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Crofts v. Wessels

United States District Court, D. Idaho

March 29, 2019



          David C. Nye, Chief U.S. District Court Judge.


         Pending before the Court is Defendants Sue Wessels (“Wessels”) and Joe Eilers' (“Eilers”) Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 27), and Plaintiff Byron Dray Crofts' (“Crofts”) Motion to Amend his Complaint (Dkt. 33). Having reviewed the record and briefs, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Court will decide the Motions without oral argument. Dist. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 7.1(d)(2)(ii). For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds good cause to GRANT Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 27) and DENY Crofts' Motion to Amend his Complaint (Dkt. 33).


         Crofts is an inmate in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC). He resides in the maximum-security facility (IMSI). He asserts that, on May 4, 2016, he was placed in a cell with Joe Lloyd (“Lloyd”), a former member of the Severely Violent Criminals (“SVC”) gang.[1]

         Prior to his placement with Lloyd, Crofts had expressed dissatisfaction and concern over being housed in general population on tier J-3 of the prison facility, because SVC and Aryan Knights (“AK”) gang members were housed there as well. Crofts was upset about this placement because he was stabbed by SVC and AK members in 2002 and assaulted by AK members in 2006.

         According to Crofts, he made several efforts to inform Defendants that he felt his life was in danger when he was placed on J-3, but his requests to be moved were refused. Following his placement with Lloyd, he told Eilers that he and Lloyd were not getting along, and Eilers told him he would “move [him] . . . in the morning.” Dkt. 15, at 3. Crofts asserts that, because he was fearful for his safety, he had to “act out” so that he would be taken to administrative segregation, away from the gang members he feared. Dkt. 3-1, at 15.

         Crofts claims that in March of 2016, after he requested protective custody (“PC”) placement, the Restrictive Housing Placement Committee (“RHPC”) recommended that he be placed in PC, and Defendants did not comply with this recommendation. However, since Crofts filed his Complaint, it has become clear that the RHPC did not recommend that he be placed in protective custody. Instead, it recommended that he remain in close custody general population. Dkt. 27-25.

         Crofts' confusion on this point is understandable because, on a form memorializing his decision to not place Crofts in PC, the prison warden mistakenly stated that the RHPC recommended PC. This was simply an error. At the conclusion of the March 2016 hearing, RHPC actually recommended that Crofts remain in close custody general population, which is precisely what occurred. Id.; see also Dkt. 27-1, at 6-7.

         A prison staff member subsequently explained that Crofts did not provide enough specific, current information that would warrant PC placement-“stating in broad terms” his fear of the AK and SVC gangs was not enough. Dkt. 3-1, at 15. Prison staff also cited Crofts' own history of violence as a reason for the PC denial. Id.

         The RHPC held another hearing in June of 2016. At this hearing, Crofts revealed for the first time that Lloyd threatened him. Dkt. 27-29, at 4-6. However, Crofts refused to elaborate on the nature of this threat. Nonetheless, following this hearing, the RHPC recommended that Crofts be removed from general population. This recommendation was followed.

         Crofts filed this lawsuit on February 3, 2017. He states that he is seeking injunctive relief. Dkt. 15, at 2. Specifically, he asks the Court to order Defendants to stop housing him “with and around . . . AK Aryan Knights and SVC and give Crofts proper safe housing and programs to better himself.” Id.

         This Court conducted an Initial Review of Crofts' Complaint on May 26, 2017 and found that he had pleaded a plausible “failure-to-protect” claim arising under the Eighth Amendment. Dkt. 13, at 5. Defendants' moved for summary judgment on April 30, 2018. Dkt. 27. After the Motion for Summary Judgment was fully briefed, Crofts filed his Motion to Amend his Complaint. Dkt. 33.


         Summary judgment is proper “if the movant shows that 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). The Court's role at summary judgment is not “to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Zetwick v. Cty. of Yolo, 850 F.3d 436, 441 (9th Cir. 2017) (citation omitted). Importantly, the Court does not make credibility determinations at this stage of the litigation. Such determinations are reserved for the trier of fact. Hanon v. Dataproducts Corp., 976 F.2d 497, 507 (9th Cir. 1992).

         In considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court must “view[] the facts in the non-moving party's favor.” Zetwick, 850 F.3d at 441. To defeat a motion for summary judgment, the respondent need only present evidence upon which “a reasonable juror drawing all inferences in favor of the respondent could return a verdict in [his or her] favor.” Id. (citation omitted). Accordingly, the Court must enter summary judgment if a party “fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The respondent cannot simply rely on an unsworn affidavit or the pleadings to defeat a motion for summary judgment; rather the ...

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