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Hall v. Bryant

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

December 16, 2013

LORENZO HALL, #B-64594, Plaintiff,
v.
CHAPLAIN SUTTON and DIETARY MANAGER BRYANT, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the Report and Recommendation ("Report") (Doc. 60) of Magistrate Judge Philip M. Frazier recommending that the Court grant the defendants' motion for summary judgment (Doc. 53). Plaintiff Lorenzo Hall has objected to the Report (Doc. 61), and the defendants have responded to that objection.

Hall, a Muslim who was incarcerated in Pinckneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville") at all relevant times, complains in this case that in 2010 and 2011, defendant Dietary Manager Terri Bryant provided him inadequate nutrition during the month of Ramadan because he was not given a bag lunch to eat after sundown and before sunrise in addition to his regular breakfast and dinner meals. Hall claims this caused his spiritual experience during Ramadan to be diminished. He also complains that in 2010 defendant Chaplain Rick Sutton did not allow a timely celebration of the Eid-Ul-Fitr prayer service, which Hall believes must be held the morning of the first day following the completion of Ramadan, and the Eid-Ul-Fitr meal, which Hall believes must be held within three days following the completion of Ramadan. He claims this violated the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc et seq. (Count 1), and the Eighth Amendment (Count 2).

I. Report Review Standard

The Court may accept, reject or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations of the magistrate judge in a report and recommendation. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). The Court must review de novo the portions of the report to which objections are made. Id. "If no objection or only partial objection is made, the district court judge reviews those unobjected portions for clear error." Johnson v. Zema Sys. Corp., 170 F.3d 734, 739 (7th Cir. 1999).

II. The Report and Objections

Magistrate Judge Frazier found the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity on Hall's claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging First Amendment violations and that the defendants were entitled to judgment on the merits on Hall's RLUIPA claim.

Specifically, with respect to the Eid-Ul-Fitr prayer service, Magistrate Judge Frazier found it was held late in 2010. Ramadan ended on Thursday, September 9, but the service was not held until Monday, September 13. Nevertheless, he found the late service did not substantially burden Hall's religious exercise because he was still able to fast and gather with other Muslims to mark the end of Ramadan. Thus, Sutton did not violate RLUIPA.

With respect to the nutritional content of the meals Hall received during Ramadan, Magistrate Judge Frazier found no competent evidence that Hall was deprived of adequate nutrition during Ramadan in 2010 or 2011 or that Bryant was aware of and disregarded any such inadequate nutrition. He further found that receiving only two meals a day did not substantially burden Hall's religious exercise because he was still able to observe Ramadan. Thus, Bryant did not violate RLUIPA. Magistrate Judge Frazier further found that it was not clearly established that an inmate was entitled to three nutritious meals a day while participating in a fast as long as he received adequate nutrition overall. Accordingly, Magistrate Judge Frazier concluded that Bryant was entitled to qualified immunity on Hall's constitutional claims.

Hall objects (Doc. 61), arguing that 1, 000 calories per day for a thirty-day period was clearly not sufficient nutrition. He further argues that timely Eid-Ul-Fitr services are essential tenets of his Islamic faith that cannot be satisfied by a service even one day late.

III. Analysis

The Court reviews this matter de novo and finds that the Report's conclusions are correct, although believes it advisable to supplement its reasoning.

As a preliminary matter, Hall concedes the summary judgment motion as to Count 2, his Eighth Amendment claim, so only Count 1, his First Amendment and RLUIPA claims, remain in issue. Additionally, the Court notes that the only relief Hall can receive under RLUIPA is injunctive relief. Money damages are not available under RLUIPA against states or individuals in their official capacities, Vinning-El v. Sutton, 657 F.3d 591, 592 (7th Cir. 2011) (citing Sossamon v. Texas, 131 S.Ct. 1651 (2011); Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58 (1989)), or individuals in their personal capacities, Vinning-El, 657 F.3d at 592 (citing Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868 (7th Cir. 2009)). However, Hall's claims for injunctive relief are moot in light of the fact that he has been transferred from Pinckneyville to Western Illinois Correctional Center (Docs. 65 & 66). Therefore, the Court addresses only Hall's § 1983 claim alleging violation of his First Amendment rights and finds the defendants are entitled to qualified immunity.

Qualified immunity is an affirmative defense that shields government officials from liability for civil damages where their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known. Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982); Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009); Denius v. Dunlap, 209 F.3d 944, 950 (7th Cir. 2000). It protects an official from suit "when she makes a decision that, even if constitutionally deficient, reasonably misapprehends the law governing the circumstances she confronted." Brosseau v. Haugen, 543 U.S. 194, 198 (2004). The qualified immunity test has two prongs: (1) whether the facts, taken in the light most favorable to the party asserting the injury, demonstrate that the officer's conduct violated a constitutional right, and (2) whether the right at issue was clearly established at the time of the alleged misconduct. Pearson, 555 U.S. at 232; see Brosseau, 543 U.S. at 197; Wilson v. Layne, 526 U.S. 603, 609 (1999). To determine ...


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