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Redding v. Snohomish County Jail

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

October 25, 2019

SNOHOMISH COUNTY JAIL, et al., Defendants.



         In October, 2018, plaintiff, a Snohomish County Jail prisoner, filed a 28 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights complaint, naming as defendants Snohomish County Jail, “C.O. Grifith #6121, ” Charles Mitchell, and “Major J. Kane, #6058.” Dkt. 4. On April 17, 2019, the Court dismissed all claims and defendants, except the excessive force claim against defendant Scott Griffith. Dkt. 16. On August 21, 2019, defendant Griffith filed a motion for summary judgment, declarations in support and a Rand notice. Dkts. 19-26. The motion was noted for September 13, 2019, and renoted for October 11, 2019, after plaintiff alleged he was in the process of obtaining a copy of a jail video of the alleged incident between defendant Griffith and plaintiff. Dkt. 28. Plaintiff subsequently filed motions regarding spoliation of evidence as the video he sought was erased before the law suit was filed, Dkts. 37, 41, extension of all proceedings, appointment of counsel, Dkts. 33, 34, and amendment of the complaint. Dkt. 40. The Court denied these motions, and now addresses defendant Griffith's motion for summary judgment.


         A. Parties' Factual Assertions

         Plaintiff's § 1983 complaint alleges defendant Griffith violated plaintiff's rights by using excessive force against him and injuring him on August 20, 2018. The complaint indicates Griffith used force in response to certain acts plaintiff committed, and certain things plaintiff said to the officer but that the force used was nonetheless excessive.

         Defendant Griffith contends summary judgment should be granted because plaintiff admits he resisted defendant's directives by pulling away, admits he threatened violence against defendant, and continued to resist despite defendant's directives to stop. Dkt. 19 at 1. Defendant further claims his actions were reasonable and that he “escorted plaintiff to the ground to minimize the possibility of injury to both himself, other staff and to plaintiff.” Id.

         Classification Specialist Mitchell states he heard plaintiff yelling and heard defendant tell plaintiff to stop resisting. Dkt. 24. Specialist Mitchell also saw defendant on the ground with plaintiff and defendant was using his weight on plaintiff because plaintiff was moving his body around and yelling angrily. Id. Specialist Mitchell subsequently conducted a disciplinary hearing at which plaintiff admitted he pulled away from defendant and told defendant he would “see him outside.” Id. Plaintiff stated it was not fair he was housed in maximum security and the incident would not have occurred if he had been housed elsewhere. Plaintiff also stated he “felt justified in his actions to resist.”

         Jail classification specialist Craig avers she saw defendant on plaintiff with his knee between plaintiff's shoulders and holding plaintiff's hands in a “gooseneck, ” a hold to maintain a struggling inmate. Dkt. 21. She states plaintiff was yelling at defendant to get off him and was flopping his body all over the floor and kicking his legs. Id. Specialist Craig assisted defendant by placing her knee on plaintiff's right leg but she states plaintiff continued to kick with his left leg and other officers had to respond in order to restrain plaintiff. Id.

         Licensed Nurse Practitioner Miles avers she examined plaintiff after the incident and did not see any cuts or bruises on plaintiff's wrists, though he was still wearing handcuffs, and that there were no other outward signs of trauma. Dkt. 23. Ms. Miles examined plaintiff's head and saw no signs of trauma such as puffiness, swelling or change of color. Id. She further examined plaintiff's face and neck and say no signs of trauma. She concluded plaintiff “did not appear to have sustained any injuries requiring additional medical care.” Id.

         In his response to defendant's motion for summary judgment, plaintiff states it is untrue he repeatedly pulled away and twisted or pulled his body away. Dkt. 27. Plaintiff contends he “wiggled his arm only once, ” and “there were no threats . . . after we exited the elevator.” Id. Plaintiff contends defendant used a “gooseneck” to inflict pain and that plaintiff never said anything out of anger; that “there was no resistance”; and defendant had no right to “drive me face first into ground”; put their knees on his back; or yell stop resisting “when in fact I went totally limp.” Id.

         B. Legal Standards

         The Court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party has the initial burden of production to demonstrate the absence of any genuine issue of material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Devereaux v. Abbey, 263 F.3d 1070, 1076 (9th Cir. 2001) (en banc). To carry this burden, the moving party need not introduce any affirmative evidence (such as affidavits or deposition excerpts) but may simply point out the absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Fairbank v. Wunderman Cato Johnson, 212 F.3d 528, 532 (9th Cir. 2000). A nonmoving party's failure to comply with local rules in opposing a motion for summary judgment does not relieve the moving party of its affirmative duty to demonstrate entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Martinez v. Stanford, 323 F.3d 1178, 1182-83 (9th Cir. 2003).

         “If the moving party shows the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and ‘set forth specific facts' that show a genuine issue for trial.” Leisek v. Brightwood Corp., 278 F.3d 895, 898 (9th Cir. 2002) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986)). The non-moving party may not rely upon mere allegations or denials in the pleadings but must set forth specific facts showing that there exists a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). A plaintiff must “produce at least some significant probative evidence tending to support” the allegations in the complaint. Smolen v. Deloitte, Haskins & Sells, 921 F.2d 959, 963 (9th Cir. 1990).

         Factual disputes whose resolution would not affect the outcome of the suit are irrelevant to the consideration of a motion for summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In other words, ‚Äúsummary judgment should be granted where the nonmoving party fails to offer evidence from which a reasonable jury could return a verdict in ...

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