United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division
L. Christensen, United States District Court Chief Judge
States Magistrate Judge John T. Johnston entered findings and
recommendations in this case on June 1, 2017, recommending
that Plaintiff Stacy Hall's ("Hall") complaint
be dismissed for failing to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted. Hall timely filed an objection to the
findings and recommendations, and so is entitled to a de novo
review of those findings and recommendations to which he
specifically objects. 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) (citations omitted).
was an inmate at the Montana State Prison at all times
pertinent to his claims. He filed a civil rights petition
against the following Defendants: Buddy Myotte, Alvin Fode,
Trisdan Kohut, PA Fisk, Mark Henderson, Jane McMahon, Pamela
Ward Monaco, Leslie Thornton, Rosanna Hengst, Dan Curran,
Gutherie Lewis, Lance Griffin, Samantha Peterson, Hiedi
Abbott, Cyndy Hiner, Cathy Redfern, Michael Zuber, Myron
Beeson, Tom Wood, Leroy Kirkegard, Jane Lamoure, Mike
Batista, E. Shane Spears, Jonathan Pine, Stephen Powell, and
various unknown Does. Hall alleges multiple claims relating
to Defendants' alleged violation of his state and federal
rights with regard to a slip and fall accident and improper
medical treatment. (See Doc. 10 at 139-153.)
the parties are familiar with the facts of this case they
will only be included here as necessary to explain the
makes nine specific objections to Judge Johnston's
findings. They will be addressed separately below.
contends that Judge Johnston's summary of the facts of
this case inaccurately recited Hall's Amended Complaint.
The Court disagrees and finds that Judge Johnston thoroughly
summarized the facts. Nonetheless, this Court has read the
entirety of the 163-page Amended Complaint and will consider
all of the factual allegations made by Hall.
Slip and Fall
regards to the slip and fall claim, Hall objects to the
findings because he "believes the facts as presented in
his complaint state a valid claim for which he may be
entitled to some relief." (Doc. 13 at 12.) Hall argues
that the safety hazards in his working conditions at MSP were
plainly obvious, that he informed the guards they were
unsafe, and that the staff ignored his complaints, all of
which support an Eighth Amendment claim.
Farmer v. Brennan, the United States Supreme Court
found that an Eighth Amendment violation under prison
conditions occurs when: (1) the deprivation alleged must be
"objectively, sufficiently serious, " and (2) the
"prison official's act or omission must result in
the denial of 'the minimal civilized measure of
life's necessities.'" 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994).
"To violate the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause, a
prison official must have a 'sufficiently culpable state
of mind." Id. This is one of "deliberate
indifference" to one's health or safety, or acting
recklessly. Id. at 834-835. "[A]cting or
failing to act with deliberate indifference to a substantial
risk of serious harm to a prisoner is the equivalent of
recklessly disregarding that risk." Id. at 835.
clarifies his four Eighth Amendment claims in his objection:
(1) that he was compelled to perform his work duties or face
disciplinary action; (2) that he was refused proper equipment
with which to reach high places after complaining of the
risks to safety; (3) that he was forced to perform hazardous
clean-up duties that brought him into direct contact with
human fecal matter without training, certification, or the
proper protective gear, and (4) that he was refused proper
protective gear of any kind when ordered to clean human fecal
matter from three cells covered in feces. (Doc. 13 at 11.)
Taking his allegations as true, his first argument fails
because the deprivation alleged is not objectively,
sufficiently serious. As in any type of work situation, it is
normal to be subject to recourse if you fail to perform your
work duties. Further, Hall fails to allege a sufficiently
the fact that the prison official told Hall to use the
equipment in the cell to stand on does not pose an
objectively, sufficiently serious harm. Judge Johnston found
and this Court agrees that standing on a prison bed, desk, or
toilet did not pose an objective risk and Hall did not
complain that to do so would be unsafe. Hall's only
request was for a step ladder, which the officers
appropriately considered to be a security risk and
communicated to Hall. (Doc. 10 at 13.) Moreover, there is no
allegation that any prison official asked him to stand on the
cell furniture with a culpable state of mind.
Hall's two allegations that the prison officials
deliberately disregarded the safety risks of cleaning up
human fecal matter without proper training and equipment also
fail as a matter of law. Hall claims that MSP usually used
the Low Side Haz-Mat work crew to clean contaminated cells,
and that the crew had specific training, solvents, and
protective gear. Although the Haz-Mat crew initially cleaned
the cells, Hall and prisoner Klatt were asked to finish
cleaning the cells. (Doc. 10 at 14-15.) Hall explains that he
and Klatt inspected the cells and determined the necessary
cleaning supplies and "protective Haz-Mat gear" to
finish the job. (Doc. 10 at 16.) However, Defendant Myotte
stated "that the gear was not necessary since they would
get a change of clothing and a shower after the work was
completed." Id. Hall then requested "face
mask shields located in ...