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Lorenzo Hall, #B-64594 v. Chaplain Sutton

February 8, 2012


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


Plaintiff Lorenzo Hall, an inmate in Pinckneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville"), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc et seq.. Plaintiff is serving a 22 year sentence for attempted murder. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(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). Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts "should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements." Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court concludes that Plaintiff's claims are not subject to dismissal at this time pursuant to § 1915A.

The Complaint

Plaintiff is a Muslim who was listed on Pinckneyville's inmate Ramadan participation list in 2010. On the first day of Ramadan, August 10, 2010, Plaintiff received his breakfast meal before sunrise and his dinner meal after sunset in accordance with Islamic tenets (Doc. 1, p. 5). However, Plaintiff alleges that those two meals combined consisted of approximately 1000 calories, instead of the 2800 calories general population prisoners are provided according to Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") policy. Plaintiff spoke to his housing lieutenant that night and explained that his meals were of inadequate nutritious value and caloric content. The lieutenant advised Plaintiff that there was nothing he could do and instructed Plaintiff to file a grievance if he had a problem with the institution's policy.

The next day, August 11, 2010, Plaintiff filed a formal written grievance complaining of the inadequate nutritional content of his meals and requested a bag lunch along with his breakfast or dinner meal to make up the approximate 1800 calories that was missing (Doc. 1, p. 6).*fn1 About two weeks later, Plaintiff's grievance was returned by the counselor with the response, "Per dietary manager Bryant, meals served to Ramadan participants meet dietary standards and requirements . . ." (Doc. 6, p. 1). Plaintiff's appeal to the director was subsequently denied by the Administrative Review Board (ARB) on March 30, 2011 (Doc. 6, p. 3).

On September 3, 2010, while in the chapel for Friday Jumu'ah prayer service, the Plaintiff was informed by Defendant Chaplain Sutton that the upcoming Eid-Ul-Fitr prayer and meal service would be held on September 13, 2010. When Plaintiff and other Muslims tried to explain to Defendant Sutton that the Eid-Ul-Fitr prayer must be held on the morning of the first day following the completion of Ramadan, and that the Eid-Ul-Fitr meal celebration must be held within three days of the completion of Ramadan, Defendant Sutton stated, "You're in prison, deal with it," and "I'm going to be off that day anyway so I can celebrate a real American holiday, 9/11" (Doc. 1, p. 7). That night, Plaintiff sent numerous written request slips to Warden Davis, requesting him to intervene and allow the Plaintiff and other Muslims to follow Islamic tenets.

On September 13, 2010, the Plaintiff received a call pass to attend an "Eid service" at 8:30 a.m.. This was four days after the completion of Ramadan.

Plaintiff seeks a jury trial; combined compensatory and punitive damages of $40,000 for the improper Eid-Ul-Fitr services and the denial of food; a declaratory judgment that Defendants violated his constitutional rights; and an injunction ordering the Defendants to include the necessary nutrition and calories with all Ramadan meals and ...

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