Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jennings v. Blades

United States District Court, D. Idaho

March 15, 2019

JONATHAN ROBERT JENNINGS, Plaintiff,
v.
RANDY BLADES; SUSAN WESSELS; TIMOTHY McKAY; ROBERT BLACK; ROB WRIGHT; KENNETH SOLTS; MICHAEL HARTWICK; PHIL LUVISI; DENNIS FRICK; RHONDA OWENS; DAVID DEITZ; CORRECTIONAL OFFICER JANE DOE; CORRECTIONAL OFFICER JOHN DOE; and FOOD SERVICE OFFICER JANET DOE, in their individual and official capacities, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          B. Lynn Winmill U.S. District Court Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         The Court has before it plaintiff's motions to appoint counsel, to electronically file, and to amend his complaint, and defendants' motions for summary judgment. The motions are fully briefed and at issue. For the reasons explained below, the Court will deny the motions filed by plaintiff and grant the motions for summary judgment filed by defendants.

         LITIGATION BACKGROUND

         When plaintiff Jonathan Robert Jennings filed this action, he was a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction (“IDOC”), incarcerated at Idaho State Correctional Center (“ISCC”). He has since been released. He claims that while incarcerated, he was discriminated against because of his religious beliefs. Specifically, he claims that he was not provided food consistent with his Jewish faith unlike other inmates who were granted accommodations for their religious beliefs.

         As a member of the Jewish faith, Jennings practices periodic fasting on certain days, from an hour before dawn to an hour after dusk. Because inmates are not allowed to keep a tray of food or an extra lunch after the designated mealtime, Jennings requested that defendants make available a meal for him “to consume at the end of his religious fast, ” and that his request was denied, even though defendants allow it for Muslim inmates during Ramadan. Jennings alleges that as a result of his decision to fast and defendants' refusal to provide him with a meal after his fasting period is concluded, he goes without food for “over 36 consecutive hours” when he decides to fast.

         In addition, Jennings requested that, during the holy days of Passover, he be provided with “a tray of food to be made” that did not contain any leavened food, and that his request was denied. Because Plaintiff's religious beliefs require him to avoid leavened food during the week of Passover, he went without food for that period of time. Plaintiff alleges that Christian inmates are allowed a special meal, along with a department-wide celebration, for Christmas, but that no similar accommodation has been made for Passover. Jennings has made similar claims under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”) and Idaho's Free Exercise of Religion Protected Act (“FERPA”), Idaho Code § 73-401 et seq.

         The defendants filed motions for summary judgment in November of 2018. On December 3, 2018, Jennings filed a motion for an extension of time to respond, alleging that he was busy with work and that his computer “freezes up and shuts down.” See Declaration of Jennings (Dkt. No. 66-1). The Court eventually granted that motion, effectively giving Jennings an additional three months to file his response, the new deadline being March 11, 2019. Jennings failed to file a response by that date, and has not filed a response since that date.

         ANALYSIS

         Motions for Summary Judgment

         The defendants argue that Jennings' claims have been resolved in another case in which Jennings was a plaintiff and IDOC employees were defendants. See Bartlett v. Atencio No. 1:17-cv-191-CWD. In Bartlett, Jennings alleged, as he has here, that the IDOC failed to accommodate his religious beliefs, and denied him his rights to freely exercise his religion, by denying his request to provide him with non-leavened food during Passover, requiring him to go without eating for 8 days. He further claimed, as he does here, that the defendants discriminated against him because they made accommodations for different religious beliefs of other inmates.

         Jennings and his fellow plaintiffs eventually entered into a settlement agreement in Bartlett. See Partial Settlement Agreement (Dkt. No. 32-1 in Bartlett). While that Agreement required the IDOC to accommodate Jennings' religious beliefs, it did not resolve his individual damage claim. Id. at pg. 8. However, about two months later, Jennings and his fellow plaintiffs accepted an Offer of Judgment for $93, 000, of which Jennings received $12, 000. See Judgment (Dkt. No. 41 in Bartlett, supra); Statement of Facts (Dkt. No. 48 in this case) at ¶ 8.

         Claim preclusion applies when there is (1) an identity of claims; (2) a final judgment on the merits; and (3) identity or privity between the parties. Cell Therapeutics, Inc. v. Lash Grp. Inc., 586 F.3d 1204, 1212 (9th Cir. 2009). Here, there is a final judgment for $93, 000, as discussed above. With regard to privity between the defendants, Jennings sued in this case six IDOC employee defendants: Blades, Wessels, McKay, Dietz, Fricks, and Luvisi. While Jennings sued different IDOC employees in Bartlett, the settlement agreement in Bartlett included the IDOC and “all of their officers, servants, employees, and all those in active concert or participation with them.” See Partial Settlement Agreement (Dkt. No. 32-1 in Bartlett). That provision is broad enough to sweep in the IDOC employee defendants in this case under privity principles.

         Jennings has also sued an additional four defendants - Black, Wright, Solts, and Hartwig - who are employees of 3 Oaks Ministries, a non-profit corporation that provided oversight of religious activities and volunteer services at the IDOC under short term contracts with IDOC. Jennings did not sue them in Bartlett. Nevertheless, the 3 Oaks defendants were “in active concert or participation” with the IDOC defendants in providing ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.