Watison v. Carter

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 02-13-2012
  • Case #: 10-16778
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Farris for the Court; Circuit Judge Bea; Circuit Judge Noonan partially concurring and partially dissenting
  • Full Text Opinion

To claim violation of the “First Amendment right to file a grievance against prison officials and to be free from retaliation for doing so,” a prisoner must allege that (a) filing a grievance is protected conduct; (b) defendant took adverse actions; (c) the grievance precipitated those actions; (d) the actions “would chill or silence a person of ordinary firmness from future First Amendment activities”; and (e) the actions “did not advance legitimate goals of the correctional institution,” because they were arbitrary and capricious or “unnecessary to the maintenance of order in the institution.”

Nevada prisoner, Raymond Watison, sued Associate Warden Carter and correctional officers LaGier, Rodriguez, and Santos, alleging they violated his rights under Nevada statutes and federal constitutional claims in relation to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The district court dismissed with prejudice. Watison appealed. The Ninth Circuit reviewed de novo and found that (1) the district court properly dismissed where the “humiliation” of LaGier brushing legs with petitioner while he was on the toilet in his cell “did not rise to the level of severe psychological pain required to state an Eighth Amendment claim”; (2) although the district court properly dismissed the retaliation claim against Rodriguez under the Eighth Amendment--because no facts were alleged about harassing behavior, “chilling conduct,” connection to the emergency grievance, or lack of penological justification--Watison should be allowed the opportunity to correctly plead a First Amendment claim on remand; (3) retaliation claims against Carter, Santos, and LaGier should not have been dismissed where Watison sufficiently alleged that (a) filing an inmate grievance is protected conduct; (b) withholding meals, pointing a gun, and threatening to punch an inmate are adverse actions; (c) the filed grievance precipitated those actions; (d) the actions “would chill or silence a person of ordinary firmness from future First Amendment activities”; and (e) the actions were arbitrary and capricious, or “unnecessary to the maintenance of order in the institution”; and (4) Watison’s state claims should not have been dismissed with prejudice because the court could not say that “the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts,” and thus, supplemental jurisdiction should be considered on remand. AFFIRMED in part, REVERSED in part, and REMANDED.

Advanced Search