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Lawrence v. McMahon

United States District Court, C.D. California

September 9, 2014

ANDRE LAWRENCE, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN MCMAHON, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

SUZANNE H. SEGAL, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

On June 28, 2014, Andre Lawrence ("Plaintiff"), a pretrial detainee proceeding pro se, constructively filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Dkt. No. 3). On August 8, 2014, the Court dismissed the Complaint with leave to amend due to certain pleading defects.[1] (Dkt. No. 7). The Court received Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint ("FAC") on August 27, 2014.[2] (Dkt. No. 9). Because Plaintiff has cured only some, but not all, of the pleading defects previously identified by the Court, the FAC is dismissed, with leave to amend.

Congress mandates that district courts perform an initial screening of complaints in civil actions where a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or employee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). This Court may dismiss such a complaint, or any portions thereof, before service of process if it concludes that the complaint (1) is frivolous or malicious, (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or (3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1-2); see also Lopez v. Smith , 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 & n.7 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

II.

ALLEGATIONS OF THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

The FAC names as defendants three employees of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, the latter two of whom worked during the relevant period at the West Valley Detention Center ("WVDC"), where Plaintiff is currently housed: San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon, Deputy Jones, and Reverend Scraggs (collectively, "Defendants"). (FAC at 1, 3).[3] Plaintiff sues all Defendants in both their individual and official capacities. (Id. at 3).

Although Plaintiff is "not Jewish, " he "practice[s] the Jewish faith." (Id. at 4). On May 23, 2014, Plaintiff requested a kosher diet. (Id.). On May 29, 2014, Reverend Scraggs, after questioning Plaintiff about his faith, informed Plaintiff that despite the apparent sincerity of his beliefs, he could not receive a kosher diet because the prison does not have a resident rabbi and it would take at least two weeks to contact a synagogue to see if Plaintiff is "on a list" so that his request for a kosher diet could be approved. (Id.). However, Reverend Scraggs "never got back" to Plaintiff. (Id.).

Plaintiff immediately filed a grievance. On May 30, 2014, Deputy Jones answered the grievance after verbally informing Plaintiff that his request would be deemed "unfounded." (Id.). Deputy Jones also stated that "per his supervisor, " Plaintiff's request was a "dead issue" and "there were no further levels of appeal." (Id.).

The FAC's allegations concerning Sheriff McMahon are faded to the point of near illegibility. However, Plaintiff notes that the Sheriff is in charge of all of his deputies and the staff at the WVDC. (Id. at 5). As such, Plaintiff contends that the Sheriff is responsible for his subordinates' actions and the policies of the facilities under his supervision. (Id. at 5).

Although the FAC is not entirely clear, Plaintiff appears to raise three claims, one against each Defendant. First, Plaintiff alleges that Reverend Scraggs violated his rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc et seq. ("RLUIPA"), by "unjustifiably denying [him] a kosher diet." (FAC at 3). Second, Plaintiff appears to argue that Deputy Jones violated his due process rights by denying him "a fair and impartial investigation of [his] grievance." (Id.). Third, Plaintiff claims that Sheriff McMahon, as Defendants' supervisor and "executor" of WVDC policy, is ultimately responsible for the failure of his "administration and staff" to conduct a "fair grievance investigations [sic]." (Id.).

Plaintiff prays for injunctive relief, but not damages. Plaintiff seeks an order requiring the WVDC to provide him a kosher diet and to employ a rabbi. (See id. at 6). He also demands that WVDC "change the actions of its staff and administration in regards to blocking the processes of the grievance system." (Id.).

III.

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