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Brent Adler v. Fernando Gonzalez

April 20, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael J. Seng United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff Brent Adler ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in and forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. (ECF No. 5.)

Plaintiff initiated this action on November 17, 2011. Plaintiff's Complaint is now before the Court for screening. (Compl., ECF No. 1.) No other parties have appeared.


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, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic 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.'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 1949-50.


Plaintiff, currently housed at Centinela State Prison, was at California Correctional Institution ("CCI") at Tehachapi, California, when and where all of the events alleged in his Complaint occurred. Plaintiff is. (ECF No. 6.) Plaintiff brings claims for violation of his rights under the First Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Religious and Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA").*fn1 He brings this action against the following individuals: 1) F. Gonzalez, warden at CCI from November 2008 to December 2010, 2) M. Stainer, acting warden as of January 2011, 3) D. Zanchi, captain on Facility IV-A from 2008 to June 2009, 4) M. Bryant, captain of Facility IV-A from July 2009 to June 2010, 5) J. Lundy, current captain of Facility IV-A, 6) C. Schuyler, Facility IV-A lieutenant, 7) K. Holland, chief deputy warden, 8) M. Carrasco, associate warden and later associate warden of business services, 9) J. Negrete, associate warden in 2009, 10) T. Steadman, associate warden from 2010 to the present, 11) C. Holmstrom, appeals examiner of CDCR in 2010, and 12) John Does # 1-10, which includes correctional supervisors, officers, and state employees employed by CDCR.

Plaintiff's Complaint presents an extensive list of alleged restrictions placed on his ability to practice his Catholic religion. Other than referring to various orders and requests, he does not clearly nor succinctly outline facts showing what particular orders or actions by what particularly identifiable Defendants violated which particular rights. Therefore, the Complaint will be dismissed. However, Plaintiff will be given leave to amend. If he elects to amend, he should, as regards to each allegedly violated religious right, set forth briefly in simple language: who violated that right, how he or she violated that right, what reason was given for violating the right, when the rights were violated; and how Plaintiff was injured as a result. These allegations must include true facts, not speculation or opinion, satisfying all of the legal elements for his claims identified below.

Plaintiff's allegations include the following:

Plaintiff is Catholic. (Compl. at 3.) Plaintiff was incarcerated at CCI and transferred from Facility IV-B to IV-A on November 5, 2008. (Id. at 3-4.) He was placed in Administrative Segregation ("Ad-Seg") due to lack of space. (Id. at 4.) Pursuant to CCI's operations manual, spiritual leaders are supposed to visit Ad-Seg inmates who request visits. (Id.) At various points in fall of 2008, and 2009 Plaintiff asked to attend chapel services and requested a Bible. (Id. at 4-7.) No one responded to any of these requests. (Id.) On December 5, 2008, Plaintiff was released from Ad-Seg. (Id. at 5.)

Facility IV-A's general population was placed on modified programs many times pursuant to orders ("PSRs") issued by Lieutenant Bartelmie, Defendant Zanchi, Defendant Bryant, or Defendant Steadman and approved by Defendants Stainer, Gonzalez, or Holland. (Compl. 5-15). The PSRs were issued for a variety of reasons, such as concerns about potential attacks on prison staff or gang violence. (Id.) Most or all of these PSRs resulted in inmates being restricted to "in-cell" religious services, even though Plaintiff and others of his race were not responsible for the events leading to the PSRs. (Id.) Some PSRs also restricted inmates' library use, thereby preventing Plaintiff from obtaining a Bible. (Id. at 6.) PSRs were issued on various dates from December 2008 to January 13, 2011. (Id. at 5-16.)*fn2

From June 2009 to December 2009, there was no chapel service on Facility IV-A, and religious services were only twice held on the yard.*fn3 (Compl. at 8-9). Plaintiff was unable to attend these services. (Id.) Defendants Schuyler, Bryant, and Does # 4-5 were responsible for programing and were aware that the chapel was not being properly run. (Id. at 9.) Defendants Gonzales, Holland, Carrasco, Negrete, Zanchi, and Bryant could have remedied the violations. (Id.)

While in Facility IV-A, Plaintiff only talked to the chaplain a few times and attended services once. (Compl. at 12-14.) The chaplain talked to Plaintiff on April 8, 2010. (Id. at 12.) The chaplain made brief tours of the facility on three days between April and July of 2010. (Id. 12-14.) Plaintiff had chapel access on July 8, 2010. (Id. at 14.)

In December 2008, due to a PSR, the library was only open for inmates with legal deadlines, which meant Plaintiff could not ask the library for a Bible. (Compl. at 6.) Plaintiff was able to receive a Bible in January 2009 after he was allowed to access the library for a legal deadline. (Id. at 7.) However, Plaintiff was out of the institution to attend court from May 19 to June 17, 2009. (Id. at 7.) When Plaintiff returned from court, he did not have his property and he asked for a Bible. (Id.) This request was ignored, and Plaintiff was only given a Bible thirty-five days later when his property was returned. (Id.)

Appeals protesting how religious needs were not met were reviewed by Defendants Zanchi, Carrasco, Holland, Gonzalez, and Does # 1-3. (Id. at 5.) These Facility IV-A correctional supervisors refused to remedy the problems. (Id.)

On December 13, 2009, Plaintiff submitted an appeal in connection with his inability to attend religious services. (Id. at 8.) His appeal was partially granted, but Defendants Bryant and Holland, the reviewers, mistakenly said that ...

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