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Griepsma v. Wend

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

December 11, 2017

CHARLES M. WEND, et al, Defendants.




         This matter comes before the court on the Report and Recommendation ("R&R") of United States Magistrate Judge Mary Alice Theiler (R&R (Dkt. # 95)) and Plaintiff James D. Griepsma's objections thereto (Obj. (Dkt. # 97)). Also before the court are Mr. Griepsma's motions filed after his objections: a motion for reconsideration of the court's previous order (Mot. for Recons. (Dkt. # 98)), a motion for Supreme Court discretionary review of his case (Mot. for S.Ct. Rev. (Dkt. # 99)), and a motion to compel (MTC (Dkt. # 106)).

         The court has considered the parties' submissions, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully advised, [1] the court ADOPTS the R&R, DISMISSES Mr. Griepsma's complaint with prejudice, and DENIES Mr. Griepsma's remaining motions.


         Mr. Griepsma is proceeding in forma pauperis in this action, in which he alleges civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (See generally Compl. (Dkt. # 4).) He asserts a variety of claims relating to his confinement in 2G16 as a pre-trial detainee at the Skagit County jail. (See generally id.) Specifically, Mr. Griepsma brings suit against a number of current and former Skagit County employees[2] and alleges the following constitutional violations: (1) failure to protect him from assault; (2) deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs; (3) use of excessive force; (4) interference with his right of access to court; (5) interference with his right to send and receive mail; (6) harassment and death threats; (7) denial of his due process rights; and (8) unconstitutional punishment through his confinement conditions.[3] (See Id. at 3-7.)

         In response, Defendants filed four dispositive motions seeking dismissal of Mr. Griepsma's claims (MTD Eleven Defendants (Dkt. #15); MTD Three Defendants (Dkt. # 38); MTD Five Defendants (Dkt. # 50); MTD Sue Baerg (Dkt. # 67)), as well as a motion to find Mr. Griepsma's complaint frivolous (Mot. to Find Compl. Frivolous (Dkt. # 70)). Mr. Griepsma opposed all of these motions. (1st Resp. (Dkt. # 77); 2nd Resp. (Dkt. # 79); 3rd Resp. (Dkt. # 80); 4th Resp. (Dkt. # 81); 5th Resp. (Dkt. # 82).)

         On September 14, 2017, Magistrate Judge Theiler issued an R&R granting Defendants summary judgment on all of Mr. Griepsma's claims, denying Defendants' motion to find Mr. Griepsma's complaint frivolous, and dismissing the action with prejudice. (See R&R at 6, 35.) In the R&R, Magistrate Judge Theiler thoroughly recounts background facts for each of Mr. Griepsma's claims, and the court does not repeat those facts here. (See Id. at 2-5.) However, because the court focuses on the medical and excessive force claims below, the court briefly summarizes Magistrate Judge Theiler's reasoning for dismissing those two claims.

         First, Mr. Griepsma alleges a series of constitutional violations regarding the medical care he received, including deliberate indifference by Ms. Baerg for denying him access to his x-rays, denying him over-the-counter ("OTC") medications and icepacks, providing him OTC medications in crushed form, ignoring his complaints about chest pain, and failing to provide him medical approval to see a hand specialist. (See Id. at 13-16 (citing Compl. at 3-4, 6-7).) Magistrate Judge Theiler found that the evidence does not support that Ms. Baerg "acted in conscious disregard of an excessive risk to [Mr. Griepsma's] health[, ]" as set forth in Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 847 (1994). (See R&Ratl2, 17.)

         Second, Mr. Griepsma alleges the use of excessive force against him on May 19, 2016, when he asserts that four or five deputies held him down while Deputy Eichman punched him in the ribs and Sergeant Mcintosh grabbed his hand, thereby hyperextending and breaking his immobile fingers. (Id. at 3, 19 (citing Compl. at 4).) Magistrate Judge Theiler found that "the medical evidence refutes [Mr. Griepsma's] contention of one or more broken fingers or more than de minimis injury to his hands or ribs." (Id. at 21 (citing Baerg Decl. (Dkt. # 26) at 21-24, 56-59; Randall-Secrest Decl. (Dkt. # 27) at 10).) Before the altercation, several defendants and witnesses observed Mr. Griepsma touch Sergeants Mcintosh and Storie while they were transporting him and then "advance on, kick at, and back [Sergeant] Mcintosh towards a set of stairs, pulling [Sergeant] Storie ... along with him." (Id. at 20.) They state that "[Deputy Eichman], who had been watching from the lower floor ... radioed for assistance, ran up the stairs, and used his weight to take [Mr. Griepsma] to the floor, but landed on his back with [Mr. Griepsma] on top of him, punching, spitting, and yelling." (Id.) Further, "[Sergeant] Mcintosh tried to control [Mr. Griepsma's] arms, while [Sergeant] Storie attempted control of his waist chains with one hand and grabbed his hair with the other." (Id.)

