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Collins v. Sisto

September 8, 2009

CHARLES COLLINS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
D.K. SISTO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS

Plaintiff, a Muslim, is a California prisoner proceeding pro se with an action for violation of his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a).*fn1 He has brought the action against certain California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) officials; it is proceeding on plaintiff's claims that Defendants Pfandler, Nasir, Brumfield and Stiles failed to provide kosher meals conforming to plaintiff's Muslim beliefs. Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Plaintiff has filed an opposition, and defendants a reply.

I. Plaintiff's Claims

Plaintiff argues that refusing to provide kosher meals to Muslim inmates is a violation of RLUIPA and a violation of plaintiff's rights under the First, Fifth, Ninth, Tenth and Fourteenth Amendments. The court considers plaintiff's RLUIPA, First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection claims as to all defendants, and his Fourteenth Amendment Procedural Due Process claim as to defendants Brumfield and Stiles only. Compl. at 1-13; Order filed May 23, 2008 (Docket No. 4).

While plaintiff alleges that defendants violated his Fifth Amendment due process rights, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is more appropriately applied to state actors. Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 687 (9th Cir. 2001). Because defendants are all prison officials employed by the State of California, plaintiff's procedural due process claim is more appropriately analyzed as part of his existing Fourteenth Amendment claim. Compl. ¶ 26.*fn2

II. Factual Background

In his complaint, plaintiff asserts that CDCR officials refuse to provide kosher meals for inmates of Muslim faith. Plaintiff states that his religious beliefs prohibit a purely vegetarian diet and require a diet of Halal meat prepared "consistent with the methodology approved of by Allah in His Qur'an.". Compl., Ex. B.

From October 3, 2006, through January 25, 2007,*fn3 plaintiff states he applied for and was granted a kosher Muslim diet card in accordance with Title 15 of the California Code of Regulations, Section 3054.3. Compl. ¶¶ 5-6, Exs. A, B & C. Plaintiff asserts that he presented his Muslim diet card on or about January 26, 2007, to defendant Pfandler, the culinary supervisor, who advised plaintiff to return the following day to receive a kosher Muslim meal. Id. ¶ 7. Plaintiff states that on or about January 27, 2007, and January 28, 2007, defendant Pfandler, under orders from defendant Nasir, a Muslim Chaplain at the prison, refused to serve plaintiff a kosher Muslim meal when requested. Id. ¶ 9.

Plaintiff alleges that defendant Brumfield, an appeals examiner and associate warden, denied plaintiff's 602 appeal on or about March 30, 2007, because "[t]here (were) no specific provisions" for kosher Muslim meals at California State Prison, Solano. Id. at 2-3, ¶ 11 & Ex. D.

Plaintiff contends that on or about June 3, 2007, defendant Stiles, an appeals examiner and the acting warden, denied plaintiff's appeal for a kosher Muslim diet plan, stating that plaintiff should instead apply for the vegetarian diet plan. Id. at 2-3, ¶ 12.

As noted, plaintiff asserts that defendants' actions violated RLUIPA and plaintiff's rights arising under the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief.

III. Defendants' Motion

Defendants move for dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), asserting that plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim upon which this court can grant relief.

Defendants argue they are exempt from civil suit under the doctrine of qualified immunity. Defendants Brumfield and Stiles argue they were only involved in this matter as prisoner appeals personnel and are insulated against plaintiff's civil suit ...


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