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Kakatin v. Kia'aina

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

March 29, 2018

FRANCISCO KAKATIN, #A0259489, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARD KIA‘AINA, COOK HELPER AT WAIAWA CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, sued in his individual capacity, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, ECF NO. 57

          J. Michael Seabright, Chief United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On March 2, 2017, pro se Plaintiff Francisco Kakatin (“Plaintiff”) filed a Third Amended Prisoner Civil Rights Complaint (“TAC”) alleging a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim for violation of his rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. ECF No. 48. During all times relevant to his claim, Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Waiawa Correctional Facility (“WCF”). The TAC names Richard Kai‘aina (“Defendant” or “Kia‘aina”), a WCF civilian kitchen worker employed by the State of Hawaii Department of Public Safety, in his individual capacity, as the sole Defendant.

         Currently before the court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 57. Pursuant to Local Rule 7(d), the court finds this matter suitable for disposition without a hearing. For the reasons that follow, the Motion is GRANTED.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background[1]

         Plaintiff, an African-American male, and Defendant were working in the WCF kitchen on August 31, 2014. TAC at 2-3; Def.'s Concise Statement of Facts (“CSF”) ¶¶ 3, 4.[2] At approximately 11:30 a.m. that day, and in the presence of inmate workers Tilton Lasua (“Lasua”) and Christopher Stark (“Stark”), Defendant allegedly yelled at Plaintiff calling him a “nigger” and “fucking nigger.” See Pl.'s Interview at 2, ECF No. 101-3; Pl.'s Statement at 1, ECF No. 101-2; Lasua Phone Interview at 1, ECF No. 101-5; Stark Interview, ECF No. 101-3 at 3.[3]After yelling at Plaintiff, Defendant allegedly said that he “hates fucking nigger, ” and that he was “going to fire his ass.” Lasua Interview at 1-2, ECF No. 101-6; TAC at 3 (alleging that “other inmates heard Defendant state that . . . [he] was going to get Plaintiff fired”) (quotation marks omitted).[4]

         On September 3, 2014, Plaintiff reported the incident to his boss, Janice Colon, saying that “[Defendant] was after [him].” Pl.'s Statement at 2, ECF No. 101-2. Plaintiff told Colon that “he didn't want to work if he needed to keep watching his back and told her what happened.” Sgt. McNeil's Summary of Investigation (“Summ.”) Ex. #9, ECF No. 111 at PageID #508.[5] Plaintiff later made inconsistent statements about what exactly he told Colon. On September 26, 2014, he stated that when discussing the incident with Colon, he “didn't tell” her “what happen[ed] between [himself] and [Defendant], ” but that “all I told her is that [Defendant] was in my face and he's after me and I can't be watching my back.” Pl.'s Interview at 2, ECF No. 101-3. And on March 22, 2018, Plaintiff described the incident - “[D]efendant used derogatory language towards me” - and stated that he told Colon on September 3, 2014 “that the incident occurred, ” to which Colon responded that she “was committed to look into it.” Pl.'s Decl. ¶¶ 11-12, ECF No. 113-1.

         On September 25, 2014, Colon reported to Sgt. McNeil that on September 3, 2014, Plaintiff “went to sick call” and failed to report to work. Sgt. McNeil's Summ. Ex. #21, ECF No. 111 at PageID #508. As summarized by Sgt. McNeil, Colon further reported that:

Kakatin gave [Colon] his medical memo during breakfast. Cook Colon asked him does he really want to work in the kitchen? Inmate Kakatin said no he don't [(sic)] want to. Later that day Cook Colon attended the Program Committee . . . when she decided to remove (terminate) Kakatin. Ms. Yokoyama walked in and mentioned that Kakatin told her that Cook Kia‘aina had called him a “Nigger.” [Colon's] response was “I'll inform my supervisor” . . . which she did on September 4, 2014.

Id.; see also Colon Decl. ¶¶ 5, 6, ECF No. 58-4 (stating that “during the breakfast serving [on September 3, 2014, Plaintiff] approached me and gave me a medical slip explaining why he was not present . . . [and stated] that he did not wish to continue working [in the kitchen]”). According to Colon, after Plaintiff said he did not want to continue working in the kitchen, she “informed him that this would result in his termination from the [kitchen] workline [and Plaintiff] confirmed that he no longer wanted to work on the [kitchen] workline.” Colon Decl. ¶ 6.

         Sometime after speaking with Colon, Plaintiff told his case manager, Christy Yokoyama, that Defendant had called him a “nigger.” See Pl.'s Statements, ECF Nos. 101-2, at 2, 101-3, at 2; Yokoyama's Statement, 101-8, at 1; Sgt. McNeil's Summ. Ex. #2, ECF No. 111, at PageID #506. Plaintiff also told Yokoyama that “Colon told him not to report to work anymore and that he should look for another workline.” Sgt. McNeil's Summ. Ex. #2, ECF No. 111, at PageID# 506-07.

         Plaintiff states that he was notified of his termination from the WCF kitchen workline on September 9, 2014. Pl.'s Decl. ¶ 14, ECF No. 113-1, TAC ¶ 7; see Pl.'s Statement, at 2, ECF No. 101-2 (“I was directed by [Colon] not to come back [to] work.”); Sgt. McNeil's Summ. Ex. #2, ECF No. 111, at 2 (“On September 9, 2014 . . . Kakatin told [Yokoyama] . . . that Colon told him not to return to work anymore and that he should look for another workline.”); cf. Lasua Interview at 2, ECF No. 101-6 (“Kakatin said that they kicked him out of the kitchen.”).

         According to Colon, on September 3, 2014, after speaking with Plaintiff that morning, she attended a program committee meeting. Colon Decl. ¶ 7. The “hiring and termination of inmates from various worklines” is discussed during such meetings. Id. Prior to the September 3, 2014 meeting, Colon “had decided to remove Kakatin from the [kitchen] workline because he had indicated . . . that he did not want to work there.” Id. ¶ 8.[6] Prior to her decision to terminate Plaintiff, Defendant “did not ask, suggest, recommend or in any way influence [Colon's] decision that Kakatin should be terminated” from the kitchen workline. Id. ¶¶ 10, 11. And according to Defendant, “[p]rior to Kakatin's termination . . . [he] did not ask, suggest or recommend to anyone, including Colon, that Kakatin be terminated” from the kitchen workline. ...


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