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Tholson v. Miller

United States District Court, D. Alaska

January 27, 2016

LEON-MICHAEL THOLSON, Plaintiff,
v.
DEBBIE MILLER, et al., Defendants.

ORDER RE PENDING MOTIONS AND SCHEDULING ORDER

SHARON L. GLEASON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Plaintiff Leon-Michael:Tholson was a pretrial detainee at all relevant times in this case, who was held at the Anchorage Correctional Center (“ACC”). He has raised a number of claims against Defendants, who are various employees of the Department of Corrections.[1] Several motions are pending before the Court in this case, each of which this order is intended to address. The primary motion is Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment filed at Docket 336. Plaintiff filed a response to the motion at Docket 370, which addressed the excessive force claim, to which Defendants replied at Docket 377. Plaintiff filed a supplemental response at Docket 381 addressing the other outstanding claims, to which Defendants filed a reply at Docket 382. Plaintiff filed a Request to Re-Brief Motion for Summary Judgment at Docket 385, which Defendants opposed at Docket 387. In addition, Plaintiff filed a “Notice of Errata” at Docket 391, and appended a declaration in which he sought to amend certain deposition testimony he had provided in this case, which Defendants moved to strike at Docket 392. This order also addresses three other motions filed by Plaintiff at Dockets 371, 380, and 390.

Plaintiff alleges civil rights violations including an excessive use of force claim against Lieutenant Hugh Hubbard related to Mr. Tholson’s escort to the segregation unit on or about June 30, 2012 (Claim 1). He also raised a due process claim asserting that Superintendent Debbie Miller and Kitchen Manager Mickey Young knowingly provided inadequate food services on or about August 1, 2012 (Claim 2). He raised a due process claim against Officer Dian Thomas for being left in restraints during a visit with his son on or about October 9, 2012 (Claim 3). Plaintiff raised claims under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) asserting that on or about January 7 and/or 8, 2013, Facility Standards Officer Suluia Augafa, Superintendent Miller, and Officer Dian Thomas violated his religious rights by hampering his efforts to expand the “spiritual materials” of the facility (Claims 4 and 5). Plaintiff raised another RLUIPA claim against Superintendent Miller for preventing him from taking an extra blanket and spiritual book to the recreation yard on or about June 7, 2013 (Claim 6). Plaintiff raised a failure-to-protect claim against Lieutenant Sondra Thomas alleging that her actions on or about June 12, 2013 subjected him to “threats and beatings” from June 12 through June 20, 2013 (Claim 7, mislabeled as Claim 6). Plaintiff raised a due process and equal protection claim asserting that on or about July 3, 2013 Sergeant Thomas Elmore denied Plaintiff an opportunity to call the Alaska State Troopers to report the assaults alleged in Claim 7 (Claim 8). Finally, Plaintiff included Rebecca Cowart-Wilkerson as a named defendant in the caption of the Third Amended Complaint (“TAC”), but failed to mention her in the body of the TAC. Mr. Tholson seeks damages in the amount of $100, 000 from each defendant, together with punitive damages in the amount of $5, 000 from each defendant. He also seeks an order that would require modification of the ACC food carts to keep food at the appropriate temperature and compliance with the RLUIPA.[2]

On October 30, 2013, the Court dismissed Claims 3 and 4, Defendants Rebecca Cowart-Wilkerson and Dian Thomas, and Superintendent Miller as to Claim 5.[3]Defendants now seek summary judgment on each the remaining claims.

I. Jurisdiction

This Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because this case is a civil action arising under federal law.

II. Summary Judgment Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) directs a court to “grant 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.” The burden of showing the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact lies with the moving party.[4] If the moving party meets this burden, the non-moving party must present specific factual evidence demonstrating the existence of a genuine issue of fact.[5] The non-moving party may not rely on mere allegations or denials.[6] He must demonstrate that enough evidence supports the alleged factual dispute to require a finder of fact to make a determination at trial between the parties’ differing versions of the truth.[7]

When considering a motion for summary judgment, a court must accept as true all evidence presented by the non-moving party, and draw “all justifiable inferences” in the non-moving party’s favor.[8] To reach the level of a genuine dispute, the evidence must be such “that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party.”[9] The non-moving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.”[10] If the evidence provided by the non-moving party is “merely colorable” or “not significantly probative, ” summary judgment is appropriate.[11]

A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support that assertion by:

(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.[12]

III. Discussion

Mr. Tholson’s claims arise under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The validity of claims raised under § 1983 are not governed by a single generic standard. Rather, the Court must judge each claim by reference to the specific ...


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