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Reyna v. Bearden

United States District Court, D. Idaho

September 29, 2016

OSWALD REYNA, Plaintiff,
v.
LARRY BEARDEN, Clinician, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          Ronald E. Bush Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Oswald Reyna's prisoner civil rights action arises from his stay in, and removal from, the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC) sex offender treatment program (SOTP) at the Idaho Correctional Institution-Orofino (ICI-O), a program that was a prerequisite to qualifying for release on parole. Pending before the Court is Defendant Larry Bearden's Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative Motion for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. 31.) Also pending are Defendant's Motion for Leave to File a Supplemental Affidavit (Dkt. 34), and Plaintiff Oswald Reyna's Motion for Extension of Time to File Reply. (Dkt. 35.)

         The motions are now fully briefed. All parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all proceedings in this case in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Dkt. 15.) Having reviewed the record, the Court concludes that oral argument is unnecessary and enters the following Order.

         PRELIMINARY MOTIONS

         Defendant has filed a Motion for Leave to File a Supplemental Affidavit (Dkt. 34), seeking to add to the record the Affidavit of Brenda Layne, containing additional relevant information discovered after the Motion for Summary Judgment was filed. Good cause appearing, the Motion will be granted.

         Plaintiff Oswald Reyna has requested an extension of time in which to respond to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. 35.) He has since filed his Response. Good cause appearing, the Motion will be granted, and the Response is considered timely.

         MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

         Both parties have submitted evidence beyond the pleadings to be considered by the Court in its determination of whether the remaining claims are subject to dismissal. Therefore, the Court will decide Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment under Rule 56, which renders moot the alternative Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b).

         1. Standard of Law

         Summary judgment is appropriate where a party can show that, as to a particular claim or defense, "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). One of the principal purposes of the summary judgment rule "is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses." 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.

         Rule 56(c) provides:

A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by:
(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.

         "[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment...." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). Rather, there must be a genuine dispute as to a material fact essential to an important element of the cause of action or defense to survive summary judgment. Disputes over facts that are not material to the resolution of the motion will not preclude summary judgment. T. W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass 'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).

         The Court must consider "the cited materials, " but it may also consider "other materials in the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3). The existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the non-moving party's position is insufficient. Rather, "there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party]." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         Material used to support or dispute a fact should be "presented in a form that would be admissible in evidence, " or it may be subject to objection. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(2).[1] Affidavits or declarations submitted in support of or in opposition to a motion "must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant or declarant is competent to testify on the matters stated." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4).

         If a party "fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact, " the Court may consider that fact to be undisputed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2). The Court may grant summary judgment for the moving party "if the motion and supporting materials-including the facts considered undisputed-show that the movant is entitled to it." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(3). The Court may also grant summary judgment to a non-moving party, on a ground not raised by either party, or sua sponte provided that the parties are given notice and a reasonable opportunity to respond. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(f).

         The Court does not decide credibility of affiants or weigh the evidence set forth by the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. That means a party's or witness's sworn statement must be taken as true for purposes of summary judgment. The Court must also draw all reasonable inferences from circumstantial evidence in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, T. W. Elec. Serv., Inc., 809 F.2d at 630-31, but it is not required to adopt unreasonable inferences from circumstantial evidence. McLaughlin v. Liu, 849 F.2d 1205, 1207-088 (9th Cir. 1988) (observing fast Matsushita Electric Industrial Company v. Zenith Radio Corporation, 475 U.S. 574 (1986), "authorizes an inquiry on summary judgment into the 'implausibility' of inferences from circumstantial evidence ..., not an inquiry into the credibility of direct evidence.").

         2. Background

         The Court previously granted summary judgment to Defendant Bearden on the retaliation claim asserted in the original Complaint arising from Defendant Bearden's revision and resubmission of the DOR regarding the Officer Cox incident (described in the timeline below). As to that claim, the Court ruled that, even if Bearden revised and resubmitted the DOR based on a retaliatory motive, Plaintiff had no retaliation claim because the DOR had a legitimate penological purpose-that is, to bring attention to and punish behavior that was inappropriate.

