United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
L. Maloney United States District Judge.
a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner under 42
U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), and state law. 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 against Defendants Washington,
Finco, and Leach, as well as Plaintiff's claims under 42
U.S.C. § 1981 and state law.
Joshua Lopp is presently incarcerated with the Michigan
Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Lakeland Correctional
Facility (LCF) in Coldwater, Branch County, Michigan.
Plaintiff sues MDOC Director Heidi Washington, Deputy
Director Thomas Finco, Classification Director L. Heinritz,
Special Activities Coordinator David Leach, and LCF Warden
Noah Nagy. Plaintiff sues all defendants in both their
personal and official capacities.
alleges that he is a member of the “Nation of Gods and
Earth” (NOGE), also known as the “Five
Percenters.” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.4.) As part of
his affiliation with that group, he believes that he must
refrain from eating meat or meat by-products.
October 2017, Plaintiff asked to be placed on the
“religious meal” plan available at LCF, but his
request was denied. Plaintiff filed a grievance about the
issue, but his grievance was denied. He asked to be placed on
a meat-free diet again in 2018, but Defendants Nagy, Adamson,
and Heinritz denied his request on December 3, 2018.
Plaintiff filed another grievance about the issue, but that
grievance was denied at all three steps of the grievance
alleges that Deputy Director Finco failed to direct his staff
to follow prison policy pertaining to religious meals, and
that Director Washington and Deputy Director Finco had the
authority to correct the actions of MDOC staff but failed to
claims that Defendants have, individually and in a conspiracy
with one another, violated prison policy and deprived
Plaintiff of his rights under the First Amendment and RLUIPA
by preventing him from exercising his religious beliefs
pertaining to his diet.
addition, Plaintiff claims that Defendants have denied him
equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment and 42 U.S.C.
§ 1981 because they are treating him differently from
prisoners who belong to other religious groups.
relief, Plaintiff seeks a declaration that Defendants denied
him his rights under the First Amendment, monetary damages,
and an injunction requiring Defendants to allow him to eat
from the meatless diet available at LCF.
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-but it has not ‘show[n]'-that the pleader
is entitled to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)); see also Hill v.
Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding
that the Twombly/Iqbal plausibility standard applies to
dismissals of prisoner cases on initial review under 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)).