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Garrott v. Bowen

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

August 19, 2014

RODNEY L. GARROTT, Plaintiff,
v.
KEVIN BOWEN, et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

STANLEY A. BASTIAN, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 79. The motion was heard without oral argument.

Plaintiff Rodney Garrott is a Washington State inmate currently detained in the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center. In 2011, plaintiff filed a civil rights action against several state prison officials and employees, alleging that they violated his constitutional rights by transferring him from the McNeil Island Corrections Center (MICC) to the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center (CRCC) in retaliation for his litigation in another matter. Additionally, plaintiff alleges his rights were violated by denial of access to his legal files and the law library at CRCC, and by failing to timely forward mail to the Airway Heights Corrections Center (AHCC) that had been sent to him at CRCC by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Plaintiff's claims are based on 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. Defendant now moves for summary judgment.

MOTION STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate if the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, " show there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). There is no genuine issue for trial unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict in that party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). The moving party has the initial burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of fact for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. If the moving party meets its initial burden, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Id. at 324; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250.

In addition to showing there are no questions of material fact, the moving party must also show it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Smith v. Univ. of Wash. Law School, 233 F.3d 1188, 1193 (9th Cir. 2000). The moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law when the non-moving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of a claim on which the nonmoving party has the burden of proof. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The non-moving party cannot rely on conclusory allegations alone to create an issue of material fact. Hansen v. United States, 7 F.3d 137, 138 (9th Cir. 1993). Further, a plaintiff cannot rest upon the allegations in his complaint, but must establish each element of his claim with "significant probative evidence tending to support the complaint." T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pacific Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).

When considering a motion for summary judgment, a court may neither weigh the evidence nor assess credibility; instead, "the evidence of the nonmovant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. To defeat a motion for summary judgment, per Rule 56(c), the non-moving party must "do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.... In the language of the Rule, the non-moving party must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). However, the mere existence of some evidence in support of the non-moving party will not be sufficient to support a denial of a motion for summary judgment; there must be enough evidence to enable a jury reasonably to find for the non-moving party on that issue. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). Thus, if the evidence is "merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, " summary judgment may be granted. Id.

FACTS

For purposes of defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, the facts are presented in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the non-moving party.

Defendants Kevin Bowen, Renee Chun Fook, Jason Noah, Randy Smith, and Cynthia Meade are current and former employees of the Washington State Department of Corrections. Plaintiff Rodney Garrott is a Washington State inmate in the custody of the Washington State Department of Corrections. In February 2010 he was an inmate at McNeil Island Corrections Center (MICC) and was transferred to the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center (CRCC) in Connell, Washington.

Soon after his transfer from MICC to CRCC, plaintiff contacted his counselor at CRCC, defendant Jason Noah. Plaintiff raised concerns about his transfer to CRCC, his access to legal property, and his access to the prison law library. Defendant Noah provided plaintiff with information to contact the departments at CRCC that could resolve his property and law library access issues. Defendant Noah's duties as a counselor did not include responsibility for issuing inmate property or for scheduling inmates for law library access.

On February 8 or 9, 2010, defendant Noah received a call at CRCC from plaintiff's attorney, Mr. Evan Oshan, requesting to speak to plaintiff regarding some pending litigation and for assistance from defendant Noah in getting a declaration from plaintiff to Mr. Oshan that day or the next day. Defendant Noah arranged for a call between attorney Oshan and plaintiff and he then faxed plaintiff's declaration to Mr. Oshan on the day of the call or the next day. Attorney Oshan was appointed to represent plaintiff in April 2009.

On April 18, 2010, the District Court in Garrott v. LeFrancis dismissed plaintiff's action for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Plaintiff appealed to the Ninth Circuit, and the Ninth Circuit issued an Order on April 21, 2010, requiring plaintiff to complete an in forma pauperis authorization form and file it with the court within 21 days. Plaintiff did not timely file the authorization form requested by the Ninth Circuit and his appeal was dismissed by Order dated May 24, 2010. The Ninth Circuit reinstated plaintiff's appeal in Garrott v. LeFrancis on January 26, 2012. Ultimately, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's appeal on the grounds of failure to exhaust administrative remedies.

Defendant Bowen is not familiar with plaintiff and did not screen, approve, or finalize the transfer of plaintiff to CRCC in February 2010. Defendant Chun Fook is also not familiar with plaintiff and did not make the decision to transfer plaintiff to CRCC. She does not have the authority to transfer an inmate ...


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