United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on the Report and
Recommendation (“R&R”) of the Honorable
Michelle L. Peterson, United States Magistrate Judge. Dkt.
#25. The Court has reviewed Plaintiff’s complaint,
Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, the R&R,
Plaintiff’s objections thereto, and the remaining
record. The Court agrees with the R&R that
Defendants’ motion for summary judgment should be
granted, and that Plaintiff’s complaint and this action
should be dismissed with prejudice.
Gabriel Eckard proceeds pro se and in forma
pauperis (“IFP”) in this civil rights action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is currently
confined at the Snohomish County Jail (“SCJ”) in
Everett, Washington as a pretrial detainee. On September 4,
2018, Plaintiff was transferred from the Monroe Correctional
Complex, managed by the Washington Department of Corrections
(“DOC”), to the SCJ. The Court adopts and
incorporates by reference the factual background from the
R&R describing Plaintiff’s Felony Offender
Reporting System (“FORS”) report, his conduct
during booking at the SCJ, and his conduct since his initial
booking. Dkt. #25 at 2-5.
filed this complaint on December 14, 2018 against four SCJ
staff claiming that he was improperly sent to the Maximum
Security module when he was booked at the SCJ. Dkt. #5.
Plaintiff claims that his continued confinement in the module
without a hearing for a rule violation violates his right to
due process under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the
U.S. Constitution. Id. at ¶¶ 21-26. On
March 4, 2019, Defendants moved for summary judgment
dismissal. Dkt. #15. The R&R recommended granting
Defendants’ motion, Dkt. #25, and Plaintiff’s
objections followed. Dkt. #33.
district court has jurisdiction to review a Magistrate
Judge’s report and recommendation on dispositive
matters. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). “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). The Court reviews
de novo those portions of the report and recommendation to
which specific written objection is made. United States
v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en
Due Process Requirement
Court finds that the R&R correctly determined that, as a
matter of law, Plaintiff’s placement in the Maximum
Security module and continued confinement do not constitute
due process violations. Due process requires that a pretrial
detainee “not be punished prior to an adjudication of
guilt in accordance with due process of law.” Bell
v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 (1979).
“Punishment” in the constitutional sense requires
that the restriction or condition imposed on the prisoner be
imposed “for the purpose of punishment” as
opposed to being “an incident of some other legitimate
governmental purpose.” Id. at 538. Absent a
showing of expressed intent to punish by prison officials,
Courts determine whether the condition is
“punishment” based on “whether an
alternative purpose to which [the restriction] may rationally
be connected is assignable for it, and whether it appears
excessive in relation to the alternative purpose assigned [to
it].” Id. (citing Kennedy v.
Mendoza-Martinez, 372 U.S. 144, 168–69 (1963)).
the facts in a light most favorable to Plaintiff, Defendants
have provided well-grounded, non-disciplinary reasons for why
Plaintiff was placed in the Maximum Security module. In his
objections, Plaintiff argues that he cannot be placed in the
Maximum Security module without a rule violation and was
therefore entitled to an adversarial hearing before being
placed in the module. Dkt. #33 at 2-4 (citing Mitchell v.
Duprik, 75 F.3d 517 (9th Cir. 1996)). However, the
analysis in Mitchell is inapplicable to this case
since the detainee was placed in a segregation unit for
disciplinary reasons. Id. at 524.
extensive evidence supported Plaintiff’s classification
as a maximum security inmate at the time of booking due to
his threat to the safety and security of SCJ staff, to other
inmates in the facility, and to himself. See Dkts.
#17 at ¶¶ 3-5; #18 at ¶ 3-4; #19 at
¶¶ 2-3. Extensive evidence likewise supports his
continued classification as a maximum security inmate based
on his ongoing violent, aggressive and threatening behavior.
See Dkt. #16, Exs. B-F. Defendants have therefore
provided an alternative purpose for Plaintiff’s
retention in the Maximum Security module that is separate
from punishment and reasonably related to a legitimate
government purpose. Although Plaintiff maintains that the
“purpose and effect” of the Maximum Security
module is “punishment, ” Dkt. #35 at 1-2, he has
not raised a genuine dispute of fact that Defendants placed
him in the unit for safety and security reasons.
also objects to the R&R on the basis that his confinement
in the segregation unit amounts to “punishment”
because of his mental illness. Dkt. #33 at 4-12. As an
initial issue, the remainder of Plaintiff’s Objections
totals ninety pages, including attachments, which vastly
exceeds the three-page limit required by the R&R.
See Dkt. #25 at 10. However, even if the Court
considers the remaining pages, the issues raised therein are
outside the scope of this case. Whether Plaintiff’s
isolated confinement constitutes “cruel and unusual
punishment” because of his mental illness addresses the
Eighth Amendment, as shown by Plaintiff’s cited cases.
See, e.g., Madrid v. Gomez, 889 F.Supp.
1146 (N.D. Cal. 1995) (Isolation of certain prisoners with
mental illnesses violates Eighth Amendment); Jones
“El v. Berse, 164 F.Supp.2d 1096, (W.D. Wis. 2001)
(Discussing liability of prison officials under Eighth
Amendment). Plaintiff’s complaint alleges violation of
due process rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendments. See Dkt. #5 at ¶¶ 21-26. The
Eighth Amendment issue is therefore beyond the scope of this