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William O. Spivey, #K-81482 v. Chaplain Love

January 12, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gilbert, District Judge:


Plaintiff, an inmate currently in the Menard Correctional Center, filed the instant action while he was housed in the Pinckneyville Correctional Center. Plaintiff brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides, in pertinent part:

(a) Screening.-- The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for Dismissal.-- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint--

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or

(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

Plaintiff's original complaint, a portion of which is reviewed below, was filed on August 31, 2010, under Case Number 10-cv-689. That complaint contained many unrelated claims brought against a number of Defendants. On March 1, 2011, this Court informed Plaintiff that it would sever the unrelated claims in his complaint into new suits unless he dismissed those claims. When Plaintiff failed to dismiss the claims, the Court severed them, which resulted in the instant action being opened before the Court on April 20, 2011 (see Doc. 1).

The Court reviewed the claims asserted in the instant action, and determined that more information was needed. On November 21, 2011, the Court ordered Plaintiff to file an amended complaint, providing the missing information the Court needed to perform a thorough review of the claims. Plaintiff filed his amended complaint on December 5, 2011 (Doc. 9), and it is this amended complaint that the Court reviews in this order.

Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds that a portion of the claims in this amended complaint are subject to dismissal.


Plaintiff was transferred to Centralia Correctional Center on March 11, 2010. Sometime between that date and May 10, 2010, Plaintiff requested that Defendant Love, the prison chaplain, change Plaintiff's religious status which had been incorrectly noted in Plaintiff's file as Protestant, when Plaintiff is in fact Jewish. This request was ignored by Defendant Love.

Plaintiff was transferred to Pinckneyville Correctional Center on June 9, 2010. Sometime between that date and February 16, 2011, Plaintiff requested that Defendant Sutton, the prison chaplain, change his religious status, which was still incorrectly noted as Protestant. This request was denied. Plaintiff also asked Defendant Sutton to change his diet to a vegetarian diet to accommodate his religion, but Defendant Sutton refused this request, saying he could not make the change until Plaintiff's religious status had been changed. Plaintiff sent requests for intervention to Defendant Scheimann, the prison rabbi, but these requests went unanswered.

Plaintiff was transferred to Menard Correctional Center on February 16, 2011. Sometime after that date, Plaintiff notified Chaplain Harner*fn1 that he still needed his religious status changed. Chaplain Harner sent Plaintiff a form to fill out. Plaintiff filled out this form, and put it in his mailbox. Defendants Cox and John Doe Second Shift Officers (SSOs) collected this form, but apparently did not give it to Chaplain Harner. Chaplain Harner later came to Plaintiff's cell and said he would "take care of" the matter of getting Plaintiff's religious status changed, but nothing was done.

Plaintiff was then moved to a new cell. In the process of the move, Defendant Livingston and Defendant Fleming confiscated Plaintiff's Tanakh (Jewish bible). This book was never returned to Plaintiff, and he believes that these Defendants destroyed it.


To facilitate the orderly management of future proceedings in this case, and in accordance with the objectives of FED. R. CIV. P. 8(e) and 10(b), the Court finds it appropriate to break the claims in Plaintiff's pro se complaint and other pleadings into numbered counts, as shown below.

The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

COUNT 1: Religion

Plaintiff makes a number of claims alleging that his right to freedom of religion has been violated. Specifically, Defendants Love, Sutton, and Scheimann inhibited his freedom to practice the religion of his choice when they refused to update his religious status after many requests. Defendant Sutton further prevented Plaintiff from freely practicing his religion when he refused to change Plaintiff's diet to vegetarian, to reflect Plaintiff's belief that the practice of his religion required this diet. And Defendants Cox and John Doe SSOs prevented Plaintiff from getting his religious status changed when they took his form for the change and did not deliver it to Chaplain Harner.

An inmate is entitled to practice his religion "insofar as doing so does not unduly burden the administration of the prison." Hunafa v. Murphy, 907 F.2d 46, 47 (7th Cir.1990). A rule impinging on that right "is valid if it is reasonably related to legitimate penological interests." Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S.78, 89 (1987). Additionally, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act provides that "[n]o government shall impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person residing in or confined to an institution, . . . even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the government demonstrates that imposition of the burden on that person (1) is ...

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