United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
J. QUIST, 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 Defendants Marshall and Lesatz.
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Baraga Correctional Facility (AMF)
in Baraga, Baraga County, Michigan. The events about which he
complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues Chaplain
Keith Snyder, Deputy Warden Lincoln Marshall, and Warden Dan
states that he is Catholic and his religious beliefs require
him to receive the sacraments of penance (confession) and the
Eucharist on a weekly basis. Plaintiff alleges that in April
of 2018, he sent Defendant Snyder a request to be placed on
the weekly call-out for Catholic worship services. Plaintiff
was placed on call-out for the non-denominational worship
service conducted by Defendant Snyder. Plaintiff wrote to
Defendant Snyder, objecting that he was Catholic and needed
to attend Catholic services, which included the sacraments of
Confession and the Eucharist. Plaintiff's request was
denied. On October 28, 2018, Plaintiff sent a letter to
Defendants Snyder and Lesatz, requesting to be placed on the
call-out for the weekly Catholic services held in the 300
building, so that he could have access to Catholic clergy,
make confession, and receive communion. Plaintiff also stated
that if he could not attend services at AMF, he wished to be
transferred to a prison where he could exercise his Catholic
October 31, 2018, Defendant Snyder sent Plaintiff a
memorandum denying his requests, stating:
As has been explained . . . it takes at least 5 requests to
start a call-out and 4 to keep it going, we don't at
present have a credentialed volunteer to lead a call-out, and
one's access to call-outs of their declared religious
preference is not a factor in where one locks. If I get at
least five requests for Catholic call-out there will be a
call-out. If we can get a volunteer qualified to minister the
sacraments, you will have access to the sacraments. Even if
neither of these conditions above can be met, you will
necessarily be subject to whatever governs transfers, which I
have also said I have neither functional understanding nor
input in the process.
(ECF No. 1, PageID.4.)
then sent another letter attempting to resolve the denial of
his request to attend religious services in the 300 building
chapel, where Plaintiff asserts there are ongoing, active
Catholic worship services, which are conducted by a duly
ordained Catholic priest. Plaintiff's request was not
granted. Plaintiff states that MDOC policy allows for
inter-complex travel and contact between prisoners of
different security levels for a wide variety of situations
and reasons. Plaintiff further states that MDOC policy
requires a prison chaplain to initiate transfers for
prisoners whose religious dietary needs cannot be met at
their current facilities, and that this rationale also
applies to religious needs for services.
November 1, 2018, Plaintiff filed a grievance on Defendants
Snyder and Lesatz regarding the denial of Catholic services.
Plaintiff's grievance was denied by the Assistant Deputy
Warden on December 3, 2018. On December 6, 2018, Plaintiff
filed a step II grievance appeal, which was denied by
Defendant Lesatz on December 10, 2018. On December 12, 2018,
Plaintiff filed a step III grievance appeal, which was denied
by the MDOC legal affairs division on January 7, 2019.
sent requests to be transferred for religious reasons to
Defendant Marshall on November 1, 2018, November 23, 2018,
and December 5, 2018. Plaintiff did not receive a response.
Plaintiff filed a grievance on Defendant Marshall on December
6, 2018, which was denied on December 12, 2018.
Plaintiff's step II and III appeals were also denied.
Plaintiff claims that Muslim and Protestant prisoners are
allowed to attend group worship, and that the denial of his
ability to do so violates his right to equal protection.
claims that Defendants' conduct violated his First
Amendment right to practice his religion and his Fourteenth
Amendment right to equal protection. Plaintiff seeks
declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as damages.