United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division
L. Christensen, Chief District Judge United States District
Hall ("Hall"), a prisoner proceeding pro se, filed
this action in 2014 alleging Defendants were deliberately
indifferent to his safety and deliberately indifferent to his
serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Hall further alleged state law negligence claims against
Defendants. Magistrate Judge John Johnston entered his Order
and Findings and Recommendations (Doc. 148) in this matter on
July 31, 2017, recommending that Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. 111) be granted and this case
dismissed. Hall objected to Judge Johnston's Findings and
Recommendations and subsequently filed a Motion for Sanctions
(Doc. 169), Motion to Withdraw Reply (Doc. 173), and Motion
for Leave to Supplement Objection (Doc. 174). For the
following reasons, the Court will adopt Judge Johnston's
Findings and Recommendations, deny Hall's Motion for
Sanctions and Motion for Leave to Supplement Objection, and
grant Hall's Motion to Withdraw Reply.
Judge Johnston's Findings and Recommendations
entitled to de novo review of the findings and
recommendations to which he has "properly objected
to." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); see also 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(C). The Court reviews findings and
recommendations for clear error absent an
objection. See McDonnell Douglas Corp. v.
Commodore Bus. Mack, Inc., 656 F.2d 1309, 1313
(9th Cir. 1981); Thomas v. Am, 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).
party makes a proper objection by identifying the parts of
the magistrate's disposition that the party finds
objectionable and presenting legal argument and supporting
authority, such that the district court is able to identify
the issues and the reasons supporting a contrary
result." Montana Shooting Sports Ass 'n v.
Holder, 2010 WL 4102940, at *2 (D. Mont. Oct. 18, 2010)
(citation omitted). "It is not sufficient for the
objecting party to merely restate arguments made before the
magistrate or to incorporate those arguments by
reference." Id. Congress created magistrate
judges to provide district judges "additional assistance
in dealing with a caseload that was increasing far more
rapidly than the number of judgeships." Thomas,
474 U.S. at 153. There is no benefit to the judiciary
"if the district court is required to review the
entire matter de novo because the objecting party merely
repeats the arguments rejected by the magistrate. In such
situations, this Court follows other courts that have
overruled the objections without analysis." Montana
Shooting Sports Ass 'n, 2010 WL 4102940, at *2
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
short, an objection to a magistrate's findings and
recommendations "is not a vehicle for the losing party
to relitigate its case." Id. Which is precisely
what Hall attempts to do in his objection in this case.
Hall's objection amounts to a rehashing of the facts and
arguments provided, weighed, and rejected by Judge Johnston
in deciding to grant summary judgment in this case.
Accordingly, the Court reviews Judge Johnston's Findings
and Recommendations for clear error.
Johnston first considered Hall's Eighth Amendment claim
of deliberate indifference to his safety based upon Montana
State Prison's ("MSP") housing policies,
classifications, and inmate placement. Judge Johnston
correctly concluded that Hall could not prove his Eighth
Amendment claim because he could not demonstrate that
Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Hall's safety
by either failing to respond to a particular threat to Hall
or by placing Hall in a housing unit with rival gang members.
(Doc. 148 at 16-24.) Judge Johnston then correctly concluded
that because Hall could not establish an underlying
constitutional violation, he could not maintain a claim
against named supervisory officials and summary judgment
should be granted to all Defendants on Hall's federal
failure to protect claim. (Id. at 24-27.)
Judge Johnston considered Hall's Eighth Amendment claim
of deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs based
upon MSP's policies and procedures which required him to
be restrained before medical staff in the infirmary could
come in direct contact with him. Judge Johnston correctly
determined that Hall could not prove his Eighth Amendment
claim because MSP's policies make an exception for
sufficiently serious medical circumstances and, further,
Defendants could not have been deliberately indifferent to
Hall's suffering since no evidence showed Defendants were
aware of it. (Id. at 27-34.) Accordingly, Judge
Johnston recommended granting summary judgment in favor of
all Defendants on Hall's federal deliberate indifference
to serious medical needs claim. (Id. at 34.)
Judge Johnston considered Hall's state law negligence
claims. Judge Johnston determined that Montana law does not
require expert testimony to establish the standard of care
owed to an inmate "in all circumstances."
(Id. at 37 (emphasis added).) However, Judge
Johnston concluded, and this Court agrees, that Hall was
required to present expert testimony establishing the
standard of care in his case because the issues are outside
the ken of the common juror. (Id. at 37-39.) Because
Defendants had carried their burden by pointing out the
absence of expert testimony to support Hall's case, Judge
Johnston appropriately found that the burden shifted to Hall
to produce the necessary evidence, which he failed to do.
(Id. at 39-40.) Consequently, Judge Johnston
recommended granting summary judgment to Defendants on
Hall's negligence claims.
review, the Court is satisfied that Judge Johnston's
Findings and Recommendations are well-grounded in law and
fact and, accordingly, will be adopted in full.
Hall's Motion for Sanctions
filed a Motion for Sanctions requesting that Defendants'
response to his objections be stricken for exceeding the word
limit provided for reply briefs by L.R. 7.1(d)(2)(B) and for
failing to provide a table of contents as provided by L.R.
7.1 (d)(2)(C). (Doc. 169 at 2-4) Hall's contention that
Defendants have failed to comply with the Local Rules is
incorrect. Defendants' response is a response to an
objection, not a reply to a response to a motion as
contemplated by L.R. 7.1. Defendants' response was filed
pursuant to L.R. 72.3(b) which provides a 6, 500 word limit
to a response to an objection. Because L.R. 72.3 is
controlling and Defendants' response complied with this
rule, Hall's Motion for Sanctions will be denied.
Hall's Motion to Withdraw Reply and Motion for Leave ...