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Guille v. Sweeney

United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division

June 18, 2018




         Plaintiff Adrian Guille is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis and without counsel. Pending are Defendants' Objection to Magistrate Judge's Order granting Mr. Guille's Motion to Compel (Doc. 127); Defendants' Motion for Protective Order (Doc. 128); Non-IPS Team Defendants' Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 133);[3] Mr. Guille's Motion for Sanctions for Failure to Comply with a Court Order in Discovery (Doc. 142); Defendants' Motion to Strike Mr. Guille's Second Response to Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 143); Mr. Guille's Motion to Stay (Doc. 146); Mr. Guille's Motion for Leave to File his Sur-Reply Brief in Response to Defendants' Reply Brief in Support of their Motion to Strike (Doc. 151); Mr. Guille's Motion to Compel Discovery (Doc. 153); Mr. Guille's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 156); Mr. Guille's Motion in Limine to Exclude his Prior Institutional and Criminal Records from Trial (Doc. 159); Defendants' Motion to Strike Mr. Guille's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 161); and Defendants' Motion to Strike Mr. Guille's Motion in Limine (Doc. 162).

         The Court finds Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is dispositive of most of the pending issues and will therefore address that motion first.

         I. Non-IPS Team Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

         A. Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate when the moving party "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). Under summary judgment practice, "[t]he moving party initially bears the burden of proving the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." In re Oracle Corp. Sec. Litig., 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.317, 323 (1986)). The moving party may accomplish this by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials" or by showing that such materials "do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that the adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A), (B).

         "Where the non-moving party bears the burden of proof at trial, the moving party need only prove that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Oracle Corp., 627 F.3d at 387 (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(B). Summary judgment should be entered, "after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. "[A] complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Id. at 323. In such a circumstance, summary judgment should be granted, "so long as whatever is before the district court demonstrates that the standard for entry of summary judgment, as set forth in Rule 56(c), is satisfied." Id.

         If the moving party meets its initial responsibility, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue as to any material fact actually does exist. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). In attempting to establish the existence of this factual dispute, the opposing party may not rely upon the allegations or denials of its pleadings but is required to tender evidence of specific facts in the form of affidavits, and/or admissible discovery material, in support of its contention that the dispute exists. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1); Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586 n.l 1. But "[a] plaintiffs verified complaint may be considered as an affidavit in opposition to summary judgment if it is based on personal knowledge and sets forth specific facts admissible in evidence." Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1132 n.l4 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). The opposing party must demonstrate that the fact in contention is material, i.e., a fact "that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, " and that the dispute is genuine, i.e., "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.242, 248 (1986); T. W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass 'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).

         "In evaluating the evidence to determine whether there is a genuine issue of fact, " the court draws "all inferences supported by the evidence in favor of the non-moving party." Walls v. Cent. Costa Cnty. Transit Auth., 653 F.3d 963, 966 (9th Cir. 2011). It is the opposing party's obligation to produce a factual predicate from which the inference may be drawn. See Richards v. Nielsen Freight Lines, 810 F.2d 898, 902 (9th Cir. 1987). Finally, to demonstrate a genuine issue, the opposing party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586 (citations omitted).

         By contemporaneous notice provided October 6, 2017 (Doc. 136), Mr. Guille was advised of the requirements for opposing a motion brought pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir. 1998)(en banc); Klingele v. Eikenberry, 849 F.2d 409 (9th Cir. 1988).

         B. Supervisory Liability

         Mr. Guille has alleged the Non-IPS Team Defendants failed to supervise and/or take disciplinary action to curb a known pattern of physical abuse to inmates by Defendants Sweeney, Short, Trudeau, Kent and Segovia (hereinafter "IPS Team Defendants"). He alleges this constituted deliberate indifference to his safety and proximately caused a violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. (Amd. Cmplt, Doc. 32 at 14-15.)

         An individual can be held liable in their individual capacity under a theory of supervisory liability. "[A] plaintiff may state a claim against a supervisor for deliberate indifference based upon the supervisor's knowledge of and acquiescence in unconstitutional conduct by his or her subordinates." Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202 (9th Cir. 2011). Section 1983 will not impose liability on supervising officers under a respondeat superior theory of liability. Monell, 436 U.S. at 691-94. That is, a defendant cannot be held liable just because they supervise other employees. Instead, supervising officers can be held liable under § 1983 "only if they play an affirmative part in the alleged deprivation of constitutional rights." King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 568 (9th Cir. 1987).

         The Ninth Circuit has identified four general situations in which supervisory liability may be imposed: (1) for setting in motion a series of acts by others, or knowingly refusing to terminate a series of acts by others, which they knew or reasonably should have known would cause others to inflict constitutional injury; (2) for culpable action or inaction in training, supervision, or control of subordinates; (3) for acquiescence in the constitutional deprivation by subordinates; or (4) for ...

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