The opinion of the court was delivered by: DANA SABRAW, District Judge
ORDER: (1) ADOPTING IN PART AND REJECTING IN PART MAGISTRATE
JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION; (2) GRANTING DEFENDANT JONES'
MOTION TO DISMISS; (3) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS.
[Doc. Nos. 6, 11]
Pending before this Court are a motion by Defendant Jones to
dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6), and another motion by the remaining state Defendants to
dismiss Plaintiff's complaint based on various legal grounds.
Plaintiff has filed an opposition to both motions. State
Defendants filed a reply to Plaintiff's opposition. The motion
was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge, pursuant to
28 U.S.C § 636(b)(1)(B) and Civ. L.R. 72.3, for a Report and
Recommendation ("R&R"). The Magistrate Judge found the issues
appropriate for decision on the papers and without oral argument
pursuant to Civ. L.R. 7.1(d)(1). On July 11, 2005, the Magistrate Judge issued her R&R. The
State Defendants filed objections to the R&R on August 5, 2005;
Plaintiff filed objections to the R&R on August 9, 2005; and
Defendant Jones filed a reply to Plaintiff's objections on August
19, 2005. Plaintiff filed a reply to Defendant Jones objections
on August 26, 2005.
Based on this Court's de novo review of the R&R, Defendants'
objections and Plaintiff's replies, the Court adopts in part and
rejects in part the Magistrate Judge's R&R.
FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL SUMMARY
Plaintiff is an inmate committed to the custody of the
California Department of Corrections ("CDC"), and the events
giving rise to the causes of action herein occurred when
Plaintiff was housed at Calipatria State Prison ("Calipatria").
Plaintiff is a follower of Islam, and in accordance with the
tenets of his faith, he does not eat pork. He alleges that in May
2002, he began to suspect that the prison was serving foods
containing pork without labeling them with a "P" on the menu as
required by prison regulations. He was referred to a prison
psychologist, who diagnosed him with depression. He was
transferred to a mental health facility, and was placed on
suicide watch, but was eventually transferred back to Calipatria.
In October 2003, the Calipatria prison cafeteria began serving
"turkey ham" for breakfast. It was not labeled with a "P" on the
menu, but Plaintiff was nonetheless suspicious that it contained
pork. Plaintiff alleges that his own investigation revealed that
the turkey ham did in fact contain pork, despite the affirmative
verbal assurances to the contrary by Defendant Vorise.
Plaintiff filed an administrative appeal complaining that his
First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion had been
infringed by the prison's failure to alert him to the presence of
pork in the cafeteria food. Plaintiff filed two additional
appeals complaining that the prison refused to let him be seen by
medical staff for the mental health problems he was experiencing
as a result.
In December 2004, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and in forma
pauperis, filed this suit alleging claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"),
42 U.S.C § 2000bb-2000bb-4. He names as Defendants the Director of the CDC,
Jeanne Woodford; the Calipatria warden, Stuart Ryan; the
Calipatria food service manager, John Mitchell; two Calipatria
cooks, Hector Lopez and M. Vorise; and Sysco's Regional Sales Manager, Stan
Jones. Plaintiff claims that he was led to consume pork by the
actions and omissions of these Defendants, in violation of his
First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion. Plaintiff
also contends that Defendant M. Levin, the chief medical officer
of Calipatria, violated his Eighth Amendment rights by ignoring
his repeated requests for mental health treatment.
On April 7, 2005, Defendant Stan Jones filed a motion to
dismiss, arguing that he is not a state actor and therefore
cannot be sued for the alleged First Amendment violations. On May
16, 2005, State Defendants Levin, Lopez, Mitchell, Ryan, Vorise
and Woodford also filed a motion to dismiss on various legal
grounds. Plaintiff opposes both motions.
As an initial matter, the Court adopts the Magistrate Judge's
recommendation and dismisses Plaintiff's RFRA claims in light of
the Supreme Court's ruling in City of Boerne v. Flores,
521 U.S. 507 (1997). See Guam v. Guerrero, 290 F.3d 1210, 1219
(9th Cir. 2002) (recognizing in light of Boerne that state
and local government actors cannot be sued for violations of
RFRA). Although none of the Defendants moved for dismissal of
this claim, the Court dismisses this claim sua sponte pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). See also Neitzke v. Williams,
490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989) (dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 proper
when claim is based on "indisputably meritless legal theory").
Because amendment of Plaintiff's RFRA claim would be futile in
light of Boerne, the Court dismisses the claim with prejudice.
B. State Defendants' Motion
State Defendants move to dismiss based on several legal
theories. Defendants claim that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies, as required by the Prison Litigation
Reform Act ("PLRA"). Defendants also move to dismiss the
First Amendment claims against them on grounds that negligence cannot
be the basis of an alleged Constitutional violation. Defendants
Ryan and Woodford move to dismiss on grounds that they were not
alleged to have been personally involved in the violation of
Plaintiff's Constitutional rights. Defendant Levin also moves ...