599 F.3d 942 (9th Cir. 2010), 07-55574, Morton v. Hall

Docket Nº:07-55574.
Citation:599 F.3d 942
Opinion Judge:GOULD, Circuit Judge:
Party Name:Bruce Alan MORTON, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. James HALL, e/s/a Jim Hall; Vincent Anderson; Christy Hale; Richard Howell; Albert Luna, Defendants-Appellees.
Attorney:Konrad L. Trope, Novo Law Group, P.C., Los Angeles, CA, for the plaintiff-appellant. Kenneth G. Lake, Deputy Attorney General for the State of California, Los Angeles, CA, for the defendants-appellees.
Judge Panel:Before: RONALD M. GOULD and SANDRA S. IKUTA, Circuit Judges, and LLOYD D. GEORGE, District Judge.[**]
Case Date:March 12, 2010
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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Page 942

599 F.3d 942 (9th Cir. 2010)

Bruce Alan MORTON, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

James HALL, e/s/a Jim Hall; Vincent Anderson; Christy Hale; Richard Howell; Albert Luna, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 07-55574.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

March 12, 2010

Submitted March 1, 2010.[*]

Page 943

Konrad L. Trope, Novo Law Group, P.C., Los Angeles, CA, for the plaintiff-appellant.

Kenneth G. Lake, Deputy Attorney General for the State of California, Los Angeles, CA, for the defendants-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Stephen V. Wilson, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. CV-04-00831-SVW.

Before: RONALD M. GOULD and SANDRA S. IKUTA, Circuit Judges, and LLOYD D. GEORGE, District Judge.[**]

GOULD, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiff-Appellant Bruce Alan Morton (" Morton" ) appeals the dismissal of his Eighth Amendment 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against prison officials alleging that their deliberate indifference contributed to a violent assault on him by inmates on June 18, 2003. The district court found that Morton had failed to exhaust prison administrative remedies with regard to this claim as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (" PLRA" ), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We affirm.

Page 944

I

On June 18, 2003, Morton was assaulted by unknown inmates in the prison yard at Ironwood State Prison in Blythe, California (" Ironwood" ). It is not clear why he was assaulted, although he alleges it was because inmates gained access to his prison central file (" C-file" ) and learned facts relating to his commitment offense (assault and murder of his five-year-old step-daughter) that stigmatized him as a sex-offender. Following the assault, Morton was moved to protective administrative segregation pending investigation of the assault. Morton was later transferred to a protective housing unit at Corcoran State Prison (" Corcoran" ).

On July 13, 2003, following the assault, Ironwood denied Morton visitation rights with minors. The grounds for doing so were based on Section 3173.1, title 15 of the California Code of Regulations, which imposes visiting restrictions on inmates arrested for or convicted of offenses involving minors, including sex offenses and homicide. Morton filed a grievance with the prison administration regarding this restriction on a standard California Department of Corrections (" CDC" ) " Form 602," as required by governing regulations, see Cal.Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3084.2(a), and eventually exhausted his administrative remedies as to the denial of his visitation rights, see Cal.Code Regs. tit. 15 § 3084.5(e).

Morton filed the present action in district court against Ironwood's warden, associate warden, three corrections counselors, and two corrections officers (collectively " Defendants" ). He alleged four state-law causes of action and an Eighth Amendment violation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His § 1983 claim was premised on three discrete theories: (1) the deliberate indifference of prison staff contributed to his June 2003 assault, (2) his confinement to administrative segregation following the assault was unlawful, and (3) denial of visitation rights with minors was a serious deprivation of his rights. Defendants subsequently moved for summary judgment and argued, inter alia, the affirmative defenses of failure to exhaust administrative remedies under the PLRA and qualified immunity.

The district court held an evidentiary hearing on September 18, 2006, on Defendants' exhaustion argument. Morton presented no evidence of exhaustion as to his claims of assault and improper administrative segregation. Defendants submitted the testimony of Robert Hall, the Inmate Appeals Coordinator at Corcoran, and Patrick Tonra, the Inmate Appeals Coordinator at Ironwood. Both men provided a detailed overview of the record-keeping system for administrative appeals at each prison. Both men declared that they had reviewed hard-copy and electronic records and had found no evidence that Morton had ever filed a grievance pertaining to his assault. They testified that the only grievance for which records existed was Morton's complaint relating to denial of visitations with minors.

The district court found that Morton had failed to exhaust administrative remedies on his § 1983 claims regarding the assault and administrative segregation, and dismissed those claims without prejudice. The district court found...

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