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Hill v. Wamble-Fisher

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

June 24, 2013

DAVID TYLER HILL, Plaintiff,
v.
SHELL WAMBLE-FISHER; CYNTHIA RICHMOND; SERGEANT WEBB; HEATHER DUNHAM; ARIS DUNCAN; RUSSEL NITCHALS; LIEUTENANT BUTLER; ARVEL SHEDD; JEFF HENRY; KATHLEEN NIECKO; BRENT REINKE; and IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

RONALD E. BUSH, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff asks the Court to Reconsider (Dkt. 49) the Court's March 25, 2013, Order granting in part Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint and dismissing some of Plaintiff's claims (Dkt. 48). Having reviewed the record, and otherwise being fully informed, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court conclusively finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, this matter shall be decided on the record before this Court without oral argument. D. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 7.1.

1. Standard of Law

Plaintiff moves for reconsideration under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). (Mot. for Recons., Dkt. 49, at 1.) That rule does not apply, however, because the March 25 Order was not a final order or judgment. See United States v. Martin, 226 F.3d 1042, 1048 n.8 (9th Cir. 2000) ("Rule 59(e)[] applies only to motions attacking final, appealable orders...."). Therefore, the Court construes the motion as a motion for reconsideration under the Court's "inherent procedural power to reconsider, rescind, or modify an interlocutory order for cause seen by it to be sufficient." City of L.A., Harbor Division v. Santa Monica Baykeeper, 254 F.3d 882, 885 (9th Cir. 2001) (internal quotation mark and emphasis omitted). Although courts have authority to reconsider prior orders, they "should be loathe to do so in the absence of extraordinary circumstances such as where the initial decision was clearly erroneous and would work a manifest injustice.'" Christianson v. Colt Indus. Operating Corp. 486 U.S. 800, 817 (1988) (quoting Arizona v. California, 460 U.S. 605, 618 n. 8 (1983)).

2. Discussion

For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff has failed to meet the high standard that would warrant the Court's reconsideration of its March 25 Order. The Motion will be denied.

In general, Plaintiff's Motion is no more than a disagreement with the Court's legal analysis as set forth in the March 25 Order. He has not offered any new factual allegations, pointed to any newly-issued case law that would affect the Court's analysis, or explained how the Court's March 25 Order was clearly erroneous or results in manifest injustice. The Court addresses some of Plaintiff's more specific objections below.

A. Retaliation Claim

Plaintiff claims he was issued a Disciplinary Offense Report (DOR), for disrespecting staff, in retaliation for using the prison grievance system. "A prisoner suing prison officials under section 1983 for retaliation must allege that he was retaliated against for exercising his constitutional rights and that the retaliatory action does not advance legitimate penological goals, such as preserving institutional order and discipline." Barnett v. Centoni, 31 F.3d 813, 815-16 (9th Cir. 1994) (per curiam). Although use of the grievance system is generally protected conduct for purposes of a retaliation claim, Plaintiff fails to recognize that the grievance he submitted contained a threat, referring to assaulting and abducting a female staff member by hitting her with a club and dragging her back to his cell. (Second Am. Compl., Dkt. 38, ¶45; Initial Review Order, Dkt. 7, at 8.) Protecting prison staff against threats by prisoners is unquestionably a legitimate penological interest, and issuing a DOR to discourage such behavior is reasonably related to that interest.

Plaintiff also claims that the Idaho Department of Correction has a policy that "expressly forbids any reprisal from staff in response to an inmate's concern form/grievance form even if it contains vulgar, disrespectful, or intimidating language." (Mot. for Recons. at 2.) This policy provides no basis for Plaintiffs' claims, however, because a violation of a state law or regulation is insufficient to support a civil rights claim under § 1983. See Walker v. Sumner, 14 F.3d 1415, 1420 (9th Cir. 1994) (holding that as long as minimum constitutional requirements are met, a prison need not comply with its "own, more generous procedures"), abrogated on other grounds by Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472 (1995); Huron Valley Hosp. v. City of Pontiac, 887 F.2d 710, 714 (6th Cir. 1989) ("[Section 1983] is thus limited to deprivations of federal statutory and constitutional rights. It does not cover official conduct that allegedly violates state law.") (citing Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 146 (1979)).

The Court is not persuaded that it should reconsider its dismissal of Plaintiff's retaliation claim.

B. Eighth Amendment Claims

The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects prisoners against cruel and unusual punishment. To state a claim under the Eighth Amendment, Plaintiff must show that he is "incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm, " or that he has been deprived of "the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities" as a result of Defendants' actions. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994) (internal quotation marks omitted). He must also show that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his needs. Id. at 835. To exhibit deliberate indifference, a prison official "must ...


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