He also alleges that he notified Defendants of threats to his life by prison gangs, but they refused to place him in protective custody. (Second Amended Complaint, p. 1, Docket No. 13; Response to Motion for Summary Judgment, p. 2, Docket No. 34.)

IDOC policy specifies that inmates in restrictive housing receive housing reviews every 90 days and a face-to-face review every year. (Id., Exhibit E.) The 90-day review hearings are supposed to be documented on an IDOC form, but in Plaintiff's case, the form was not filled out; instead, the hearings were documented in his "C-Notes," which are chronological notes of IDOC staff contacts with an inmate. (Id., Exhibit D.)

A timeline of relevant events is as follows:

August 2006 Plaintiff was accused of ...


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