United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN United States District Court Chief Judge.
matter is before the Court for case management. In a sealed
order dated May 2, 2016, entered in Mitchell v. Foster,
et al., Case No. 16-cv-97-MJR (Doc. 1 in the instant
case), this matter was severed from the original case. The
newly severed case was randomly assigned to the undersigned
he filed the original action, Plaintiff has been transferred
from Vandalia Correctional Center (“Vandalia”) to
Shawnee Correctional Center (“Shawnee”).
case contains the following claim, as designated in the
Count 9: First Amendment and RLUIPA claims against Defendant
Heberer for denying Plaintiff permission to pray in the
chapel with inmates of other faiths because Plaintiff is a
to the Court’s order in Plaintiff’s original case
(Doc. 1), this claim is now subject to preliminary review
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
relates to this claim against Defendant Heberer,
Plaintiff’s complaint (Doc. 2) alleges that on December
5 and 12, 2015, while Plaintiff was incarcerated at Vandalia,
Defendant Chaplain Heberer denied Plaintiff permission to
pray in the prison chapel along with inmates of other
religions (Doc. 2, pp. 20-21). Plaintiff is a Buddhist, and
Defendant Heberer told him he could not pray in the chapel
unless he became a Christian. Plaintiff asserts that this
denial of his right to commune with God in fellowship with
others is a violation of his rights. Id.
complaint seeks injunctive relief including the right to
exercise his Buddhist religion in chapel. He also seeks
compensatory and punitive damages (Doc. 2, p. 23).
Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
§ 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner
complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss any portion
of the complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks
for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from
such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
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). Frivolousness is an
objective standard that refers to a claim that “no
reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.”
Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir.
2000). 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). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross
“the line between possibility and plausibility.”
Id. at 557. 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, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (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 Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751
(7th Cir. 2011); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance
Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).
these standards, the Court finds that part of
Plaintiff’s claim survives threshold review under
invokes both the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use
and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”) in