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Thomas v. Celaya 1983 MSJ

Thomas v. Celaya 1983 MSJ

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Published by: Northern District of California Blog on Mar 29, 2011
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03/31/2011

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The Court dismissed all claims against Defendant Captain A. Hedgpeth for failure tostate a claim. (See Docket No. 71.)
Order Granting MTD & MSJP:\PRO-SE\SJ.JF\CR.06\Thomas489_grant-mtd&msj.wpd
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NOT FOR CITATIONIN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTFOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIALARRY DONNELL THOMAS,Plaintiff,vs.J. CELAYA, et al.,Defendants. ))))))))))))No. C 06-00489 JF (PR)ORDER GRANTING MOTION TODISMISS; GRANTING MOTION FORSUMMARY JUDGMENT(Docket No. 87)Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, brought the instant civil rights actionpursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court found that Plaintiff’s second amendedcomplaint (“SAC”), (Docket No. 67), when liberally construed, stated cognizable claims,and ordered service on Defendants Lieutenant J. Celaya, Lieutenant Ross, CorrectionalOfficer Kowalski, Correctional Officer J. Lopez, Sergeant J. Newton, Sergeant Locke,and Sergeant J. Stevenson at Salinas Valley State Prison (“SVSP”).
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To date, OfficerLopez has not yet been properly served. All other Defendants move to dismiss the claims
Case5:06-cv-00489-JF Document121 Filed03/29/11 Page1 of 22
 
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The Court notes that Plaintiff filed additional copies of his opposition and exhibitsthereto on August 12, 2010, (Docket Nos. 115-17), which are in essence the same as thepapers filed on July 16, 2010, (Docket Nos. 110-11).
Order Granting MTD & MSJP:\PRO-SE\SJ.JF\CR.06\Thomas489_grant-mtd&msj.wpd
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against Celaya for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, and for summary judgmentwith respect to the remaining claims. (Docket No. 87.) Plaintiff has filed opposition,
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and Defendants have filed a reply.
DISCUSSIONI. Statement of Facts
The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise indicated. Plaintiff’sallegations against the moving Defendants involve events that occurred at SVSP betweenNovember 4 and November 7, 2002. On November 4, 2002, Plaintiff was housed inFacility C at SVSP and was cleared to double cell. (SAC at 6.) Because Plaintiff wasbeginning to experience “incompatibility issues” with his cellmate, it became necessary toalter his housing arrangements. (Id.) Plaintiff himself made a request for a conveniencecell move,
i.e.
, specifically to swap places with an inmate who was housed in a cell byhimself. (Id.) For unspecified reasons, Plaintiff’s desired move did not occur. (Id.)According to the declarations submitted in support of Defendants’ motion, cellmoves can be a difficult process depending on the amount of space available and theparticular inmate involved. (J. Stevenson Decl. at 2, Docket No. 94.) At that time, SVSPwas experiencing acute population pressures because of a heavy intake of inmates. (Id.;J. Celaya Decl. at 2, Docket No. 88.) In particular during the week of November 4, 2002,SVSP was scheduled to receive forty-nine additional inmates on seven buses, and six of these buses were scheduled to arrive at SVSP on November 6, 2002. (T. Frye Decl. at 2.Docket No. 89.) Double-celling was necessary to free-up bed space. (Celaya Decl. at 2.)Placing Plaintiff with a new cellmate presented various challenges, especially ashis placement ranked as an eight on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the most difficult.(Stevenson Decl. at 2.) Factors that complicated Plaintiff’s placement included his
Case5:06-cv-00489-JF Document121 Filed03/29/11 Page2 of 22
 
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Order Granting MTD & MSJP:\PRO-SE\SJ.JF\CR.06\Thomas489_grant-mtd&msj.wpd
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security level, gang affiliation, ethnicity, and willingness to have a cellmate. (Id.) At thetime, it was customary for African-American inmates, such as Plaintiff, to be housed withother African-American inmates. Moreover, Plaintiff himself admitted that although hewas unaffiliated with a prison gang, the fact that he has been housed with Crip gangmembers precluded him from being housed with active members of other prison gangs.(SAC at 6.) Additionally, the acute population pressures at SVSP further complicatedhousing assignments because there were fewer inmates at the prison who were approvedto double cell and did not already have a cellmate. (Stevenson Decl. at 2.)In an effort to find Plaintiff a compatible cellmate, prison officials broughtPlaintiff and four other inmates into the hobby shop of Facility C. (Id.) These individualswere selected specifically because they were African-American and were unaffiliatedwith a prison gang. (Id.) Stevenson informed the inmates that they needed to talk witheach other to determine whether they would be compatible cellmates. While two of theinmates immediately agreed to be cellmates, Plaintiff and the remaining two inmates didnot agree to be cellmates with each other. (Id
.
) They were sent to SVSP’s Receiving andRelease (“R&R”) facility, as there were no available cells at Facility C. (Id.)Plaintiff arrived at the R&R on the evening of November 4, 2002, and he remainedthere for two nights until November 6, 2002, when the six buses of inmates arrived atSVSP, which required that all R&R cells be made available. (Frye Decl. at 2.) A copy of the R&R log book confirms the dates of Plaintiff’s time in the R&R, and that severaltransports arrived at the prison on November 6, 2002. (Celaya Decl., Ex. B.) Plaintiff was assigned back to a cell in Facility C. (SAC at 9.)Plaintiff arrived back in Facility C at around 8:00 p.m. on November 6, 2002. (Id.)He was assigned to a cell with another inmate who appeared to be compatible with him,but for unknown reasons the arrangement did not work out. (Celaya Decl. at 3.)According to Plaintiff, the inmate refused to be housed with him because Plaintiff was nota “Bay Area Cat[].” (SAC at 9.) There being no other cells available, Plaintiff wastemporarily placed in Facility C’s sallyport, a vestibule that connects the housing portion
Case5:06-cv-00489-JF Document121 Filed03/29/11 Page3 of 22

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