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Ernest Medina v. Youngblood

January 14, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jennifer L. Thurston United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Before this Court for screening is Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint.*fn1

I.Screening Requirement

The Court is required to screen any complaint filed by a prisoner seeking "redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity" in order to identify any "cognizable claim." 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a)-(b). The Court should dismiss the case if it is "frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted" or if the prisoner is "seek[ing] monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). A Court should dismiss a claim as frivolous only "when the facts alleged rise to the level of the irrational or the wholly incredible, whether or not there are judicially noticeable facts 2 available to contradict them" and not simply because the Court may believe the "plaintiff's allegations 3 unlikely." Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992). When determining whether a claim is 4 malicious, the Court will analyze whether it was made in good faith. Kinney v. Plymouth Rock Squab 5 Co., 236 U.S. 43, 46 (1915). 6

II.Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint

Plaintiff's FAC alleges that Defendants, Chaplain M. Franey, and Inmate Services, denied him 8 a religious kosher diet and that Defendant Franey denied him religious literature in violation of the 9 First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). (Doc. 5 at 35-37). He complains also that "there are no religious services for High Holy Days" though he fails to tie this failure to a named Defendant. (Doc. 5 at 17) Although Plaintiff names Sergeant M. Black of Inmate Services as a defendant, Plaintiff does not make any factual allegations directly against Defendant Black.

Plaintiff claims that he is not Jewish, but believes "in a set of Religious principles of the sect of Jews who believe in Y'shua." (Doc. 5 at 35-36). He claims he "disagrees with both Christians and Jews." (Doc. 5 at 36). Plaintiff states that he observes high holy days and only eats clean and "ritually clean foods." (Doc. 5 at 35).

Plaintiff states that he asked Franey for a religious kosher diet, but was told he needed to "understand Judaism more" before Inmate Services would grant his request. (Doc. 5 at 36). Plaintiff then asked for religious literature but was told by Franey that the jail could only supply religious books that were donated. (Doc. 5 at 36). Franey told him to ask family, friends, or other inmates for the books he wanted. (Doc. 5 at 36). Plaintiff claims he has no family or friends that can supply the books for him. (Doc. 5 at 37).

Plaintiff's request for a kosher diet was denied by Inmate Services. (Doc. 5 at 37-38). When Plaintiff asked "Inmate Services" why his request was denied, he was informed that it was denied because Franey had recommended it be denied. (Doc. 5 at 38).

Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding the denial of his request for a religious kosher diet. (Doc. 5 at 38). In response to his grievance, Plaintiff was informed that he was not receiving a religious kosher diet because he was not receiving that type of diet at his prior institution. (Doc. 5 at 38-39). 2

Plaintiff argues that his prior institutions did not provide religious kosher diets, therefore he ate 3 religious meatless diets or vegetarian diets. (Doc. 5 at 39-40). Plaintiff claims that he is now "being 4 forced to eat unclean foods." (Doc. 5 at 40). 5

III.§ 1983 Claims

Section 1983 of title 42 of the United States Code does not confer substantive rights; but 7 instead provides "a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred." Albright v. Oliver, 8 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994). Section 1983 states in relevant part: 9

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State. subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In order to state a claim pursuant to § 1983, a plaintiff must allege facts that support that (1) he was deprived of a right afforded to him by federal law, and (2) the deprivation was committed by someone acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48-49 (1988); Williams v. Gorton, 529 F.2d 668, 670 (9th Cir. 1976). Additionally, a plaintiff is required to allege a specific injury suffered, as well as show a causal relationship between the defendant's conduct and the injury suffered by the plaintiff. See Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371-72, 377 (1976); Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978) (a person deprives another of a federal right "if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts, or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do so that it causes the deprivation of which complaint is made"). Section 1983 does not recognize respondeat superior liability. Monell v. Dep't. of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978). ...

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