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Gregorio Funtanilla, Jr v. Roman W. Williams

October 31, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge


Screening Order

I. Background

Plaintiff Gregorio Funtanilla, Jr. ("Plaintiff") is a prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"). Plaintiff is proceeding pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. On April 25, 2011, the Court screened Plaintiff's complaint and dismissed it with leave to amend. Doc. 16. On June 2, 2011, Plaintiff filed his first amended complaint. Doc. 18.

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious," that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id.

II. Summary Of First Amended Complaint

Plaintiff is incarcerated at California Substance Abuse and Treatment Facility ("SATF") in Corcoran, California, where the events at issue in this action occurred. Plaintiff name as Defendants: Roman W. Williams and Jesuit S. Manson, correctional officers; K. Turner and D. Ibarra, correctional sergeants; O. A. Ybarra and M. A. Baires, correctional lieutenants; J. Lias, correctional captain; R. Gomez, inmate appeals coordinator; Nola Grannis, Chief of Inmate Appeals Office for CDCR; Angela Romanello, community resource manager; Kelly Santoro, associate warden; and Derral G. Adams and Ken Clark, wardens at SATF.

Plaintiff alleges the following. Plaintiff is a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. First Am. Compl. 6. Plaintiff believes that the Sabbath begins each Friday at sundown and ends Saturday at sundown. Id. Plaintiff also believes that he is required to post the Ten Commandments on his door, and to gather double portions of food on Friday in order to not have to go out on Saturday. Id.

Plaintiff affixed a paper with the Ten Commandments above the door of his cell. Id. at 7. On November 7, 2008, while Plaintiff was out of his cell, Defendant Williams entered and exited Plaintiff's cell. Id. Upon Plaintiff's return, Plaintiff found the paper on the ground. Id. Defendant Williams returned later that day and informed Plaintiff to not hang graffiti above the door. Id. Plaintiff informed him that he was doing so to practice his religion. Id. Defendant Williams told him that he did not care and reiterated the order. Id. Plaintiff placed the Ten Commandments back to where it was. Id. On November 9, 2008, Defendants Mason and William came to Plaintiff's cell, tore down the Ten Commandments paper, ripped it to pieces and stepped on it. Id. Defendants did this two other times. Id. Plaintiff explained his need to write and post the Ten Commandments above the door in his cell to Defendants Lias, Gomez, and Clark, and requested the reasonable accommodation to practice his religious. Id. Each of the Defendants denied Plaintiff's requests, citing security needs. Id.

During November 2008, Defendant Turner denied Plaintiff's request to place the Ten Commandments above his door repeatedly. Id. at 8. Plaintiff was seeking permission only to place the Ten Commandments above his door, not on the door or the cell door window. Id. Plaintiff explained to Defendants that it was part of his religious beliefs to display it. Id. Defendant Turner denied Plaintiff's request, stating that Plaintiff is not allowed to obstruct the door or window due to safety and security reasons. Id.

Plaintiff requested permission from Defendant Grannis, but permission was denied on April 2009. Id. Plaintiff explained that he needed to post the Ten Commandments above his door or on the doorposts for religious reasons. Id. Defendant Grannis denied Plaintiff's request on the same grounds found by Defendant Turner. Id.

On June 23, 2010, Defendant Santoro entered Plaintiff's cell, saw the Ten Commandments posted and ordered it taken down. Id. at 9. Plaintiff requested Defendant Santoro to grant him permission for displaying it as a reasonable religious accommodation. Id. Defendant Santoro refused. Id. This occurred again on July 21, 2010 and April 11, 2011. Id.

On August 17, 2010, Plaintiff requested permission from Defendant Ibarra to place his display as a necessary tenant of for his religion. Id. at 10. Defendant Ibarra removed Plaintiff's television for sixty days. Id. Defendant Ibarra also goes into Plaintiff's cell and removes the display of the Ten Commandments. Id.

Plaintiff believes that based on his faith it is wrong to exit his cell on the Sabbath for the purposes of going to the prison kitchen to get his breakfast, eat it, and then pick up a lunch bag for lunch. Id. at 11. Plaintiff also believes it is wrong to receive service from kitchen workers, cooks, and correctional officers on the Sabbath. Id. Plaintiff thus made two requests: whenever possible, he be issued his lunch bag on Friday evenings, and that an inmate kitchen worker bring his portion of food to Plaintiff's cell on Sabbath. Id. Defendant Romanello denied the requests, interpreting Plaintiff's religious scriptures and finding that walking to the kitchen is not working and that food would spoil. Id. Defendant R. Gomez concurred. Id. Defendant Clark informed Plaintiff that his meals would not be taken to ...

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