United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
J. JONKER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act,
Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996) (PLRA), the Court
is required to dismiss any prisoner action brought under
federal law if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks
monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief. 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A; 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(c). The Court must read Plaintiff's pro se
complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404
U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept Plaintiff's allegations
as true, unless they are clearly irrational or wholly
incredible. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33
(1992). Applying these standards, the Court will dismiss
Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim
against Defendant Washington.
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Ionia Correctional Facility (ICF)
in Ionia, Ionia County, Michigan. The events about which he
complains, however, occurred at the Alger Correctional
Facility (LMF) in Munising, Alger County, Michigan. Plaintiff
sues MDOC Director Heidi E. Washington, Director of Special
Activities David Leach, and Prison Chaplain Unknown Lindholm.
alleges that he has been a practicing Muslim since 1980.
Plaintiff has had a stated religious preference of Muslim
with the MDOC since 2008 and has never missed fasting during
the Holy month of Ramadan. Plaintiff was transferred to LMF
on February 2, 2016, and signed a request form to participate
in the 2016 Ramadan fast during religious services. Plaintiff
assumed that the procedure would be the same in 2017.
2017, the memo showing the deadline to sign up for the
Ramadan fast was posted on a cart, which was stationed in
front of the office where prisoners could get disbursements,
grievance and medical forms, and requests to participate in
Ramadan. On February 9, 2017, Plaintiff was placed in
administrative segregation. Therefore, Plaintiff could not
use the normal services for general population prisoners.
Consequently, Plaintiff never saw the memo and was unaware of
Friday May 5, 2017, Plaintiff was released from
administrative segregation after nearly 90 days, and he
immediately sent a written request to attend the Friday
mandatory Al-Islam Jumu'ah service. On Monday May 8,
2017, Defendant Lindholm responded to Plaintiff's request
and Plaintiff attended the service on Friday May 12, 2017.
While at the service, Plaintiff requested a
lacto-ovo-vegetarian meal for Ramadan. Defendant Lindholm
told Plaintiff that it was too late to sign up for the fast
because the deadline was May 8, 2017. Plaintiff explained
that he had just been released from administrative
segregation and thought that he could sign up during the
service like he had in 2016. Defendant Lindholm just stated
that it was different this year.
later learned that on May 8, 2017, the Assistant Resident
Unit Supervisor (ARUS) had gone cell to cell in
administrative segregation in order to collect names of those
wishing to participate in the Ramadan fast. Because Plaintiff
had already been released from administrative segregation, he
was not included in this count. Plaintiff asked Defendant
Lindholm if he could call Defendant Leach and add his name to
the list. Plaintiff states that Defendant Lindholm told him
that Defendant Leach had refused to add Plaintiff's name
and had stated that if it became a legal issue, they would
deal with it. Defendant Leach further stated that it was not
his responsibility to inform every Muslim inmate of the
15, 2017, Plaintiff told Deputy Warden Immel about his
problem and asked for help. Deputy Warden Immel told
Plaintiff to send him a kite, but never replied to
Plaintiff's kite. On May 17, 2017, Plaintiff sent a
letter to Defendant Leach explaining that staff in
administrative segregation had not signed prisoners up for
the fast until the day of the deadline, and that
participation in the Ramadan fast was extremely important to
Plaintiff's religious beliefs. Prisoner Counselor Prunick
reviewed Plaintiff's step I grievance in a perfunctory
way, incorrectly stating that Plaintiff had been released to
Maple Unit, when he had actually been released to Pine Unit.
On May 19, 2017, Plaintiff sent another letter to Defendant
Lindholm, asking him to contact Deputy Warden Immel and the
Trinity Food Service Director in an effort to have
Plaintiff's name placed on the list for the Ramadan fast.
26, 2017, Defendant Lindholm threatened to replace
Plaintiff's religious position as the prayer leader for
the Salatul Jumu'ah, which is the Friday congregation
prayer, if Plaintiff continued to write grievances. Defendant
Lindholm stated, “If you and I can't get along, I
will replace you for another chaplain's
assistan[t].” On May 29, 2017, Plaintiff filed a
request for declaratory relief to Defendant Washington.
Defendant Washington's office did not respond to
Plaintiff's request until August 10, 2017. During Ramadan
of 2017, Plaintiff was not allowed to participate in the fast
and suffered weight loss and emotional trauma.
claims that Defendants violated his rights under the First
Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a). Plaintiff
seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as
Failure to State a Claim
complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it
fails “‘to give the defendant fair notice of what
the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355
U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While a complaint need not contain
detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's allegations
must include more than labels and conclusions.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“Threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”). The
court must determine whether the complaint contains
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 679. Although the plausibility standard is not equivalent
to a “‘probability requirement,' . . . it
asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[W]here
the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more
than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged - ...