United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
BILLY J. MEIER, Plaintiff,
SGT. AUSTIN CLARK COUNTY JAIL and CLARK COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE CUSTODY BRANCH, Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
RICHARD CREATURA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights matter has been referred to
Magistrate Judge J. Richard Creatura pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 636 (b)(1)(A) and (B) and Local Magistrate Judge
Rules MJR 1, MJR 3, and MJR 4. Before the Court is
defendants' motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 16.
Billy J. Meier filed a complaint alleging that his
constitutional rights were violated when defendant
“Sgt. Austin” “slammed” him into a
wall, pulled his arm behind his back with “more force
than necessary, ” and gave him a black eye. However,
plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies,
and so the Court cannot grant relief on his claims. Further,
plaintiff has provided no evidence that defendant
Austin's actions were objectively unreasonable because he
has provided no evidence of any unlawful action other than
the general and unsubstantiated allegations in his complaint.
Finally, plaintiff names the Clark County Sheriff's
Office (Custody Branch) (“Sheriff's Office”)
as a defendant, but the Sheriff's Office is not a
“person” under § 1983 and so cannot be
liable. Reading the facts in the light most favorable to
plaintiff, the Court concludes that he has not stated a claim
on which relief can be granted and so the Court recommends
that defendants' motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 16) be
and PROCEDURAL HISTORY
initially filed his complaint in April of 2017. Dkt. 1. He
alleges that defendant Austin violated his constitutional
rights, but does not specifically name which right was
allegedly violated. Dkt. 3.
parties do not dispute that, on February 22, 2017, defendant
Austin and non-party Hatcher entered plaintiff's cell for
inspection. Dkt. 3 at 3; Dkts. 17, 18. Plaintiff and two
other prisoners were in the cell. Id. Upon
inspection, Hatcher discovered two tumblers full of
“pruno, ” a combination of water and food-waste
left to ferment and produce alcohol. Id. Defendant
Austin also discovered a third tumbler of pruno. Id.
When asked whose pruno it was, none of the prisoners
immediately answered, but plaintiff eventually admitted it
was his. Id. Defendant Austin issued an infraction
and received instructions that plaintiff was to be re-housed.
Id. Here, plaintiff and defendants' accounts
alleges in his complaint, with no supporting declarations,
affidavits, or other evidence, that defendant Austin returned
to his cell and ordered plaintiff to “roll [his] shit
up” because he was being rehoused. Dkt. 3 at 3.
Plaintiff stayed on the edge of his bunk, about to ask
defendant Austin a question, when defendant Austin and
non-party Hatcher allegedly pulled plaintiff from his bed.
Id. Defendant Austin then allegedly
“slammed” him against the wall and pulled his arm
behind his back “with more force than necessary
considering the fact [he] wasn't even struggling.”
Id. Defendant Austin also allegedly punched
plaintiff in his left eye, causing a black eye. Id.
Austin, in contrast, states that he returned to
plaintiff's cell and ordered plaintiff to pack up in
preparation for re-housing. Dkt. 18. Plaintiff did not move
and began to become agitated. Id. Defendant Austin
and non-party Hatcher placed their hands on plaintiff's
wrists, and plaintiff allegedly began to resist violently.
Id. Eventually, defendant Austin was able to
restrain plaintiff without incident. Id. He states
that plaintiff suffered no injury, and that neither defendant
Austin nor any other correctional officer hit or struck
have submitted evidence that plaintiff had a black eye
shortly after the incident. Dkt. 20-7. However, defendants
have also submitted evidence showing plaintiff striking
himself in the left-eye multiple times while he was alone in
a holding cell, immediately after the incident but before
being examined by medical staff. Dkt. 20, Ex. 6.
filed a motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 16. Plaintiff did
not file a response or any additional evidence to support the
assertions in his complaint, and defendants have also not
filed anything in addition. See Dkt.
purpose of summary judgment is to avoid unnecessary trials
when there is no dispute over the material facts before the
court and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Zweig v. Hearst Corp., 521 F.2d 1129,
1136 (9th Cir. 1975), overruled on other grounds by
Hollinger v. Titan Capital Corp., 914 F.2d 1564 (9th
Cir. 1990). The moving party is entitled to summary judgment
if the evidence produced by the parties permits only one
conclusion. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 251 (1986). To determine if summary judgment is
appropriate, the court must consider whether particular facts
are material and whether there is a genuine dispute as to the
material facts left to be resolved. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The
materiality of a given fact is determined by the required
elements of the substantive law under which the claims are
brought. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. Factual disputes
that do not affect the outcome of the suit under the
governing law will not be considered. Id. Where
there is a complete failure of proof concerning an essential
element of the non-moving party's case on which the
nonmoving party has the burden of proof, all other facts are
rendered immaterial, and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Anderson,
477 U.S. at 254 (“the judge must view the evidence
presented through the prism of the substantive evidentiary
burden”). Further, if the nonmoving party bears the
burden of proof at trial, the moving party can prevail by
pointing out that there is an absence of evidence to support
the nonmoving party's case. Soremekun v. Thrifty
Payless, Inc., 509 f.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir. 2007).
However, when presented with a motion for summary judgment,
the court shall review the pleadings and evidence in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party,
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255 (citation omitted), and
“a pro se complaint will be liberally construed . . .
.” Pena v. Gardner, 976 F.2d 469, 471 (9th
Cir. 1992) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97,
106 (1976)) (other citation omitted).
the moving party has carried its burden under Fed.R.Civ.P.
56, the party opposing the motion must do more than simply
show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio,
475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The opposing party cannot rest
solely on his pleadings but must produce significant,
probative evidence in the form of affidavits, and/or
admissible discovery material that would allow a reasonable
jury to find in his favor. Id. at n.11;
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50. In other words, the
purpose of summary judgment “is not to replace
conclusory allegations of the complaint or answer with
conclusory allegations of an affidavit.” Lujan v.
National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990).
However, weighing ...