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Luis Delgado v. Chaplain Twaddell

April 18, 2012

LUIS DELGADO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHAPLAIN TWADDELL, WARDEN YOUNG, MAJOR RUIZ, LIEUTENANT KORTE, AND OFFICER MOUNTAIN, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sue E. Myerscough, U.S. District Judge:

E-FILED

Wednesday, 18 April, 2012 11:03:41 AM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and currently incarcerated in Western Illinois Correctional Center, pursues claims arising from the denial of his right to practice his religion. The case is before the Court for a merit review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

LEGAL STANDARD

The Court is required by § 1915A to review a Complaint filed by a prisoner against a governmental entity or officer and, through such process, to identify cognizable claims, dismissing any claim that is "frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." A hearing is held if necessary to assist the Court in this review, but, in this case, the Court concludes that no hearing is necessary. The Complaint and its attachments are clear enough on their own for this Court to perform its merit review of Plaintiff's Complaint.

The review standard under § 1915A is the same as the notice pleading standard under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Zimmerman v. Tribble, 226 F.3d 568, 571 (7th Cir. 2000). To state a claim, the allegations must set forth a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Factual allegations must give enough detail to give "'fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" EEOC v. Concentra Health Serv., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)(add'l citation omitted). The factual "allegations must plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a 'speculative level.'" Id., quoting Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged . . . . Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009), citing Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555-56. However, pro se pleadings are liberally construed when applying this standard. Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 546 (7th Cir. 2009).

ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff is Catholic and filled out the necessary forms to participate in bible study and Catholic services at Western Illinois Correctional Center. However, when Plaintiff tried to attend those events, he was told that he was not on the call sheet. Plaintiff wrote grievances and letters to the Chaplain to straighten out the problem, and each time the response was that the problem had been fixed. Yet, Plaintiff still has been unable to attend services, either because he is not on the call list or because services have been purportedly cancelled on the days he is scheduled. Plaintiff asserts that he has sent in relevant documents with his Complaint, but no documents are in the record.

ANALYSIS

Prisoners have a First Amendment right to reasonable opportunities to practice their religion, subject to the legitimate penological concerns of the prison. Maddox v. Love, 655 F.3d 709 (7th Cir. 2011). Plaintiff seems to be alleging that Defendants have approved in word but not in deed his participation in bible study and Catholic services. The specific circumstances of the denials and determinations of personal responsibility must await a more developed record.

Plaintiff also states a claim under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc et seq . ("RLUIPA"). Grayson v. Schuler, 666 F.3d 450 (7th Cir. 2012)(claim under RLUIPA should be inferred when a pro se prisoner asserts a burden on his right to freely exercise his religion). However, Plaintiff should be aware that only ...


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