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Garnica v. State

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

June 15, 2015

STATE OF WASHINGTON, et al., Defendants.


BENJAMIN H. SETTLE, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the Report and Recommendation ("R&R") of the Honorable J. Richard Creatura, United States Magistrate Judge (Dkt. 27), and Plaintiff Marco Garnica's ("Garnica") objections to the R&R (Dkt. 28).


On June 4, 2011, Garnica slipped and fell while cleaning a shower at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center. Dkt. 1, Ex. 2 ("Comp.") ¶¶ 1.1, 4.2. On May 6, 2014, Garnica filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint against Defendants State of Washington, the Washington State Department of Corrections, Bernard Warner, Ronald Fraker, and D. Kuth (collectively "Defendants") in Thurston County Superior Court. Id. Garnica alleges that Defendants (1) violated his federal constitutional rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, (2) acted negligently under Washington state law, and (3) violated his state constitutional rights under Article I, Sections 3 and 14 of the Washington State Constitution. Id. ¶¶ 5.1-6.3. On July 9, 2014, Defendants removed the case to this Court. Dkt. 1.

On December 16, 2014, Defendants moved for summary judgment. Dkt. 15. On April 17, 2015, Judge Creatura issued the R&R recommending that the Court dismiss Garnica's federal law claims and remand his state law claims. Dkt. 27. On May 7, 2015, Garnica filed objections. Dkt. 28. On May 21, 2015, Defendants responded. Dkt. 29.


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).

Garnica objects to Judge Creatura's recommended disposition regarding his federal claims. Dkt. 28. First, Garnica contends that Judge Creatura erroneously determined that Secretary of the Department of Corrections Bernard Warner ("Secretary Warner") and Superintendent of the Clallam Bay Corrections Center Ronald Fraker ("Superintendent Fraker") cannot be held liable under section 1983. Id. at 4-5. As Judge Creatura explained, a defendant cannot be held liable under section 1983 solely on the basis of a supervisory responsibility or position. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 n.58 (1978). Although Secretary Warner and Superintendent Fraker may have been responsible for the overall operation of the prison, Garnica has not demonstrated that Secretary Warner or Superintendent Fraker were personally involved in the maintenance of the shower floors. Accordingly, these defendants cannot be held liable under section 1983.

Garnica also contends that Judge Creatura erroneously concluded that Correctional Officer D. Kuth ("Officer Kuth") was entitled to qualified immunity. Dkt. 28 at 3, 7-8. The Court disagrees. Judge Creatura thoroughly and properly discussed why Officer Kuth is entitled to qualified immunity. See Dkt. 27 at 10-15. Specifically, Garnica failed to present evidence showing that the shower conditions rose to the level of a constitutional violation. Garnica also did not present evidence showing that Officer Kuth knew that the shower floors posed an excessive risk to inmate safety or that he was deliberately indifferent to this condition. Finally, Garnica failed to show that the law regarding the maintenance of shower floors was clearly established at the time of the incident.


Therefore, the Court having considered the R&R, Garnica's objections, and the remaining record, does hereby find and order as follows:

(1) The R&R is ADOPTED;
(2) Garnica's federal law claims are DISMISSED; and
(3) Garnica's state law claims are REMANDED to Thurston County Superior Court.

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