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Murry v. Rink

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division

November 6, 2019

TIMOTHY DWAYNE MURRY, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID M. RINK, Defendant.

          OPINION

          Paul L. Maloney, United States District Judge

         This is 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 claim under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). Plaintiff's First Amendment free exercise and retaliation claims remain.

         Discussion

         I. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Chippewa Correctional Facility (URF) in Chippewa County, Michigan. The events about which he complains occurred at that facility. Plaintiff sues URF Chaplain David M. Rink.

         Plaintiff alleges that he is a Sunni Muslim. As part of his religious practice, Plaintiff participated in group prayer services. He was called out of his cell to participate in those services from October of 2018 to April of 2019. During April of 2019, Plaintiff signed up to participate in the Ramadan fast. Defendant Rink denied Plaintiff's request to participate in the fast.

         Plaintiff wrote a grievance against Defendant Rink regarding the denial. As part of the resolution of the grievance, Plaintiff completed a new religious preference form and Defendant Rink added Plaintiff to the Ramadan list. Plaintiff claims when he was added to the Ramadan call list he was removed from the callout for his group prayer services. As a result, Plaintiff missed his group prayer services on six Fridays, two before Ramadan and four during Ramadan.

         Plaintiff spoke with Rink about the issue and Rink indicated he would see what he could do. Nonetheless, Plaintiff missed nine more weeks of Friday group prayer services.

         Plaintiff asks the Court to order Defendant Rink to pay $375, 000 in compensatory and punitive damages.

         II. Failure to State a Claim

         A 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)).

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the federal Constitution or laws and must show that the deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Street v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir. 1996). Because § 1983 is a method for vindicating federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself, the first step in an action under § 1983 is to identify the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994).

         Plaintiff claims that Defendant Rink violated Plaintiff's First Amendment right to freely exercise his religion. Plaintiff also claims that Defendant Rink burdened Plaintiff's free exercise rights in retaliation for Plaintiff's filing a grievance against Rink. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Rink's action violate RLUIPA.

         Accepting Plaintiff's allegations as true, he has adequately alleged a claim or violation of his First Amendment free exercise rights as well as a claim for retaliation ...


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