The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kendall J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Plaintiff Karluk Mayweathers is a state prisoner, incarcerated at California State Prison-Solano ("CSP-Solano"), who proceeds without counsel and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action. Presently pending for decision by this court is defendants' motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 30.)
This action proceeds on plaintiff's Amended Complaint ("AC" or "complaint") filed December 22, 2009 (Dkt. No. 8), against the following defendants: CSP-Solano Warden Gary Swarthout, CSP-Solano Muslim Chaplain Abdul Nasir, and CSP-Solano Jewish Chaplain Leah Sudran. Plaintiff, a Muslim, alleges that defendants improperly denied his request for a Halal diet or to be provided a Kosher diet pending implementation of the Halal diet program.
Plaintiff alleges in the operative complaint (referring to himself in the third person) that, "as an orthodox Muslim, of the SHAFI school of thought . . . [plaintiff] must consume ritually-slaughtered meat to feel complete in his spirituality, as clear commandments guide him in this subject and he has suffered bodily harm in the past for adopting the prison 'vegetarian option.'" (Dkt. No. 8 at 3 (original emphasis).) Based on the initial screening of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, this court found that it appeared to state potentially cognizable claims pursuant to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 ("RLUIPA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc-1, et seq. (thus also implicating plaintiff's First Amendment right to freely exercise his religion), and plaintiff's right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. (Dkt. No. 12 at 2-3.) Plaintiff seeks the following relief (Dkt. No. 8 at 3) (original emphasis):
(1) Provide KOSHER meals to Plaintiff until prison is able to provide Halal meats, immediately and without fail;
(2) Declaratory relief, in that the CDCR violated RLUIPA 2000 by depriving Plaintiff of Halal meats or KOSHER meals in the interim;
(3) Declaratory relief in that the CDCR violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution in intentionally denying Plaintiff Halal meats or the alternative of KOSHER meals in the interim;
(4) Costs of this lawsuit, $5,000 Punitive and $5,000
Compensatory Damages for the willful deprivation of RLUIPA 2000 and 14th Amendment.
Defendants move for summary judgment or, alternatively, summary adjudication of claims. (Dkt. No. 30.) Plaintiff filed an opposition (Dkt. No. 31); defendants filed a reply (Dkt. No. 32); plaintiff filed a response (Dkt. No. 33).*fn1
For the reasons set forth below, this court recommends that defendants' motion for summary judgment be denied.
II. Legal Standards for Summary Judgment
Summary judgment is appropriate when it is demonstrated that the standard set forth in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) is met. "The judgment sought should be rendered if . . . there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and . . . the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).
Under summary judgment practice, the moving party always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any," which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). "[W]here the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue, a summary judgment motion may properly be made in reliance solely on the 'pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file.'" Id. Indeed, summary judgment should be entered, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. See id. at 322. "[A] complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Id. at 323. In such a circumstance, summary judgment should be granted, "so long as whatever is before the district court demonstrates that the standard for entry of summary judgment, as set forth in Rule 56(c), is satisfied." Id.
If the moving party meets its initial responsibility, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue as to any material fact actually does exist. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). In attempting to establish the existence of this factual dispute, the opposing party may not rely upon the allegations or denials of its pleadings but is required to tender evidence of specific facts in the form of affidavits, and/or admissible discovery material, in support of its contention that the dispute exists. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586 n.11. The opposing party must demonstrate that the fact in contention is material, i.e., a fact that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pacific Elec. Contractors Ass'n , 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987), and that the dispute is genuine, i.e., the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party, see Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; T.W. Elec. Serv., 809 F.2d at 631.
In the endeavor to establish the existence of a factual dispute, the opposing party need not establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor. It is sufficient that "the claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial." T.W. Elec. Serv., 809 F.2d at 630. Thus, the "purpose of summary judgment is to 'pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial.'" Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e) Advisory Committee's note on 1963 amendments).
In resolving the summary judgment motion, the court examines the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The evidence of the opposing party is to be believed. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. All reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the facts placed before the court must be drawn in favor of the opposing party. See Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. Nevertheless, inferences are not drawn out of the air, and it is the opposing party's obligation to produce a factual predicate from which the inference may be drawn. See Richards v. Nielsen Freight Lines, 602 F. Supp. 1224, 1244-45 (E.D. Cal. 1985), aff'd, 810 F.2d 898, 902 (9th Cir. 1987). Finally, to demonstrate a genuine issue, the opposing party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts . . . Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586 (citation omitted).
On March 12, 2010, the court advised plaintiff of the requirements for opposing a motion pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Dkt. No. 16.) See Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc), cert. denied, 527 U.S. 1035 (1999), and Klingele v. Eikenberry, 849 F.2d 409 (9th Cir. 1988).
The following facts are either undisputed by the parties or, following the court's review of the evidence, have been deemed undisputed.*fn2
1. Plaintiff is a prisoner within the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"), presently incarcerated at CSP-Solano.
2. When plaintiff entered the custody of CDCR in 1986, he was a practitioner of the Bahai ...