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Shirley v. Manning

United States District Court, D. Oregon

January 17, 2014



PAUL PAPAK, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Scott Shirley filed this action in forma pauperis against defendants Gabriel Manning (identified in Shirley's pleadings only as "Mr. Manning") and a single Doe defendant, each in their individual capacities, on February 10, 2013. On November 4, 2013, Shirley amended his complaint to add the United States as an additional defendant. Shirley has been represented by counsel from the inception of this action.

The parties' dispute arises out of an incident in which Shirley sat on and was punctured in the buttock by two of several rose thorns left on a bench by one or both of the two individual defendants, who serve as correctional officers at the prison in which Shirley was at that time incarcerated. By and thorough his amended complaint, Shirley alleges the defendants' liability for violation of his Eighth Amendment right to freedom from cruel and unusual punishment and under Oregon common law for battery. This court has federal-question jurisdiction over Shirley's Eighth Amendment claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, original subject-matter jurisdiction over Shirley's claims to the extent alleged against the Untied States pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(1), and may properly exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Shirley's battery claim to the extent alleged against the individual defendants pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

Now before the court is defendant Manning's motion (#20) for partial summary judgment (styled as a motion for summary judgment) as to both of Shirley's claims to the extent alleged against Manning only. I have considered the motion, oral argument on behalf of the patties, and all of the pleadings and papers on file. For the reasons set forth below, Manning's motion should be granted in part and denied in part as discussed below, summary judgment should be awarded in Manning's favor as to Shirley's Eighth Amendment claim only, and the court should dismiss Shirley's Eighth Amendment claim sua sponte to the extent alleged against defendants Doe and the United States.


Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant 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). A party taking the position that a material fact either "cannot be or is genuinely disputed" must support that position either by citation to specific evidence of 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, " by showing that the evidence of record does not establish either the presence or absence of such a dispute, or by showing that an opposing party is unable to produce sufficient admissible evidence to establish the presence or absence of such a dispute. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The substantive law governing a claim or defense determines whether a fact is material. See Moreland v. Las Vegas Metro. Police Dep't, 159 F.3d 365, 369 (9th Cir. 1998).

Summary judgment is not proper if material factual issues exist for trial. See, e.g., Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 318, 322 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Warren v. City of Carlsbad, 58 F.3d 439, 441 (9th Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 116 S.Ct. 1261 (1996). In evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the district courts is of the United States must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, and may neither make credibility determinations nor perform any weighing of the evidence. See, e.g., Lytle v. Household Mfg., Inc., 494 U.S. 545, 554-55 (1990); Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000).


I. The Parties

Plaintiff Shirley is an individual, unincarcerated resident of Nevada who, at all times material to the claims raised in this action, was incarcerated at Federal Connectional Institution Sheridan ("Sheridan") in Oregon.

Defendant the United States is a governmental entity which, by and through the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice, operates Sheridan, the institution in which plaintiff Shirley was at all material times incarcerated. Defendant Manning is a Correctional Officer employed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons at Sheridan. The Doe defendant, non-conclusively identified by Manning in his sworn declaration as "Officer Scyoc, " is likewise a Correctional Officer employed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons at Sheridan.

II. History of the Parties' Dispute

Manning offers his sworn declaration testimony that on March 23, 2011, while working a shift at Sheridan, he engaged in "routine banter" with his co-worker Scyoc. Manning testifies that in the course of poking fun at Scyoc for Scyoc's purported habit of "sitting down on the job, " he "picked five or six thorns from the rose bushes" by an outdoor patio "and placed them on the [patio] bench, " while saying, "that would sure surprise you if you[] sit[] down on the job again." Manning testifies that most of the thorns fell over shortly after he placed them on the bench "due to the breeze, " and that the thorns were approximately one half inch or less in length. Manning further testifies that his placement of the thorns on the bench was directed solely to the end of joking at Scyoc's expense, and were neither intended nor anticipated to harm or humiliate any inmate of the institution.

On March 23, 2011, while Shirley was an incarcerated prisoner at Sheridan, he and other inmates were called to lunch on the outdoor patio outside their housing unit. Upon arrival at the patio, Shirley sat down on a bench and was stuck by two of several thorns arranged on its surface. The following day, March 24, 2011, Shirley requested and received medical attention for the injury he suffered from the two thorns, characterized by Sheridan medical staff as a "1 mm puncture wound [with] no sign of infection or bleeding." Also on ...

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