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Monical v. Towers

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

December 4, 2018




         Plaintiff Bradley Monical (“Monical”), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, has filed a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Monical is incarcerated at the Oregon State Penitentiary. He alleges that defendants, who are various employees of Oregon Department of Corrections (“ODOC”), violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights to Due Process and Equal Protection by imposing disciplinary sanctions following his escape from Jackson County Jail. He seeks a declaration that defendants' actions violated his constitutional rights, correction of the misconduct report that was written upon his return to ODOC custody, credit for time spent in segregation, and $100, 000 in damages. Am. Compl. 27.

         This court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343(a)(3). All parties have consented to allow a Magistrate Judge to enter final orders and judgment in this case in accordance with FRCP 73 and 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Defendants have moved for summary judgment. ECF #67. For the reasons discussed below, defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.


         Monical was admitted to the custody of ODOC on July 11, 2011. Decl. of Sam Nagy (“Nagy Decl.”) ¶ 4. Approximately one month later, he was transported to Jackson County Jail for court appearances, and on November 11, 2012, he escaped by leaping from the jail's rooftop exercise yard onto a nearby tree. Am. Compl. 5; Nagy Decl., Att. 3, at 4. U.S. Marshals, Oregon State Police, and members of the Jackson County Sheriff's Office unsuccessfully attempted to apprehend Monical, and he remained at large for nearly one year. Nagy Decl., Att. 3, at 4. The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Warrant Strike Team arrested Monical on November 13, 2013, and he was returned to Jackson County Jail. Id.

         Monical returned to ODOC custody on September 28, 2015, and was held in administrative segregation[1] for 11 days pending the results of the investigation into his escape. Nagy Decl. ¶ 4. On October 9, 2015, defendant Inspector Christina Towers (“Towers”) issued a misconduct report, outlining the details of the escape and assigning a rule violation of 4.20 Escape I. Id., Att. 3, at 4. Correctional Captain Jeff Dickinson (“Dickinson”) reviewed the report, and approved holding Monical in temporary segregation status[2] pending a disciplinary hearing. Id. Monical was placed in temporary segregation status for five days, until his hearing on October 14, 2015. Id., Att. 3, at 1.

         At his disciplinary hearing, Monical admitted to escaping from the Jackson County Jail through the rooftop exercise yard. Id., Att. 3, at 15-16. Defendant Hearings Officer Sam Nagy (“Nagy”) issued a preliminary order[3] finding that Monical violated Rule 4.20 Escape I when he left the secure perimeter of Jackson County Jail without authorization. Id., Att. 3, at 1. Nagy imposed a sanction of 90 days' disciplinary segregation with credit for time served, 14 days' loss of privileges upon release from the disciplinary segregation unit, and a $100 disciplinary fine. Id., Att. 3, at 1-2, 7. On October 22, 2015, Monical was transferred to the disciplinary segregation unit at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution. Nagy Decl. ¶ 4. The functional unit manager approved Nagy's preliminary order on October 28, 2015, and it became a final order. Id., Att. 3, at 2[4]; id., Att. 4, at 19.

         Monical petitioned for administrative review of the final order on November 7, 2015.[5]Id., Att. 4, at 6-17. On November 30, 2015, defendant Inspector General Michael Gower (“Gower”) affirmed the final order, finding there was substantial compliance with ODOC rules governing prohibited inmate conduct (OAR 291-105), the violation was supported by a preponderance of the evidence, and the sanctions were in accordance with the rules. Id., Att. 4, at 1.


         I. Summary Judgment

         A party is entitled to summary judgment 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.” FRCP 56(a). Summary judgment is not proper if material factual issues exist for trial. Warren v. City of Carlsbad, 58 F.3d 439, 441 (9th Cir. 1995).

         The moving party bears the burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). “When judging the evidence at the summary judgment stage, the district court is not to make credibility determinations or weigh conflicting evidence, and is required to draw all inferences in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Musick v. Burke, 913 F.2d 1390, 1394 (9th Cir. 1990). Where different ultimate inferences may be drawn, summary judgment is inappropriate. Sankovich v. Life Ins. Co. of North America, 638 F.2d 136, 140 (9th Cir. 1981).

         However, deference to the nonmoving party has limits; a party asserting that a fact cannot be true or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion with admissible evidence. FRCP 56(c). A nonmoving party cannot defeat summary judgment by relying on the allegations in the complaint, unsupported conjecture, or conclusory statements. Hernandez v. Spacelabs Medical, Inc., 343 F.3d 1107, 1112 (9th Cir. 2003). Thus, where “the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd., v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

         II. Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983

         The Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 “is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred.” Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted). Section 1983 liability “arises only upon a showing of personal participation by the defendant, ” acting under color of state law, that deprived the plaintiff of a constitutional or federal statutory right. Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). “A person ‘subjects' another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of section 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts, or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made.” Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978).

         Federal courts hold a pro se litigant's pleadings to “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1137 (9th Cir. 1987); see Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007) (per curiam) (a document filed pro se “is to be liberally construed”; a plaintiff need only give the defendant fair notice of the claim and the grounds on which it rests) (citation omitted). “However, a liberal interpretation of a civil rights compliant may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled.” Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). In addition, pro se pleadings may not receive the benefit of every conceivable doubt, but only to reasonable factual inferences in the plaintiff's favor. McKinney v. De Bord, 507 F.2d 501, 504 (9th Cir. 1974).


         Defendants contend they are entitled to summary judgment because: (1) Monical's due-process claims fail as a matter of law; (2) Nagy provided Monical with all process that was due; (3) Monical has failed to state an equal protection claim; and (4) defendants are entitled to qualified immunity from damages. Mot. Summ. J. 3.

         I. Due ...

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