The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge
I. Introduction, Procedural History and Background
Pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to strike (Doc. 19). Plaintiff filed a response (Doc. 24). Based on the following, the Court DENIES the motion.
Plaintiff, an inmate in the Menard Correctional Center, filed his complaint in this action on February 12, 2008, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his constitutional rights. Both counts of the complaint survived the Court's threshold review: Count 1 against Defendants Gulash, Hertz, Lakin, Hollenbeck, Unfried, Fritschle, and Yelm for failing to accommodate his religious observance of Ramadan; and Count 2 against Defendants Unfried, Gulash, Hertz, Lakin, Hollenbeck, Major, Lavendar, Fritschle, Blankenship, and Yelm for denial of dental treatment (Doc. 8).
On April 2, 2009, Defendants Unfried, Hertz, Blankenship, Hollenbeck, Gulash, Major, Lavendar, Lakin, Madison County Sheriff's Department, and the County of Madison, Illinois, filed a motion strike Count 1 from the complaint (Doc. 19), arguing that Plaintiff raised the same claim in a previously-filed action, Brown v. Hertz, Case No. 07-cv-117-GPM-PMF (S.D. Illinois, filed February 12, 2007). In response, Plaintiff argues that the claims are different. In Brown v. Hertz, he raised a claim of unconstitutional retaliation for filing a prior lawsuit, and here he raises a substantive claim of denial of his right to practice his religion (Doc. 24). Defendants filed a reply (Doc. 32).
In February 2007, Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court claiming that employees of the Madison County Jail had retaliated against him, in violation of his First Amendment rights, due to a previously-filed lawsuit against jail officials, Brown v. Madison County, Case No. 04-cv-824-MJR (S.D. Ill., filed Oct. 1, 2004). Plaintiff's recitation of the facts in the complaint begins with the heading, "Count One: Retaliation" (Doc. 1, p. 7). The subsequent paragraphs detail the alleged acts of retaliation, which include, mishandling of mail, intentionally slamming doors outside of his cell while he was sleeping, denying meals, tampering with medications, cutting off water to his cell, refusing to provide adequate cooling in the summer and heating in the winter, and denying him his right to fast during Ramadan (Doc. 1, pp. 7-10). Plaintiff states:
Defendants Besson, Fritschle, Hertz, Gulash, Gilbert, Fischer, and Lakin denied Plaintiff his right to fast for Ramadan by either claiming fasting is a privilege not a right or by stating jail and D.O.C. records show Plaintiff as being Christian, which is not true, after all Plaintiff is receiving a pork free diet due to being a Muslim, which is well documented.
Plaintiff has been directly informed by Defendants Gulash and Hollenbeck that he should never have filed his civil complaint. That things could have been different.
These actions are cruel and malicious and combined are designed to harass and torment the Plaintiff due to him seeking redress through the courts for past constitutional violations orchestrated and performed by said Defendants. (Doc. 1, p. 10). In its threshold review, the Court construed Plaintiff's complaint to state one claim for retaliation for filing the 2004 lawsuit (Doc. 11).
In February 2008, Plaintiff filed his complaint in this action, alleging that officials at the Madison County Jail refused to make accommodations to allow him to observe the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in September 2007, and refused to provide him with proper dental care. The heading introducing the first claim reads, "Claim 1. Freedom to Practice Religion; Due Process" (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff then describes that he complained about not receiving any accomodations during Ramadan in 2006. As a result, Defendants Fritschle and Yelm, from the Illinois Office of Jail Standards, investigated his claims and promised him that he would receive accommodations for Ramadan in September 2007. Thus, prior to September 2007, Plaintiff asked to have his medication delivered to him after sunset, his breakfast served before dawn, and dinner served after dusk, so that he could observe a daytime fast. These requests were denied. Plaintiff claims that the denial of the requested accommodations violated his
First Amendment right to exercise his religion and his rights under the Due Process Clause (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9). He states:
Defendants Unfried, Hertz, Hollenbeck, Gulash, Lakin, Fritschle, and Yelm are liable in their individual and/or official capacities violated Plaintiffs rights to religious exercise by hindering his observance of the fast of Ramadan. Further, the violation of Plaintiff's right was done maliciously out of the Defendants' disdain for the Plaintiff. This as well is a violation of Plaintiff's due process rights. These violations was and is a policy and custom of the Madison County Jail and the Office of Jail Standards Unit. ...