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Aresaba v. Walker

August 15, 2006

MEEKA ARESABA, PLAINTIFF
v.
RODGER WALKER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harold A. Baker United States District Judge

ORDER

Before the court is the defendant, Stephen Mote's unopposed summary judgment motion [42].

Standard

Summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P.56(c); Outlaw v. Newkirk, 259 F.3d 833, 837 (7th Cir. 2001), citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Herman v. National Broadcasting Co., Inc., 744 F.2d 604, 607 (7th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1028 (1985). In determining whether factual issues exist, the court must view all the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Beraha v. Baxter Health Corp., 956 F.2d 1436, 1440 (7th Cir. 1992). Further, this burden can be satisfied by "'showing'--that is, pointing out to the district court--that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. If such a showing is made, the burden shifts to the non-movant to "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Outlaw, 259 F.3d at 837. A nonmoving party cannot rest on its pleadings, but must demonstrate that there is admissible evidence that will support its position. Tolle v. Carroll Touch, Inc., 23 F.3d 174, 178 (7th Cir. 1994). Credibility questions "defeat summary judgment only '[w]here an issue as to a material fact cannot be resolved without observation of the demeanor of witnesses in order to evaluate their credibility.'" Outlaw, 259 F.3d at 838, citing Advisory Committee Notes, 1963 Amendment to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(other citations omitted).

Fed. Rule Civ. Pro. Rule 56(c) "mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party there is no 'genuine' issue for trial." Mechnig v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 864 F.2d 1359 (7th Cir. 1988). A "metaphysical doubt" will not suffice. Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Disputed facts are material only if they might affect the outcome of the suit. First Ind. Bank v. Baker, 957 F.2d 506, 507-08 (7th Cir. 1992). The mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, *247-248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510 (1986).

Background

The Plaintiff, Meeka Aresaba, is a prisoner in the Illinois Department of Corrections. He has brought a lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. The remaining defendants are Adella Jordan-Luster and Stephen Mote. In his amended complaint, the plaintiff alleges that Defendant Mote violated the Plaintiff's First Amendment rights and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act when he failed to ensure that Plaintiff receive a vegan diet. (Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, p. 2, 5-6, 8). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that on August 21, 2002, he was transferred to the Pontiac Correctional Center from the Menard Correctional Center. (Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, p. 5). When Plaintiff arrived at Pontiac, he talked to a chaplain who referred him to Defendant Jordan-Luster. (Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, p. 5). On September 14, 2002, Plaintiff filed a grievance concerning his lack of a vegan diet. (Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, p. 5). On April 1, 2003, Plaintiff wrote letters to Defendants Jordan-Luster and Mote concerning Plaintiff's request to be on a vegan diet. (Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, p. 5). Plaintiff, a Rastafarian at the time, claims he needed a vegan diet consisting of organic foods. (Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, p. 6). On April 2, 2003, Defendant Jordan-Luster responded to Plaintiff's April 1, 2003 letter stating that there was no dietary modification listed for the Rastafarian religion. (Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, p. 5). The Plaintiff even attempted changing his religion to African Hebrew Israelite to obtain a vegan diet, however, the request was denied since the change was being requested for other than religious reasons. (Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, p. 6).

Material Facts Claims to be Undisputed

1. On April 14, 2002, Plaintiff was written a disciplinary report at the Menard Correctional Center for disobeying a direct order, violation of rules, and trading or trafficking. (Exhibit A, Mote Affidavit, ¶ 2).

2. On April 14, 2002, it was observed that Plaintiff gave his vegan religious diet tray to another inmate which was prohibited pursuant to a Chaplain's memorandum. (Exhibit A, Mote Affidavit, ¶ 3).

3. Plaintiff had been told many times to not give his food trays away and Plaintiff let an unknown inmate eat both of his religious vegan diet trays. (Exhibit A, Mote Affidavit, ¶ 3).

4. On April 18, 2002, the Menard Correctional Center's Adjustment Committee found Plaintiff guilty of the April 14, 2002 disciplinary report and recommended discipline of one month C grade. (Exhibit A, Mote Affidavit, ¶ 4).

5. On August 21, 2002, Plaintiff transferred from Menard Correctional Center to the Pontiac Correctional Center. (Exhibit A, Mote Affidavit, ¶ 5).

6. When Plaintiff transferred to the Pontiac Correctional Center he was not on a vegan diet. (Exhibit B, Plaintiff's Deposition, p. 10, l. 9-14).

7. Plaintiff was at the Pontiac Correctional Center until January 15, 2004. (Exhibit A, Mote Affidavit, ¶ 6).

8. The Department of Corrections recognized the Plaintiff as a Rastafarian effective June 15, 2000. (Exhibit A, Mote Affidavit, ¶ 7).

9. Prior to declaring himself to be a Rastafarian in June 2000, Plaintiff's declared religious preference was African Hebrew Israelite. (Exhibit A, Mote Affidavit, ¶ 8).

10. The Department of Corrections has verified that a follower of the African Hebrew Israelite religion has a religious dietary requirement -- a vegan diet. (Exhibit A, Mote Affidavit, ¶ 9).

11. Prior to receiving a vegan diet, an inmate must make a request for the diet and provide verification that the inmate's religious beliefs require adherence to a vegan diet. (Exhibit A, Mote Affidavit, ¶ 15).

12. If the Chaplain verifies that an inmate needs a vegan diet for religious purposes, the Chaplain approves the request for a vegan diet and the inmate is placed on a vegan diet. (Exhibit A, Mote Affidavit, ¶ 16). 13. When the Plaintiff arrived at Pontiac Correctional Center, he talked to Chaplain Evan Kennel about obtaining a vegan diet. (Exhibit B, Plaintiff's Deposition, p. 10, l. 15-20).

14. Plaintiff was told that he would have to go through the Head Chaplain of Pontiac Correctional Center to obtain his vegan diet. (Exhibit B, Plaintiff's Deposition).

15. Plaintiff does not remember who the Head Chaplain was at the Pontiac Correctional Center. (Exhibit B, Plaintiff's ...


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