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Nordlund v. Washington State Department of Corrections

United States District Court, Western District of Washington, Tacoma

April 23, 2015

FRANK R. NORDLUND, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.

ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

BENJAMIN H. SETTLE United States District Judge

This matter comes before the Court on the Report and Recommendation ("R&R") of the Honorable Karen L. Strombom, United States Magistrate Judge (Dkt. 34), and Plaintiffs Frank Nordlund and Bryan Gelenaw's ("Plaintiffs") objections to the R&R (Dkt. 35).

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On June 16, 2013, Plaintiffs filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit against Defendants Washington State Department of Corrections, Ronald Fraker, and Vance Adamire ("Defendants") in Clallam County Superior Court. Dkt. 1 at 2. On February 19, 2014, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. Dkt. 1-1 ("Comp."). Plaintiffs are prisoners at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center ("CBCC"). Id. ¶¶ 20-21. Between June 29 and July 5, 2011, CBCC was placed on a temporary emergency lockdown following an escape attempt ("six-day lockdown"). Id. ¶¶ 35-38. Plaintiffs allege that the conditions of their confinement in the Medium Security Complex ("MSC") during the six-day lockdown violated their federal constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Id. ¶¶ 84-91. On March 14, 2014, Defendants removed the suit to this Court. Dkt. 1.

On November 7, 2014, Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that the conditions of Plaintiffs' confinement during the six-day lockdown were temporary, penologically justified, and reasonable under the circumstances. Dkt. 13. On February 25, 2015, Judge Strombom issued the R&R recommending that the Court grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 34.

On March 12, 2015, Plaintiffs filed objections. Dkt. 35. On March 26, 2015, Defendants responded. Dkt. 36. On April 6, 2015, Plaintiffs replied. Dkt. 37.

II. DISCUSSION

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b) governs objections to a magistrate judge's recommended disposition. Rule 72(b) provides as follows:

The district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to. The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3).

Plaintiffs object to Judge Strombom's recommended disposition on numerous grounds.[1]Several of Plaintiffs' objections repeat arguments that they raised in response to Defendants' summary judgment motion. Compare Dkt. 35, with Dkt. 22. Judge Strombom thoroughly and properly addressed these arguments in the R&R. The Court will address Plaintiffs' objections that raise new issues.

Plaintiffs argue that Judge Strombom improperly excluded Plaintiffs' allegations about Defendants' conduct prior to the six-day lockdown. Dkt. 35 at 3. Plaintiffs contend that their complaint incorporates facts outside of the six-day lockdown period. Dkt. 35 at 2. The Court disagrees. Although Plaintiffs allege that Defendants are liable for constitutional violations and negligence "during all formal counts for at least 2 years prior to the lockdown, " the factual allegations in Plaintiffs' complaint relate only to the six-day lockdown. See Comp. ¶¶ 26-66. Plaintiffs have not sought leave to amend their complaint to include these claims. Thus, Judge Strombom properly determined that Plaintiffs' complaint does not support any claims regarding conduct outside of the six-day lockdown period.

Plaintiffs also object to Judge Strombom's findings regarding the relevancy and admissibility of Plaintiffs' exhibits that were submitted with their response to Defendants' summary judgment motion. Dkt. 35 at 3-7, 10. In regards to the log book entries, the entries that were made outside of the six-day lockdown are not relevant to the conditions of Plaintiffs' confinement during that six-day period. Although some of the log book entries do involve the six-day lockdown, these entries do not show when the prisoners were allowed in and out of their cells or how long Plaintiffs were locked in their cells. See Dkt. 29 at 25-39. As for the Massachusetts class action complaint, tort claims from other offenders, law review article, and newspaper clippings, none of these documents are authentic, admissible, or relevant evidence.

Finally, Plaintiffs contend that Judge Strombom erroneously determined that the American Correctional Association ("ACA") standards are only a guide and that the toilet-to-inmate ratio complies with the ACA standards. Dkt. 35 at 7. According to Plaintiffs, "[w]hether the standards are only a 'guide' that can be . . . consciously ignored in the absence of 'exigent circumstances' is a material fact issue in dispute and should not have been resolved on summary judgment." Id. Viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs, the evidence in the record establishes that the ACA standards are a guide and that the toilet-to-inmate ratio complies with the ACA standards. See Dkt. 16, Declaration of John Brandt 6. Plaintiffs have not presented evidence to the contrary. Additionally, the evidence in the record establishes that the six days of restricted movement in the MSC was temporary and penologically justified under the circumstances, even if the ACA standards were not followed. See Dkt. 14, Declaration of Vance Adamire ¶¶ 7, 9; Dkt. 15, Declaration of Edwin Reetz 5.

III. ORDER

The Court having considered the R&R, Plaintiffs' objections, and the remaining record, does hereby find and order as follows:

(1) The R&R is ADOPTED;

(2) Plaintiffs' 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims are DISMISSED with prejudice; and

(3) Plaintiffs' state law claims are DISMISSED without prejudice.


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