United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. Lee United States District Judge.
Cory Gregory has filed this lawsuit against Defendants Randy
Pfister, Hany Shalabi, George Adamson, and Walter Nicholson,
alleging violations of the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (“RLUIPA”),
42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1 et seq.; 42 U.S.C. §
1983; and the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act
(“RFRA”), 775 Ill. Comp. Stat. 35/15. Adamson,
Nicholson, and Shalabi (“Defendants”) have moved
to dismiss certain of Plaintiff's claims. For the
following reasons, Defendants' motion to dismiss  is
granted in part and denied in part.
is an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of
Corrections (“IDOC”) and a practitioner of
Odinism, a nature-based religion recognized by IDOC. Am.
Compl. ¶ 19, ECF No. 14. Odinists worship individually
and in groups, and their worship practices must take place
both indoors and outdoors. Id. ¶¶ 11-12.
What is more, Odinist worship requires an enclosure away from
the practice of any other religion, and outdoor services
require a fire pit and small evergreen shrubberies placed in
the four cardinal directions. Id. Odinists also need
a wood or stone altar, an altar cloth, a large mead horn and
bowl, mead (a mixture of honey, water, and fruit juice),
altar candles, a 24-inch wooden staff, a large Thor's
hammer, a metal or wood ring, statues or images of the Gods
and Goddesses of Odinism, an evergreen twig, a religious
medallion, a rune set in a cloth bag, a horn cup, a
bandana-like cloth, a wooden staff the size of a ruler, and a
religious book. Id. ¶ 15. In addition, Odinists
require pork to be served on six high holidays. Id.
has practiced Odinism since 2007, and has submitted at least
three requests to Adamson, the prison chaplain at Stateville
Correctional Center (“Stateville”), for
accommodations that would allow him to practice his religion.
Id. ¶ 24. Those requests were ignored.
Id. ¶¶ 23-24, 26.
also attempted to express his religious convictions by
writing letters to fellow Odinists. Id. ¶ 26.
Shalabi, an Internal Affairs Officer at Stateville,
intercepted one such letter before it could be sent to an
Odinist inmate at another prison. Id. ¶ 27.
According to Shalabi, he confiscated the letter because it
contained white supremacist drawings, and he wrote Plaintiff
a disciplinary ticket. Id. ¶ 28. Plaintiff
states that the illustrations were actually religious Odinist
drawings, not related to white supremacy. Id. ¶
of the letter, Plaintiff faced disciplinary proceedings and
was found to have violated prison policies. Id. As a
result, he received 45 days in segregation, 3 months'
demotion to C-grade status, 3 months of commissary
restrictions, and 6 months of contact-visit restrictions.
Id. ¶ 31. Plaintiff filed a grievance seeking
reduction of these restrictions and expungement of his
record, but the grievance was denied. Id. ¶ 32.
Pfister, the warden of Stateville at the time, approved the
denial of the grievance. Id. Nicholson is the
current warden. Id. ¶ 7.
states that Defendants continue to deny or limit his access
to the items and symbols necessary for Odinist worship.
Id. ¶¶ 21, 39-40. Accordingly, he filed
this action, claiming that Defendants' actions violated
RLUIPA (Count I), his rights to free exercise of religion and
free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment (Counts II
and III, respectively), and RFRA (Count IV). Defendants seek
to dismiss the first three counts.
survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a
complaint must “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “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.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Additionally, when considering motions to dismiss, the Court
accepts “all well-pleaded factual allegations as true
and view[s] them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff.” Lavalais v. Vill. of Melrose Park,
734 F.3d 629, 632 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing Luevano v.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1027 (7th Cir.
2013)). At the same time, “allegations in the form of
legal conclusions are insufficient to survive a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion.” McReynolds v. Merrill Lynch & Co.,
Inc., 694 F.3d 873, 885 (7th Cir. 2012) (citing
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). As such,
“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of the cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
first argue that, to the extent Plaintiff brings claims for
damages against them in their official capacities, such
claims are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Second,
Defendants contend, Plaintiff's RLUIPA claim (Count I)
should be dismissed as to Adamson and Shalabi, because they
are not proper parties to a claim for injunctive relief.
Finally, Defendants argue that Plaintiff's § 1983
claims (Counts II and III) should be dismissed because
Plaintiff has failed to sufficiently allege their personal
involvement in the claimed constitutional deprivations.
Claims for Monetary Damages
seek to dismiss all claims brought against them in their
official capacities that request monetary damages, arguing
that “asking for . . . money damages out of state funds
. . . is unconstitutional.” Defs.' Mem. Supp. Mot.
Dismiss at 4, ECF No. 25. In response, Plaintiff explains
that he is “suing Defendants in both their official
and individual capacit[ies].” Pl.'s Resp.
Opp. Mot. Dismiss at 7, ECF No. 33. But a plaintiff cannot