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Aplin v. Oregon Department of Corrections

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division

May 9, 2018



          MICHAEL W. MOSMAN Chief United States District Judge

         This matter comes before me on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [45] and Motion to Stay Discovery [55]. Plaintiff also filed a Motion for Court Order and a Motion to Hold Summary Judgment in Abeyance [54].

         For the reasons given below, I GRANT in part and DENY in part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [45]. I further DENY Plaintiffs Motion for Court Order [53], based on Defendants' representation that they have not received any discovery request from Plaintiff. Having ruled on the Motion for Summary Judgment, I also DENY as moot Plaintiffs Motion to Hold Summary Judgment in Abeyance [54], and DENY as moot Defendants Motion to Stay Discovery [55].


         On August 7, 2017, Plaintiff Colby Aplin ("Plaintiff), pro se, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants violated Plaintiffs Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Compl. [1] at 1.

         Plaintiff alleges the following facts: Sometime between 2014 and 2015, while Plaintiff was incarcerated in Snake River Correctional Institute ("SRCI"), two officers, twin brothers with the last name Golem, sexually assaulted Plaintiff in a cleaning closet in unit 2G. Compl. [1] at 2-3; Response [60] at 3. Plaintiff reported the sexual assault to the governor's office and to the Prisoner Rape Elimination Act ("PREA") Reporting Department. Compl. [1] at 2. Plaintiff received a letter in response, which said that Defendants Lieutenant King and Lieutenant Morhorse would be in charge of the investigation. Compl. [1] at 2-3. But instead of investigating the matter, the Lieutenants moved Plaintiff to unit 3E, told Plaintiff to never speak of the sexual assault again, and assigned one of the officers who sexually assaulted Plaintiff to monitor 3E. Compl. [1] at 3. Plaintiff later moved out of SRCI and to the Oregon State Correctional Institute ("OSCI"). See Compl. [1] at 3.

         Plaintiff further alleges that in 2017, while Plaintiff was located at OSCI, Plaintiff told Defendant Captain Wagner that nobody investigated the assault. Compl. [1] at 3. Captain Wagner responded that two police officers would interview Plaintiff within two weeks. Captain Wagner, however, never contacted the police. Compl. [1] at 3. Plaintiff then filed a grievance. Compl. [1] at 3. Plaintiffs mother also contacted officials to ask why the investigation had not begun; she was informed that Captain Wagner did not report the sexual assault, and instead he notified the officers involved. Compl. [1] at 3. In July, Plaintiff contacted the Special Investigations Unit, and was told that Plaintiff would receive updates and have the opportunity to make a statement to the police. Compl. [1] at 3. But Plaintiff did not receive further communications. Compl. [1] at 3. Plaintiff reports a "continued fear of being released without the 'The Golem Brothers' being held accountable." Compl. [1] at 3.

         Plaintiffs Statement of Claim alleges that Defendants violated the Plaintiffs right "to be free from the fear of offensive bodily contact and to be free from actual offensive bodily contact, " since Plaintiff reported the "fear of secondary attack because the defendants Threatened to kill [Plaintiff]" if the sexual assault were reported. Compl. [1] at 4. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants "have intentionally denied a response and legal action against" the officers involved in the sexual assault. Compl. [1] at 4.

         Defendants move for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiffs claim is barred by the statute of limitations. Defs. Mot. for Summ. J. [45] at 2. Defendants submitted evidence that Plaintiff was housed at SRCI from September 10, 2014 to December 9, 2015, and again from August 25, 2016 to January 25, 2017. Taylor Decl. [47] at 2, Ex. 1 at 1. Plaintiff was in unit 2G at SCRI from December 18, 2014 to February 3, 2015; moved to disciplinary segregation for three days from February 3, 2015 to February 6, 2015; and then moved to unit 3E until September 22, 2015. Taylor Decl. [47] at 2, Ex. 1 at 1. Since Plaintiff says the sexual assault occurred when Plaintiff was housed in unit 2G, it would have necessarily occurred before February 3, 2015, when she was moved to administrative segregation and then to a different unit.

         Defendants also submitted evidence that Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding the sexual assault on April 7, 2017. Taylor Decl. [47], Ex. 3 at 1-4. The grievance alleges that "Officer Joe and his twin brother" sexually assaulted Plaintiff at unit 2G; that Plaintiff reported the incident to the PREA reporting department by letter; that Plaintiff was interviewed by Lieutenants King and Morhorse; and that they advised Plaintiff "not to ever report the situation, and if [Plaintiff] did they would have no trouble finding a c/o to kill [Plaintiff]." Taylor Decl. [47], Ex. 3 at 1-4.

         Plaintiffs second response to the Motion for Summary Judgment attached a grievance that describes the assault that was signed by Plaintiff and dated March 28, 2017. Response to Mot. for Summ. J. [60] Ex. 3; see also Id. Ex. 4 (Informational report citing March 28, 2017 grievance). A stamp notes that it was "RECEIVED" on March 30, 2017 by the OSCI Grievance Coordinator. Response to Mot. for Summ. J. [60] Ex. 3. Plaintiff also suggests that Defendants intentionally omitted "my first grievance of 2/12/2017." Response to Mot. for Summ. J. [60] at 4. Plaintiff later states "I reported this assault through an Inmate Communication Form on 4/12/2015 [that stated] 'is it considered a sinister issue for transgender [sic] to have sex with a staff member for drugs and money[?]'" Response to Mot. for Summ. J. [60] at 12.


         Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute of material fact, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine dispute of a material fact is "one that could reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Ellison v. Robertson, 357 F.3d 1072, 1075 (9th Cir. 2004).

         The Ninth Circuit has "held consistently that courts should construe liberally motion papers and pleadings filed by pro se inmates and should avoid applying summary judgment rules strictly." Thomas v. Ponder,611 F.3d 1144, 1150 (9th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). This rule exempts pro se inmates from strict compliance with the summary judgment rules, but it does not exempt them from all compliance. See Blaisdell v. Frappiea, 729 F.3d 1237, 1241 (9th Cir. 2013) ("This rule relieves pro se litigants from the strict application of procedural rules and demands that a court not hold missing or inaccurate legal terminology or muddled draftsmanship against them." (emphasis added); Marrero v. ...

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