         Plaintiff then filed an Amended Complaint, asserting additional acts of retaliation that he gleaned from the discovery responses of Defendant. Now at issue are Plaintiffs claims that Defendant retaliated against him (1) by allegedly falsely reporting to the Team Case Management (TCM) committee that Plaintiff had continued the behaviors that led to his removal from the SOTP; (2) by informing the TCM committee that Plaintiff had been removed due to sexual misconduct, rather than due to parole board action; and (3) by manufacturing false information and using it in a Pathway Exception Request (PER) to raise Plaintiffs pathway assessment number from 11 to 13, instead of lowering it to 9, as assessment results indicated.

         The following facts are undisputed or, if disputed, the proffered fact most favorable to Plaintiff has been included, or both proffered facts have been noted.

02/20/13 Plaintiff was issued a Class C Disciplinary Offense Report (DOR) for disobedience to orders for writing a letter to his family, and he was removed from the Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP). (Dkt. 24-4, p. 19.)
03/2013 Plaintiff returned to the SOTP.
04/22/13 Plaintiff allegedly unintentionally brushed up against another inmate in the showering area. Plaintiff was issued a Class B DOR for sexual threats and harassment for the shower incident and was removed from the SOTP program. (Dkt. 24-4, p. 19.)
08/09/13 Plaintiff returned to the SOTP. He did not lose his parole date after the showering incident DOR. Defendant Bearden expressed his disbelief that Plaintiff still had his parole date. (Dkt. 24-4, p. 21.)
08/21/13 Defendant Bearden told Plaintiff that he believed Plaintiff was grooming other inmates in the SOTP by being ingratiating. Bearden said he believed Plaintiff was doing another inmate's work assignments for him and confronted Plaintiff in an angry, mocking way. (Dkt. 24-4, pp. 7, 29.)
08/16/13 Defendant Bearden warned Plaintiff about "acting out" and told Plaintiff he was keeping an eye on him. Plaintiff denied any wrongdoing. Bearden told Plaintiff to create a coping plan to help him manage his sexual thoughts and urges. Plaintiff felt threatened and harassed by Bearden. (Dkt. 21-3, p. 28.)
08/27/13 Inmate Rosales entered the SOTP. Plaintiff said he knew Rosales has sex with other inmates, and Plaintiff advised him to be careful about acting out in the unit, especially in the showers. Plaintiff told Rosales about the DOR he got and the trouble it caused him. Plaintiff wrote in his journal, "I asked Rosales to sit w/ me at dinner and gave advi[c]e." (Dkt. 21-4. p. 3.)
10/09/13 Rosales submitted a cardinal rule violation (a serious violation that could cause one to be removed from the SOTP), alleging that Plaintiff had made an inappropriate sexual comment to him (the record does not reveal the substance of the allegations). On that same day, Plaintiff asked Officer Elizabeth Cox about the violation. (Dkt. 21-4, p. 3.)
10/10/13 Cox reported the incident to Defendant Bearden by email. Bearden interrogated Plaintiff for a lengthy period of time about the Cox incident, despite Plaintiffs comments to Bearden that Plaintiff was becoming confused. Plaintiff finally agreed with Bearden to escape the interrogation. Three other employees were present. (Dkt. 24-2, p. 23.)
10/15/13 Defendant Bearden wrote a DOR regarding the Cox incident. Plaintiff attended the hearing on the DOR and admitted that he could see how his statements to Ms. Cox could have been construed by her as manipulation, but he also maintained that Bearden had taken advantage of Plaintiff s mental illness and manipulated him into agreeing that he was guilty. (Dkt. 3-1, p. 1; Dkt. 19, audiorecording of DOR hearing.)
10/27/13 At some point in October 2013, Plaintiff was removed from the SOTP. Plaintiff complained to Clinician Wendy Gebhart that Bearden had been harassing ...

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