United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER RE: PLAINTIFF'S
MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DKTS. 117, 123)
Honorable Ronald E. Bush Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge
are Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Dkt.
117) and Plaintiff's Motion Requesting Entry of Partial
Summary Judgment Due to Failure to Respond Timely (Dkt. 123).
Having carefully considered the record, heard argument, and
otherwise being fully advised, the Court enters the following
memorandum decision and order, consistent with its rulings
from the bench during the hearing held on these motions on
August 29, 2018.
Jody Carr is incarcerated in the custody of the Idaho
Department of Correction. Am. Compl. p. 2 (Dkt. 103). He
brought this suit in August of 2013 under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, seeking damages, declaratory relief, and injunctive
relief. See generally Compl. (Dkt. 3). His Complaint raised
various civil rights claims against four Idaho Department of
Correction employees. Id. Carr's claims were
dismissed on summary judgment and the case was ordered closed
(Dkts. 78, 79). Carr appealed (Dkt. 83) and the Ninth Circuit
Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part this
Court's grant of summary judgment. (Dkt. 92). The
appellate court reversed (1) the grant of summary judgment to
Defendant Fleming; and (2) the denial of Carr's motion
for leave to file an amended complaint to add a retaliation
claim against Sergeant Mechtel. (Dkt. 92.) Subsequently,
Carr's amended complaint was deemed filed (Dkt. 103).
amended complaint raises three claims. He alleges that
Defendant correctional officer Crystal Fleming fed him human
feces contaminated with clostridium difficile bacteria, which
caused him to become violently ill for a period of 16 months.
Id. He claims that Fleming violated his civil rights
by retaliating against him, by inflicting cruel and unusual
punishment, and by demonstrating deliberate indifference to
his health and welfare. Id. He further alleges that
Defendant Sergeant Mechtel issued him two Disciplinary
Offense Reports (“D.O.R.s”) after Carr sent
Fleming what Carr contends was a “settlement
letter” in conjunction with this lawsuit. Id.
Carr claims that Mechtel violated his civil rights by issuing
the D.O.R.s to retaliate against Carr engaging in his
protected First Amendment rights in sending the letter.
moves for partial summary judgment on the liability element
of his retaliation claim against Mechtel. (Dkt. 117.) While
the motion was pending, Carr filed an additional motion
requesting entry of partial summary judgment due to
Mechtel's alleged failure to timely respond to Carr's
first motion for partial summary judgment. (Dkt. 123.)
Mechtel opposes both motions. (Dkts. 121, 125.)
Court heard oral argument on both motions on August 29, 2018.
During the hearing, the Court ruled from the bench, denying
both motions. This memorandum decision and order more fully
explains the Court's reasoning for denying the motions.
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 principal
purpose of summary judgment “is to isolate and dispose
of factually unsupported claims . . . .” Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (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). There must be a genuine dispute
as to any material fact - a fact “that may affect the
outcome of the case.” Id. at 248.
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. See
Leslie v. Grupo ICA, 198 F.3d 1152, 1159 (9th Cir.
1999). However, the Court is not required to adopt
unreasonable inferences from circumstantial evidence. See
McLaughlin v. Liu, 849 F.2d 1205, 1208 (9th Cir. 1988).
moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the
absence of a genuine dispute as to material fact. See
Devereaux v. Abbey, 263 F.3d 1070, 1076 (9th Cir. 2001).
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 non-moving party's case. See 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. See Devereaux, 263 F.3d at 1076. The
non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and show
“by [his] own affidavits, or by the depositions,
answers to interrogatories, or admissions on file” that
a genuine dispute of material fact exists. Celotex,
477 U.S. at 324. Where reasonable minds could differ on the
material facts at issue, summary judgment should not be
granted. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251.
Analysis of Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary
seeks partial summary judgment on Mechtel's liability
with respect to Carr's First Amendment retaliation claim.
For incarcerated plaintiffs, the elements of a First
Amendment retaliation claim are: “(1) An assertion that
a state actor took some adverse action against an inmate (2)
because of (3) that prisoner's protected conduct, and
that such action (4) chilled the inmate's exercise of his
First Amendment rights, and (5) the ...