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Waters v. Premo

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division

February 26, 2019

JEFF PREMO, B. LANEY, and LT. YANCEY, Defendants.


          Youlee Yim You United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Dennis Waters (“Waters”), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, has filed a civil rights complaint stemming from his placement in administrative segregation at the Oregon State Penitentiary (“OSP”). He brings this action against Jeff Premo, Superintendent of the Oregon Department of Corrections (“ODOC”), B. Laney, Assistant Superintendent, and Lieutenant Yancey, collectively “defendants.” Waters alleges: (1) racial discrimination under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1982, (2) civil rights conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985 and 1986, and (3) violations of the Fourteenth and Eighth Amendments pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Compl. 4, ECF #1. Waters seeks: (1) to be removed from administrative segregation, (2) to have his wife placed back on his visiting list, (3) to be placed back on all of his programs, and (4) to have defendants held liable for the death of another inmate. Id. at 6. Additionally, in his response, Waters contends that he is entitled to monetary damages of $2, 000 for each day he spent in administrative segregation. Resp. 2, 4, ECF #46.

         Defendants have moved for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, defendants' motion is granted.[1]


         Waters was admitted to the custody of ODOC on February 10, 1997, to begin serving a life sentence. Booher Decl. ¶ 3, ECF #44; Miles Decl. ¶ 3, ECF #41. He is currently housed at Eastern Oregon Correction Institution (“EOCI”). Miles Decl. ¶ 3, ECF #41.

         On July 18, 2016, Waters was housed at OSP. Booher Decl. ¶ 5, ECF #44. He became the subject of an investigation by the State Police and Special Investigations Unit (“SIU”) involving the introduction of controlled substances into OSP. ECF #48, at 3. The controlled substances were linked to numerous unscheduled inmate trips to the emergency room and possibly an inmate death. Id. Lieutenant Yancey requested that Waters be housed in administrative segregation for 180 days to prevent his interference with the ongoing investigation. Id. Superintendent Premo approved Lieutenant Yancey's request on August 5, 2016. Id. In approving the request, Superintendent Premo wrote “60” days on the line designating the length of placement. Id. at 5. However, two days later, Superintendent Premo corrected this “oversight” by email, noting that the 60 days should be changed to 180 days. Id. at 6.

         Waters claims that, because he had let “people know [he] was going to sue OSP, ” ODOC employees “decided to use their power and punish [him] by” placing him in administrative segregation. Compl. 5, ECF #1. He claims that Lieutenant Yancey and Jerry Plante (“Plante”) “lied to” Superintendent Premo and Assistant Superintendent Laney “to get them to place [him] in” administrative segregation “and remove [his] wife from [his] visiting list.” Id. According to Waters, ODOC employees “snatched all black inmates over a white inmate's death.” Id.

         On August 8, 2016, Waters received a Notice of Hearing with an attached copy of the pertinent administrative rules, OAR 291-046-005, et. seq. ECF #48, at 11. Waters' hearing took place on August 11, 2016. Id. Hearings Officer Nofziger conducted the hearing, and recommended that Waters be assigned to administrative segregation for a period of up to 180 days or until placement was no longer necessary. Id. at 3-4.

         On November 6, 2016, while in administrative segregation, Waters was charged with additional misconduct, specifically racketeering for conspiring to pay to have another inmate assaulted. Galemore Decl. ¶ 4, ECF #43. This extended his time in administrative segregation and resulted in his transfer to the Intensive Management Unit (“IMU”) at Snake River Correctional Institution (“SRCI”), where he was housed between January 25, 2017, and July 18, 2017. Booher Decl. ¶ 5, ECF #44.

         On July 18, 2017, Waters was housed in general population at SRCI until April 4, 2018, when he was returned to EOCI. Galemore Decl. ¶ 5, ECF #43; Miles Decl. ¶ 5, ECF #41. At the time the motion for summary judgment was filed, Waters was no longer housed in administrative segregation. Miles Decl. ¶ 5, ECF #41.

         Water's wife, Kelly Waters (“Kelly”), had her visiting privileges suspended in August 2016 while the SIU investigation was pending. Lenex Decl. ¶ 3, ECF #42; ECF #42, at 4. Kelly's visiting privileges were reinstated on June 5, 2017. ECF #42, at 3. After her privileges were restored, Kelly resumed visitation with Waters. Galemore Decl. ¶ 6, ECF #43. She last visited Waters just several days before the motion for summary judgment was filed, and remains on Waters' visiting list at EOCI. Miles Decl., Ex. 2, ECF #41.


         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] party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading, but . . . must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986) (quotation marks omitted). Rule 56(c) provides that “sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute be shown” to require a fact finder to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial. Id. at 249 (quoting First National Bank of Arizona v. Cities Service Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288-89 (1968)). The moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law when the nonmoving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of a claim on which the nonmoving party has the burden of proof. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. 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

         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 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).

         To state a civil rights claim, a plaintiff must set forth the specific factual basis upon which he claims each defendant is liable. Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980). There is no respondeat superior liability under § 1983. Monell v. Dept. of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691-95 (1978) (concluding that the supervisor of someone who allegedly violated a plaintiffs constitutional rights is not made liable for the violation by virtue of that role). A supervisor is liable in his or her individual capacity for constitutional violations of a subordinate only “if the supervisor participated in or directed the violations, or knew of the violations and failed to act to prevent them.” Taylor, 880 F.2d at 1045.

         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). This does not entitle pro se pleadings to 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).


         I. ...

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