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Roles v. Christensen

United States District Court, D. Idaho

October 29, 2019



          David C. Nye Chief U.S. District Court Judge

         The Clerk of Court conditionally filed Plaintiff's Complaint as a result of Plaintiff's status as an inmate and in forma pauperis request. The Court now reviews the Complaint to determine whether it should be summarily dismissed in whole or in part under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A. Having reviewed the record, and otherwise being fully informed, the Court enters the following Order directing Plaintiff to file an amended complaint if Plaintiff intends to proceed.

         1. Screening Requirement

         The Court must review complaints filed by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity, as well as complaints filed in forma pauperis, to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate. The Court must dismiss a complaint or any portion thereof that states a frivolous or malicious claim, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) & 1915A(b).

         2. Pleading Standard

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A complaint fails to state a claim for relief under Rule 8 if the factual assertions in the complaint, taken as true, are insufficient for the reviewing court plausibly “to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” 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.” Id. In other words, although Rule 8 “does not require detailed factual allegations, ... it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). If the facts pleaded are “merely consistent with a defendant's liability, ” or if there is an “obvious alternative explanation” that would not result in liability, the complaint has not stated a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Id. at 678, 682 (internal quotation marks omitted). All of a plaintiff's allegations must be included in the complaint itself; a court is not required to comb through a plaintiff's exhibits or other filings to determine if the complaint states a plausible claim.

         3. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff is a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction (“IDOC”), currently incarcerated at the Idaho State Correctional Center (“ISCC”). Plaintiff states that he is “in the House of Yahweh” and that he “keep[s] Kosher.” Compl., Dkt. 3 at 2. Plaintiff contends that the prison's policy of requiring inmates to eat breakfast and dinner in the chow hall-instead of allowing inmates to take those meals back to their cells to eat-violates his religious dietary restrictions.

         The prison used to allow inmates to bring their food back to their cells at all three meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, Defendants changed that policy, apparently as a result of staffing shortages, to permit that practice only during lunch. See Dkt. 3-1 at 1. For breakfast and dinner, inmates must remain in the chow hall to eat their meals. Dkt. 3 at 2.

         Plaintiff does not appear to contend that the prison food itself is non-Kosher or otherwise made in a way that violates Plaintiff's religious dietary restrictions. Rather, he claims that eating in the chow hall contaminates the food, and it thereby becomes non-kosher. The Complaint does not explain how this contamination happens, but Plaintiff's grievance on the issue does. Plaintiff grieved the problem as follows:

You deny me my 1st Amendment Right to my Kosher Religious mail. you force me to eat in the chow hall on an unclean table, where Kosher food cant Remain Kosher. I Touch an unclean Table, The spork becomes unclean, Spork touches Kosher food; food becomes unclean. Pork, meat and milk together on all these Tables, unclean, and can't be made clean.

Dkt. 3-1 at 1 (verbatim).

         Plaintiff appealed the denial of his grievance and explained further:

Kitchen dinning room Tables are un-clean, with pork, non-kosher meats, milk, cheese, chicken and more. Tables can never be servisable for kosher kitchen, Kosher food can't be prepared and cook in Non-Kosher Kitchen, Kosher food can't be served and eaten on unclean Tables. if I touch an ...

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