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Salazar v. Blades

United States District Court, D. Idaho

March 16, 2017

VICTOR SALAZAR, Plaintiff,
v.
RANDY BLADES; DAVINA LAU; DEPUTY WARDEN CHRISTIANSEN; IDOC INVESTIGATOR BONGIOVI; IDOC INVESTIGATOR MAES; and KEVIN KEMPF, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          Honorable Ronald E. Bush United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff is a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction (“IDOC”) and is proceeding pro se in this civil rights matter. Currently pending before the Court are the following motions: (1) Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 16), in which Defendants seek dismissal of two claims; (2) Plaintiff's Motion to Amend (Dkt. 26); (3) Plaintiff's Request for Disclosure (Dkt. 30); and (4) Plaintiff's Motion for Injunctive Relief (Dkt. 34). Also pending are several motions for extensions of time filed by Plaintiff. (Dkt. 20, 23, 25, 33.)

         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) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73. (Dkt. 14.)

         Having fully reviewed the record, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record and that oral argument is unnecessary. See D. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 7.1. Accordingly, the Court enters the following Order.

         BACKGROUND

         The Complaint and proposed amended complaint allege the following facts, which are taken in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. Although Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at the Idaho State Correctional Institution (“ISCI”), his claims arose when he was housed in the Idaho State Correctional Center (“ISCC”). On December 3, 2014, Plaintiff was attacked at ISCC by members of his former gang. (Compl., Dkt. 3, at 2.) He fought back. Although Plaintiff states that acted in self-defense, he was issued a Disciplinary Offense Report (“DOR”) for fighting.[1] (Dkt. 19-2 at 9.) Plaintiff was then transferred to ISCI. However, on August 28, 2015, Plaintiff was transferred back to ISCC, where he was again attacked. (Dkt. 3 at 2.)

         Plaintiff filed his initial Complaint in January 2016. On April 7, 2016, the Court reviewed the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A and allowed Plaintiff to proceed on Eighth Amendment failure-to-protect claims based on the two incidents. (Dkt. 8 at 6-7.)

         According to Plaintiff's proposed amended complaint, on April 27, 2016, Plaintiff was transferred to the Idaho Maximum Security Institution (“IMSI”). (Dkt. 26-1 at 5.) Even though IMSI is a different prison from where Plaintiff was previously attacked, Plaintiff states that the same individuals, or at least members of the same gang, attacked him a third time at IMSI. (Id.)

         Defendants now move for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiff did not exhaust available administrative remedies as to the December 2014 and August 2015 incidents.[2] (Dkt. 16.) After filing a motion to stay and multiple motions for extensions of time to file his response, Plaintiff filed his Motion to Amend. (Dkt. 26.) Plaintiff later submitted an untimely opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. 29, filed November 17, 2016; see also Dkt. 25, requesting an extension until October 21, 2016.)

         PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS FOR EXTENSIONS OF TIME

         Plaintiff's first three requests for extensions of time will be granted. (Dkt. 20, 23, 25.) Even with those extensions, Plaintiff's response to the Motion for Summary Judgment was still filed nearly a month late. (Dkt. 29.) However, the Court will exercise its discretion to consider Plaintiff's untimely response.

         Plaintiff's latest request seeks an extension of time to file a sur-reply in opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. 33.) However, because sur-replies are not authorized by the Local Rules, Plaintiff's motion for an extension for that purpose will be denied as moot. See Dist. Id. Loc. Civ. R. 7.1.

         PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND

         Defendants partially oppose Plaintiff's Motion to Amend, asserting that the amendment is futile and creates undue delay with respect to Plaintiff's claims arising from the first two incidents.

         Amendments to pleadings are governed by Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court “should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). The Ninth Circuit has explained the reasoning behind allowing the opportunity to amend:

In exercising its discretion with regard to the amendment of pleadings, a court must be guided by the underlying purpose of Rule 15-to facilitate decision on the merits rather than on the pleadings or technicalities. This court has noted on several occasions that the Supreme Court has instructed the lower federal courts to heed carefully the command of Rule 15(a) . . . by freely granting leave to amend when justice so requires. Thus Rule 15's policy of favoring amendments to pleadings should be applied with extreme liberality.

Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1135 (9th Cir. 1987) (internal citations, quotation marks, and alterations omitted). “In the absence of any apparent or declared reason-such as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, futility of amendment, etc., ” it is appropriate for a court to grant leave to amend. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). Although all of these factors contribute to the analysis of whether a plaintiff should be allowed an opportunity to amend, futility alone justifies denying such an opportunity. Johnson v. Buckley, 356 F.3d 1067, 1077 (9th Cir. 2004).

         In addition, the Court retains its screening responsibility pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), which requires that the Court review all complaints filed by prisoners against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. The Court must dismiss any such complaint, “or any portion of the complaint, ” that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Id. § 1915A(b).

         Amendment with respect to Plaintiff's claims arising from the first two attacks, in December 2014 and August 2015, is futile because, as explained below, Plaintiff did not exhaust available administrative remedies as to those claims. Therefore, Plaintiff's Motion to Amend will be denied in part. The Motion will be granted with respect to Plaintiff's claim based on the April 2016 incident, as Defendants do not oppose amendment for that purpose. (Dkt. 28 at 2.)

         DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

         1. Standard of Law Governing Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is appropriate where a party can show that, as to any 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.

         “[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 no genuine dispute as to any material fact in order for a case to survive summary judgment. Material facts are those “that might affect the outcome of the suit.” Id. at 248. “Disputes over irrelevant or unnecessary facts will not preclude a grant of summary judgment.” T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).

         The moving party is entitled to summary judgment if that party shows that each material fact cannot be disputed. To show that the material facts are not in dispute, a party may cite to particular parts of materials in the record, or show that the adverse party is unable to produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A) & (B). 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 Court is “not required to comb through the record to find some reason to deny a motion for summary judgment.” Carmen v. San Francisco Unified Sch. Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1029 (9th Cir. 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted). Instead, the “party opposing summary judgment must direct [the Court's] attention to specific triable facts.” So. Ca. Gas Co., 336 F.3d at 889.

         If the moving party meets its initial responsibility, then the burden shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine dispute as to any material fact actually does exist. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). 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 [a] 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 being stricken. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2).[3] 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 does not determine the credibility of affiants or weigh the evidence set forth by the parties. Although all reasonable inferences which can be drawn from the evidence must be drawn in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc., 809 F.2d at 630-31, the Court is not required to adopt unreasonable ...


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