United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division
L. Christensen, Chief Judge
States Magistrate Judge John Johnston entered his Order,
Findings and Recommendations in this matter on August 19,
2016, recommending that Defendants' motions for summary
judgment be granted in part and denied in part. Defendants
timely filed objections and are therefore entitled to de novo
review of those Findings and Recommendations to which they
specifically object. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). This
Court reviews for clear error those findings and
recommendations to which no party objects. See McDonnell
Douglas Corp. v. Commodore Bus. Mack, Inc., 656 F.2d
1309, 1313 (9th Cir. 1981); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S.
140, 149 (1985). "Clear error exists if the Court is
left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has
been committed." United States v. Syrax, 235
F.3d 422, 427 (9th Cir. 2000). The parties are familiar with
the facts of this case and they will not be repeated here.
to the objections, Defendants contend that Judge Johnston
erred in denying Defendants' motions for summary
judgment. In their objections, Defendants raise three
specific arguments: (1) the Inner-Perimeter Security
("IPS") Team Defendants are entitled to qualified
immunity based upon the undisputed facts of this case; (2)
the non-IPS Team Defendants are entitled to summary judgment
because there was no underlying rights violation; and (3) the
non-IPS Team Defendants are entitled to summary judgment
because Plaintiff Adrian Guille ("Guille") failed
to raise a genuine factual dispute as to whether they had
actual knowledge that the IPS Team had engaged in
unconstitutional conduct. The Court will address each of
stated, the IPS Defendants argue that they are entitled to
qualified immunity based upon the undisputed facts of this
case and Judge Johnston's conclusion that the IPS
Defendants were not entitled to summary judgment is based on
an erroneous conclusion of law. Specifically, Defendants take
issue with Judge Johnston's finding that: "Taking
the facts in the light most favorable to Mr. Guille, he was
completely compliant, and therefore, there was no need for
any force." (Doc. 79 at 22.) Defendants raise three
specific arguments supporting this general argument. First,
Defendants argue that it is undisputed that Guille did not
comply with the order to "strip down, cuff up, "
because he did not remove his underwear. Thus, Defendants
argue, use of force was appropriate. The Court disagrees.
Court recognizes that it is undisputed that Guille did not
strip down to his underwear during the search of his cell.
However, the Court agrees with Judge Johnston that, viewing
the facts in the light most favorable to Guille, there is a
genuine dispute of material fact as to whether he was
complying with their request to "strip down." Under
Guille's version of the facts, he states that he
attempted to comply with the IPS Team's order by
initially placing his hands open-face through the cuff-port
only to have his hands pushed back through by an IPS member.
He then took off some of his clothes to show that he was not
hiding a weapon and placed his hands again through the
cuff-port. According to Guille, after being sprayed with OC
spray he repeatedly asked: "What do you want me to
do?" Under Guille's version of the facts, he was
never specifically ordered to remove his underwear. Thus,
taking the facts in the light most favorable to Guille, he
was attempting to comply and no use of force was
necessary. However, even if this was not the case,
there is a still dispute of fact as to whether the
officers' conduct was reasonable.
contend that they are entitled to qualified immunity because
Guille was not fully complying with the IPS Team's orders
and possessed a makeshift weapon, and thus their use of force
was reasonable under the circumstances. However, as
discussed, there is an issue of fact as to whether Guille was
attempting to comply with the IPS Team's orders. Further,
Guille states that he did not possess a weapon and it is
undisputed that no weapon was found in his
cell. Further, Guille states that after he was
sprayed with OC spray multiple times, tased, hand-cuffed,
taken to the ground, and not resisting their orders, the
officers grabbed him by the hair and slammed his face into
the floor of his cell injuring his face. Then, Guille
contends, a member of the IPS Team held his face down into a
pool of water and forced him to inhale water and glass. If
these facts are true, and Guille was not resisting, this use
of force was not reasonable.
also contend that Judge Johnston impermissibly substituted
his judgment for that of the prison administration.
Defendants base this argument on Judge Johnston's alleged
finding that the "IPS Defendants should have been
satisfied with [Guille]'s refusal to comply with the
order that he "strip out." (Doc. 81 at 11.)
However, as Judge Johnston actually found, there are issues
of fact as to whether Guille was attempting to comply with
the IPS Team's orders and whether he was actually
refusing their orders. As discussed, it is undisputed that
the officers ordered Guille to "strip out."
Nevertheless, there is a dispute of fact as to whether the
officers specifically told Guille to remove his underwear.
Thus, Judge Johnston did not substitute his judgment for that
of the prison administration. Judge Johnston only concluded
that there are issues of fact precluding summary judgment.
Defendants first objection is overruled.
Underlying Rights Violation
second objection argues that because the IPS Defendants are
entitled to qualified immunity, summary judgment in favor of
the non-IPS Defendants is appropriate on the claim of
supervisory liability. However, because the Court agrees with
Judge Johnston that factual issues remain that prevent
summary judgment in favor of the IPS Defendants, the claim of
supervisory liability against the non-IPS Defendants survives
and Defendants' objection must fail. Defendants'
second objection is overruled.
Knowledge of Unconstitutional Conduct
last objection argues that the non-IPS Defendants are
entitled to summary judgment because there is a lack of a
factual dispute as to whether they had knowledge of the IPS
Team's alleged unconstitutional conduct. However,
contrary to Defendants' argument, there is only a lack of
a factual dispute at this point because there is still
outstanding discovery in this matter.
have refused to comply with Guille's discovery requests
for the production for all prior grievances, complaints, or
other documents received by the non-IPS Defendants concerning
complaints of alleged mistreatment of inmates by the IPS
Defendants and any documents or investigative reports issued
in response to these complaints. Judge Johnston determined
that because he recommended that the IPS Defendants'
motion for summary judgment be denied, he would recommend
denial without prejudice of the non-IPS Defendants'
motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56(d) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. If Guille moved the Court
to compel production of these documents, Judge Johnston
stated he was inclined to grant this request with some
limitations, and then allow the non-IPS Defendants to renew
their motion for summary judgment.
Court agrees with the Judge Johnston that this is the
appropriate course of action in this case. Following
additional discovery, the non-IPS Defendants will be allowed
to renew their motion for summary judgment with a complete