         Magistrate Judge Theiler dismissed Mr. Griepsma's excessive force claim against Sergeant Storie, Sergeant Mcintosh, Deputy Eichman, and Chief Deputy Wend due to "an absence of significant and probative evidence supporting [Mr. Griepsma's] version of events." (Id. at 22.) Despite Mr. Griepsma's claim that he never touched Deputy Eichman or Sergeant Mcintosh, Magistrate Judge Theiler found that "[t]he evidence demonstrates the objective reasonableness of the force employed"-the standard provided by Kingsley v. Hendrickson, - U.S. -, 135 S.Ct. 2466, 2473 (2015). (R&R at 18, 20, 22.) Specifically, Magistrate Judge Theiler found that "[Mr. Griepsma] engaged in a physical altercation with multiple correctional officers[, ]" and "[t]he severity of the security problem and threat was clear ...." (Id. at 20, 22 (citing 3rd Resp. at 7).) Magistrate Judge Theiler additionally noted that "[t]he evidence ... supports the conclusion [Mr. Griepsma] actively resisted the efforts of a large number of officers to end the altercation[J" and "[t]hese circumstances do not support [Mr. Griepsma's] allegation of excessive force." (Mat 22.)

         On October 2, 2017, Mr. Griepsma timely filed objections to the R&R and attached a new medical record that offers a summary of a medical appointment he had on September 28, 2017. (See generally Obj.) Later that same day, Mr. Griepsma filed two additional motions and a declaration: (1) a motion for reconsideration of the court's order denying his August 17, 2017, motion to amend his complaint (see Mot. for Recons.), (2) a motion requesting that the Supreme Court review his case (see Mot. for S.Ct. Rev.), and (3) a declaration from Terrance Jon Irby, a fellow inmate at the time of the alleged excessive force incident. (See Irby Decl. (Dkt. # 100).) In the declaration, Mr. Irby states that he "agree[s] to those facts present in the attached motion"[4] and offers his account of the altercation between Mr. Griepsma and the Defendants on May 19, 2016. (See Id. at 1-2.) Finally, on November 22, 2017, Mr. Griepsma filed a motion to compel the time clock records of specific defendants. (See MTC.)

         The court now evaluates Mr. Griepsma's objections and motions. First, the court addresses Mr. Griepsma's objections in light of the new evidence he submitted. Next, the court turns to his motion for reconsideration, motion for Supreme Court discretionary review, and motion to compel.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Objections to R&R

         A district court has jurisdiction to review a Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation on dispositive matters. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). "The district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to." Id. "A judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). In addition, because Mr. Griepsma is proceeding pro se9 this court must interpret his complaint and objections liberally. See Bernhardt v. L.A. Cty., 339 F.3d 920, 925 (9th Cir. 2003).

         The court first addresses Mr. Griepsma's objections to the dismissal of his claims not impacted by the new evidence. The court then turns to Mr. Griepsma's objections to the dismissal of his remaining claims-the excessive force and medical claims-and what, if any, impact Mr. Irby's declaration and the new medical record had.

         1. Claims with No New Evidence

         Mr. Griepsma details a litany of objections to the dismissal of his claims not relating to the new evidence, [5] including the following: objections to Magistrate Judge Theiler's legal conclusions; objections to statements of the law; objections to statements citing Defendants' declarations and other evidence; and objections to statements citing his own complaint. (See generally Obj.) Defendants contend that "[Mr.] Griepsma's objections are not supported by citation to the record or any admissible evidence" and "often allude[] to immaterial matters that are not in the record." (Resp. to Obj. (Dkt. # 101) at 2.) The court agrees with Defendants.

         Mr. Griepsma's objections restate arguments he made in his complaint and responses, thereby failing to raise any novel issues not addressed by the R&R. (See generally R&R; Obj.) Moreover, none of Mr. Griepsma's objections specifically address Magistrate Judge Theiler's analysis or reasoning. (See generally Obj.) Based on an independent examination of the record, the court concurs with Magistrate Judge Theiler's recommendation of dismissal.

         2. Claims ...

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