The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Barry Ted Moskowitz United States District Judge
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS [ECF No. 169]
Dennis Grimes ("Plaintiff"), a California state prisoner currently incarcerated at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility located in Tutwiler, Mississippi, is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with a Complaint filed pursuant to the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
On September 5, 2007, the Court granted in part and denied in part Defendants' Motion to Dismiss pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 12(b)(6). Specifically, the Court: (1) dismissed Plaintiff's claims for monetary damages against Defendants in their official capacities as barred by the Eleventh Amendment; (2) denied Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for failing to allege personal acts or omissions; (3) denied Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's equal protection claims; (4) denied Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims; and (5) denied Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint on qualified immunity grounds. See Sept. 5, 2007 Order at 14-15.
Defendants filed their Answer [ECF No. 63] and moved for summary judgment on the grounds that: (1) no genuine issues of material facts exist to show that Defendants violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights; (2) Defendants did not substantially burden Plaintiff's religious beliefs in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1 et. seq; (3) Plaintiff's claims for declaratory and injunctive relief are moot; and (4) Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity.
On March 12, 2009, this Court granted in part and denied in part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. See Mar. 12, 2009 Order at 21. Defendants appealed the Court's Order denying Defendants' claim for qualified immunity to the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit. On July 14, 2010, the Ninth Circuit affirmed in part the Court's March 12, 2009 Order and remanded the issue of whether Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity on Plaintiff's First Amendment claim. This Court issued an Order directing the Defendants to file supplemental briefing regarding this issue. On September 6, 2011, this Court denied Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment as to Plaintiff's First Amendment claims.
Currently pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings relating solely to Plaintiff's claims for money damages under RLUIPA [ECF No. 169]. The Court issued a briefing schedule but Plaintiff has failed to file an Opposition.
II. MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS FED.R.CIV.P.12(c)
Defendants move for judgment on the pleadings on the ground Plaintiff cannot seek money damages against the Defendants in their individual capacities under RLUIPA. (Defs. Ps & As in Supp. of Mtn for Judg. on the Pleadings at 1.)
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides: "[a]fter the pleadings are closed - but early enough not to delay trial - a party may move for judgment on the pleadings." FED.R.CVI.P. 12(c). Judgment on the pleadings is proper when the moving party clearly establishes on the face of the pleadings that no material issue of fact remains to be resolved. Id.; Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner and Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1550 (9th Cir. 1990).
"A judgment on the pleadings is properly granted when, taking all the allegations in the pleading as true, the moving parties are entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Smith v. National Steel & Shipbuilding Co., 125 F.3d 751, 753 (9th Cir. 1997); George v. Pacific-CSC Work Furlough, 91 F.3d 1227, 1229 (9th Cir. 1996) (citing Yanez v. United States, 63 F.3d 870, 872 (9th Cir. 1995)).
B. Money Damages under RLUIPA
Defendants move for judgment on the pleadings on the ground that Plaintiff cannot obtain money damages against the Defendants in their individual capacities because "RLUIPA's statutory language only allows for a private cause of action against officials for ...