United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PILL GILBERT, District Judge
Frank Thomas, who is currently detained at Madison County
Jail (“Jail”) in Edwardsville, Illinois, brings
this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against Sheriff Lakin. Plaintiff claims
that the sheriff interfered with the free exercise of his
religion by denying Plaintiff's request for a copy of the
Qur'an, a prayer mat, religious worship services, and a
religious diet on August 27, 2015 (Doc. 2, p. 2; Doc.
2-1, pp. 1-3). According to the Complaint, the Jail makes
religious materials and worship services available to
Christians (Doc. 2-1, pp. 1-3). However, Sheriff Lakin has
implemented no comparable policy for Muslims. In connection
with this claim, Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and
injunctive relief (id.).
claim was severed from Plaintiff's original Complaint
pursuant to a Memorandum and Order dated August 9, 2016.
See Thomas v. Splittorff, No. 15-cv-0988-NJR (S.D.
Ill. 2015) (“original case”) (“Count 6,
” original case). “Count 6” is the only
claim at issue in this severed case. It is now subject to
preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under
§ 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen
prisoner complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to 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).
“Count 6, ” which is renumbered to “Count
1” below, survives preliminary review under this
Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
facilitate the orderly management of future proceedings in
this case, and in accordance with the objectives of Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure 8(e) and 10(b), the Court deems it
appropriate to reorganize the severed claim into the
COUNT 1: Sheriff Lakin denied Plaintiff's request for a
Qur'an, prayer rug, religious worship services, and a
religious diet on August 27, 2015, in violation of the Free
Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and the Religious Land
Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (42 U.S.C. §
2000cc-1(a)) (Count 6, original case).
a complaint that a jail official infringed on an inmate's
religious rights includes a claim under the First Amendment
Free Exercise Clause and a claim under the Religious Land Use
and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”). The
First Amendment prohibits prison officials from imposing a
substantial burden on the free exercise of religion unless
the burden is reasonably related to a legitimate penological
interest. Kaufman v. Pugh, 733 F.3d 692, 696 (7th
Cir. 2013). RLUIPA offers broader protections than the First
Amendment by prohibiting substantial burdens on “any
exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central
to, a system of religious belief.” Grayson v.
Schuler, 666 F.3d 450, 451 (7th Cir. 2012); 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000cc-5(7)(A). RLUIPA applies to state and local
governments and to those acting under color of state law.
See 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-5(4).
may proceed with his individual and official capacity claims
against Sheriff Lakin under the First Amendment. The
allegations in the Complaint suggest that the sheriff may
have interfered with Plaintiff's ability to freely
exercise his religion by denying his request for a
Qur'an, prayer rug, worship services, and religious diet
on August 27, 2015. In addition, the sheriff allegedly failed
to implement a policy generally authorizing access to these
religious items for Muslim inmates. The First Amendment claim
against Sheriff Lakin, in his individual and official
capacity, is thus subject to further review.
shall also be allowed to proceed with his official capacity
claim for injunctive relief against Sheriff Lakin under
RLUIPA. However, his individual capacity claim against this
defendant shall be dismissed. RLUIPA “does not create a
cause of action against state employees in their personal
capacity, ” thus barring the individual capacity claim
for money damages against Sheriff Lakin. Id. (citing
Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 886-89 (7th Cir.
2009)). That portion of Count 1 encompassing the individual
capacity claim for money damages under RLUIPA shall be
dismissed with prejudice; all other portions of this claim
shall proceed against Sheriff Lakin.
HEREBY ORDERED that the individual capacity claim against
Defendant LAKIN for monetary damages under RLUIPA in COUNT 1
is DISMISSED with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted.
FURTHER ORDERED that COUNT 1 is otherwise subject to further
review against Defendant LAKIN. This includes the official
capacity claim against this defendant under RLUIPA, as well
as the individual and official capacity claims against
Defendant Lakin under the First Amendment.
ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall prepare for Defendant
LAKIN: (1) Form 5 (Notice of a Lawsuit and
Request to Waive Service of a Summons), and (2) Form 6
(Waiver of Service of Summons). The Clerk is
DIRECTED to mail these forms, a copy of the
Memorandum and Order dated August 9, 2016 (Doc. 1), the
Complaint (Doc. 2), and this Memorandum and Order to
Defendant's place of employment as identified by
Plaintiff. If Defendant fails to sign and return the Waiver
of Service of Summons (Form 6) to the Clerk within 30 days
from the date the forms were sent, the Clerk shall take
appropriate steps to effect formal service on Defendant, and
the Court will require Defendant to pay the full costs of
formal service, to the extent authorized by the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure.
Defendant cannot be found at the address provided by
Plaintiff, the employer shall furnish the Clerk with the
Defendant's current work address, or, if not known, the
Defendant's last-known address. This information shall be
used only for sending the forms as directed above or for
formally effecting service. Any documentation of the address
shall be retained only ...