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Young v. Smalls

July 19, 2010

HOWARD YOUNG, CDCR #F-44590, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LARRY SMALLS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Dana M. Sabraw United States District Judge

ORDER DISMISSING THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR FAILING TO STATE A CLAIM PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(20 & 1915A(b)

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On November 10, 2009, Howard Young ("Plaintiff"), a state prisoner currently incarcerated at Kern Valley State Prison located in Delano, California, and proceeding in pro se, filed a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court issued an Order on January 19, 2010 dismissing Plaintiff's Complaint for failing to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) & 1915A(b). The Plaintiff was notified of the deficiencies of pleading and provided an opportunity to file a First Amended Complaint. However, on that same day, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint [Doc. No. 12].

Because Plaintiff could not have received the Court's Order in time to correct the problems the Court identified in his previous pleading, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint and gave him leave to file a Second Amended Complaint. On April 5, 2010, Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") [Doc. No. 21]. The Court, once again, dismissed Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint and gave him an opportunity to file a Third Amended Complaint. On June 24, 2010, Plaintiff filed his Third Amended Complaint ("TAC").

II. SCREENING PURSUANT TO 28U.S.C.§§1915(e)(2)&1915A(b)

As the Court stated in its previous Orders, the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") obligates the Court to review complaints filed by all persons proceeding IFP and by those, like Plaintiff, who are "incarcerated or detained in any facility [and] accused of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms or conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary program," "as soon as practicable after docketing." See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). Under these provisions of the PLRA, the Court must sua sponte dismiss complaints, or any portions thereof, which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim, or which seek damages from defendants who are immune. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A; Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (§ 1915(e)(2)); Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 446 (9th Cir. 2000) (§ 1915A); see also Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998) (discussing § 1915A).

"[W]hen determining whether a complaint states a claim, a court must accept as true all allegations of material fact and must construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Resnick, 213 F.3d at 447; Barren, 152 F.3d at 1194 (noting that § 1915(e)(2) "parallels the language of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)"). In addition, the Court's duty to liberally construe a pro se's pleadings, see Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dept., 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988), is "particularly important in civil rights cases." Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1261 (9th Cir. 1992). However, in giving liberal interpretation to a pro se civil rights complaint, the court may not "supply essential elements of claims that were not initially pled." Ivey v. Board of Regents of the University of Alaska, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). "Vague and conclusory allegations of official participation in civil rights violations are not sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss." Id.

A. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Liability

Section 1983 imposes two essential proof requirements upon a claimant: (1) that a person acting under color of state law committed the conduct at issue, and (2) that the conduct deprived the claimant of some right, privilege, or immunity protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Nelson v. Campbell, 541 U.S. 637, 124 S.Ct. 2117, 2122 (2004); Haygood v. Younger, 769 F.2d 1350, 1354 (9th Cir. 1985) (en banc).

1. First Amendment and RLUIPA Claims

In this Third Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that his First Amendment rights and rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA") have been violated because prison officials refuse to provide him with a kosher diet. (See TAC at 5.) Plaintiff claims that instead he has been provided with a "religious vegetarian diet" which is unsanitary and fails to provide him with adequate nutrition. (Id.)

As to either Plaintiff's First Amendment or RLUIPA claims, he fails to allege facts sufficient to state a claim. "The right to exercise religious practices and beliefs does not terminate at the prison door." McElyea v. Babbitt, 833 F.2d 196, 197 (9th Cir. 1987) (per curiam). In order to implicate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, the Plaintiff must show that their belief is "sincerely held" and "rooted in religious belief." See Shakur v. Schiro, 514 F.3d 878, 884 (citing Malik v. Brown, 16 F.3d 330, 333 (9th Cir. 1994).

In addition to First Amendment protections, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1 et. seq., provides:

No government shall impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person residing in or confined to an institution . . . even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the government demonstrates that imposition of the burden on that person -- [ΒΆ] (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and ...


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