United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division
Morris United States District Court Judge
Plaintiff Lionel Ellison's remaining claims in this
matter are that the Defendants failed to provide him with
adequate food, failed to protect him, and retaliated against
him. (Doc. 92 at 15). The parties have filed cross motions
for summary judgment on these remaining claims. United States
Magistrate Judge John Johnston entered Findings and
Recommendations on November 4, 2019. (Doc. 92).
Magistrate Judge recommended that Ellison's motion for
summary judgment (Doc. 41) be denied; Officer Grosulak's
motion for summary judgment (Doc. 47) be granted on all
claims except for Ellison's failure to protect claim;
Officer Washington's motion for summary judgment (Doc.
60) be granted on all claims except Ellison's claim of
failure to provide food and failure to protect; Officer
Johnson's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 64) be denied
with regard to Ellison's failure to protect claim; and
Sgt. Peters' motion for summary judgment (Doc. 68) be
and Officers Grosulak, Johnson, and Washington filed timely
objections to the Findings and Recommendations. (Doc. 93,
94). The Court now considers these objections and reviews the
Findings and Recommendations. For the reasons articulated
below, the Court adopts in full the Findings and
Court reviews de novo the portions of the Findings and
Recommendations to which either party objects. 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(C). The Court reviews for clear error any
portion to which no party specifically objected. McDonnell
Douglas Corp. v. Commodore Bus. Mach., Inc., 656 F.2d 1309,
1313 (9th Cir. 1981).
Officers Grosulak, Johnson, and Washington's Objections
Grosulak, and Johnson (collectively “Officers”)
object to three findings of fact in the Findings and
Recommendations. The Officers first take issue with the
finding that they did not dispute Ellison is hypoglycemic.
The Officers contend that, if Ellison was hypoglycemic, the
medical records would have reflected that fact.
Officer Washington objects to the finding that he does not
dispute that Ellison was not given dinner on September 22,
2019. Officer Washington “knew of no reason why he
would not have provided Ellison with dinner.” (Doc. 93
Officer Grosulak objects to the finding that Grosulak knew
Ellison had complained about his cell-mate posing a threat to
him. Grosulak alleges that he did not know that Ellison had
complained, and that there is nothing in the record to
support a conclusion that Grosulak knew Ellison complained
and that his cell-mate posed a threat to him. (Doc. 93 at 5).
Court reads the Findings and Recommendations as applying the
proper summary judgment standard by drawing “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). The Magistrate
Judge correctly drew inferences in favor of Ellison when
considering the Officers' motions for summary judgment,
and the Officers' objections do not rise to the level of
genuine disputes of fact. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The Officers
raise issues that are appropriately resolved at trial, not at
the summary judgment stage.
Officers also object to the recommendation to deny their
motions for summary judgment on the failure to provide food
and failure to protect claims. For the reasons discussed
above, accepting the findings made by the Magistrate Judge
and the facts alleged by Ellison, the Court agrees with the
Magistrate Judge that there is a genuine issue of material
fact regarding whether Ellison's right to humane living
conditions was violated by a failure to receive food.
regarding the failure to protect claim, the Court agrees that
there is a genuine issue of material fact. The Officers
object because they allege that the injuries suffered by
Ellison were only minor, and that their duty to protect
Ellison only extends as far as protecting him from serious
harm. Drawing inferences in favor of Ellison, the Magistrate
Judge correctly concluded that there is a genuine issue of
fact regarding whether Ellison was placed at a substantial
risk of suffering serious harm when he was placed in ...