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French v. Snake River Correctional Institution

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Pendleton Division

April 21, 2014

TONY FRENCH, Plaintiff,
v.
SNAKE RIVER CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION, C. O. SILVA, C.O. RODRIGUEZ, C. O. DAYTON, et al., Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

ROBERT E. JONES, District Judge.

Plaintiff Tony French, acting prose, sued the Snake River Correctional Institution ("SRCI") and six individual employees of the Oregon Department of Corrections ("ODOC") alleging that they violated his rights under the U.S. Constitution and state common law. This is one of approximately 30 federal actions French has commenced against the ODOC and its employees. French brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and seeks as damages law books and book and magazine subscriptions. All defendants move for summary judgment (#60). The court has jurisdiction over French's federal claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. For the following reasons, the defendants' motion is granted and French's claims are dismissed.

LEGAL STANDARDS

The district court should grant summary judgment if there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). If the moving party shows that there are no genuine issues of material fact, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and designate facts showing an issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). A scintilla of evidence, or evidence that is merely colorable or not significantly probative, does not present a genuine issue of material fact. United Steelworkers of America v. Phelps Dodge, 865 F.2d 1539, 1542 (9th Cir. 1989). Reasonable doubts as to the existence of a material factual issue are resolved against the moving party and inferences drawn from facts are viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654 (1962); T. W. Elec. Serv. v. P. Elec. Contractors, 809 F.2d 626, 630-31 (9th Cir. 1987).

BACKGROUND

At all times relevant to his present complaint, French was incarcerated at SRCI in Ontario, Oregon. The court will view the evidence in the light most favorable to French. Defendants filed four declarations in support of their motion. French did not file affidavits or other evidence to support his allegations and did not respond to the declarations filed by the defendants.

In his complaint, French alleges that, beginning December 7, 2011, defendants Silva, Rodriguez, and Dayton harassed him and subjected him to discriminatory treatment by denying him clean clothes, cleaning supplies, and other items and services afforded to other inmates. French does not allege that he exhausted his administrative remedies and the Grievance Coordinator at SRCI has no record that French filed a grievance pertaining to these allegations. Taylor Decl. 7.

French alleges that on December 14, 2011, Silva and Rodriguez were escorting Latino inmates past his cell on their way back from the recreation yard. French alleges that Silva and Rodriguez permitted the inmates to kick and bang on the door of his cell and to yell at him. French submitted an administrative Discrimination Complaint alleging that Silva and Rodriguez treated the Latino inmates preferentially and discriminated against him on the basis of his race. Silva Decl., Attach. 2; Rodriguez Decl., Attach. 2. After an investigation, SRCI Superintendent Mark Nooth determined that no evidence supported French's allegations that Silva or Rodgriguez failed to control the behavior of the Latino inmates or treated French differently from the other inmates. Decl. Washington, Ex. 2. The Superintendent's decision was upheld by the 0 DOC Inmate Discrimination Complaint Review Committee. Washington Decl., Ex. 4.

French alleges that on numerous occasions, Silva was hostile when delivering French's breakfast tray and tampered with French's food. French identified only one specific episode, which allegedly occurred when Silva delivered his breakfast tray on March 26, 2012. French alleges that Silva hit and slapped his hand without provocation when French tried to retrieve his milk from the cuff port of his cell door. French submitted two grievance forms pertaining to these allegations. In one, French alleged that Silva had assaulted him. Taylor Decl., Attach. 5. In the other, French alleged that he informed Dayton of the assault and food tampering by Silva, but Dayton ignored him. Taylor Decl., Attach. 4. The SRCI Grievance Coordinator rejected these grievances because they were not completed properly in compliance with the ODOC Grievance Review System rules. The Grievance Coordinator returned the grievance forms to French with instructions for complying with the rules. Taylor Decl. 5. French did not resubmit grievance forms pertaining to these allegations. Taylor Decl. 7.

French alleges that Silva, Rodriguez and Dayton permitted Latino inmates to shout in a disturbing manner while doing a daily work-out routine from 1 to 2 p.m., interfering with other inmates engaged in reading, writing, and meditating. The Grievance Coordinator's records do not reflect that French filed a grievance form pertaining to these allegations. Taylor Decl. 7.

French alleges that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his complaints about the actions and omissions of Silva, Rodriguez, and Dayton. French alleges that he informed Dayton that Silva and Rodriguez were denying him clean clothes and cleaning supplies, and that Silva was hostile and tampered with his food, but Dayton ignored him. French alleges that Silva and Rodriguez retaliated for his complaints by spreading rumors to Latino inmates suggesting that French was a "snitch" and a "rat" and offering rewards to the Latino inmates to attack and harass him. Other than the grievance forms described previously, the Grievance Coordinator has no record that French used the grievance procedure to address these allegation. Taylor Decl. 7.

French, who is African American, alleges that the actions and omissions of the defendants were racially motivated to discriminate against him, apparently invoking his right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. He alleges these actions and omissions amount to cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. He also appears to allege tort claims of assault, harassment, slander, and libel under state law.

Defendants argue that French's claims against SRCI and the individual officers in their official capacity are barred by the Eleventh Amendment; that French failed to exhaust administrative remedies with respect to most of his claims; that the evidence does not support a violation of constitutional ...


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