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Scott v. Cruger

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

April 3, 2014

ROGER A. SCOTT, Plaintiff,
v.
SGT. CRUGER, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

ROSANNA MALOUF PETERSON, Chief District Judge.

BEFORE THE COURT is a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant Sergeant Joshua Cruger, ECF No. 26. The motion was heard without oral argument. Defendant is represented by Washington State Assistant Attorney General Jason D. Brown. Plaintiff Roger A. Scott, currently an inmate of the Washington Department of Corrections at the Monroe Correctional Complex, is appearing in this action pro se and in forma pauperis. The Court has considered the briefing and the file and is fully informed.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was confined at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell, Washington, at all times relevant to this lawsuit. On January 26, 2011, Plaintiff was transferred from the I-Unit of Coyote Ridge to the G-Unit at the same complex. Plaintiff was assigned an upper bunk in a four-man cell at the time of his transfer to the G-Unit.

In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that when he was transferred to the G-Unit, he requested a bottom bunk placement from the G-Unit Sergeant, Defendant Cruger. As the G-Unit Sergeant, Defendant Cruger was responsible for bunk assignments and disciplinary hearings, among other duties. Plaintiff further alleges that he presented Sergeant Cruger with a Health Status Report ("HSR") stating that Plaintiff needed to be assigned to a bottom bunk. An HSR is an order issued by a medical doctor, and Defendant agrees that its commands are non-negotiable.

Plaintiff further alleges in his complaint that, despite presentation of the HSR, Defendant Cruger refused to reassign Plaintiff to a bottom bunk and allegedly told Plaintiff "that is not how I do things here in G-Unit" and directed the Plaintiff to "see me again in six months for a courtesy move." ECF No. 8 at 3.

Plaintiff states that he complied with Defendant Cruger's decision and took his assignment on the top bunk. According to the complaint, Plaintiff has issues with his right knee and hip that required a bottom bunk assignment. Plaintiff alleges that on January 29, 2011, three days after arriving at the G-Unit, his hip "gave out" while he was climbing down from the top bunk, causing his face to come into contact with the bunk ladder. Plaintiff alleges that he sustained injury to his face for which numerous stitches were required. Plaintiff was eventually moved to a lower bunk on March 7, 2011.

On January 9, 2013, Plaintiff filed his complaint in this Court alleging civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff further submitted an application to proceed in forma pauperis, which the Court granted. ECF No. 6. Pursuant to the in forma pauperis statute, the Court found that Plaintiff had failed to sufficiently allege a viable claim against two other defendants initially named in Plaintiff's suit. Plaintiff was given an opportunity to amend his complaint as to those defendants. ECF No. 7. When Plaintiff failed to amend his complaint, the Court dismissed the other defendants from the action and ordered service of the complaint on Defendant Cruger only. ECF No. 10.

Defendant Cruger has appeared in the action and filed an answer. Defendant Cruger now brings a motion for summary judgment asserting that he is entitled to judgment on Plaintiff's claims against him as a matter of law. ECF No. 26.

DISCUSSION

Summary judgment is appropriate "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). A key purpose of summary judgment "is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims...." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Summary judgment 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.

The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The moving party must demonstrate to the Court that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Id. at 325. The burden then shifts to the non-moving party to "set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 324. In establishing a genuine issue of material fact, the nonmoving party "may not rely on the mere allegations in the pleadings in order to preclude summary judgment." T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. P. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir.1987).

A genuine issue of material fact exists if sufficient evidence supports the claimed factual dispute, requiring "a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial." Id. Evidence that may be relied upon at the summary judgment stage includes "depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations..., admissions, [and] interrogatory answers...." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). At summary judgment, the court draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Dzung Chu v. Oracle Corp. ( In re Oracle Corp. Secs. Litig. ), 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986)). The evidence presented by both the moving and non-moving parties must be admissible. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).

An action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 has two essential elements: "(1) the defendants acted under color of law, and (2) their conduct deprived [the plaintiff] of a constitutional right." E.g., Stein v. Ryan, 662 F.3d 1114, 1118 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Haygood v. Younger, 769 F.2d 1350, 1354 (9th Cir. 1985)). Defendant Cruger ...


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