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Webb v. California Department of Corrections

United States District Court, E.D. California

December 23, 2014

JACK WEBB, Plaintiff,


BARBARA A. McAULIFFE, Magistrate Judge.

I. Screening Requirement and Standard

Plaintiff Jack Webb ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's complaint, filed on August 12, 2013, is currently before the Court for screening.

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Plaintiff's complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2); 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, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)). While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, courts "are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences." Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

To survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. United States Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

II. Plaintiff's Allegations

Plaintiff is currently housed at Sierra Conservation Center ("SCC"), where the events in the complaint are alleged to have occurred. Plaintiff names the following defendants: (1) Jeffrey Beard, Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"); (2) Margo Wilkerson, Community Resource Manager, SCC; (3) Heidi Lackner, SCC Warden; (4) Chaplain Littlejohns; (5) M. Baldwin, Appeals Coordinator; (6) Kathleen Dickinson, Director of Adult Institutions; (7) Doe #1, SCC Mailroom Supervisor; (8) Doe #2 Religious Review Committee; (9) Frank Chavez; and (10) CDCR. Defendants are sued in their individual and official capacities.

Plaintiff's complaint concerns allegations that Defendants have hindered his practice of his Asatru/Odinic faith. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that a Chaplain did not show up to allow Plaintiff to practice his religion on December 9, 2008.

On December 29, 2008, Chaplain Littlejohns received a 602 grievance for delivery, but refused to accept or sign any documents. Chaplain Littlejohns instructed the practitioners to address the issues to Defendant Wilkerson.

On January 6, 2009, members of the Asatru/Odinic faith met with Defendant Wilkerson regarding issues of chapel times, calendar dates, recognition as a religious group, outdoor land and the failure to ducat practitioners for meetings and special events. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Wilkerson either denied the requests or failed to act on the requests.

On February 9, 2009, the request for an outdoor worship area was denied due to safety and security of the institution.

On March 9, 2009, a book order was resubmitted. The books were ordered twice by Defendant Littlejohns because of the "discriminatory practices of Defendants to non-traditional faiths.... (ECF No. 1, p. 13.) Plaintiff alleges that other faiths do no experience such routine inconveniences.

On March 9, 2009, Lt. Knoig heard a citizen's complaint against Defendant Wilkinson. Lt. Knoig would not allow an inmate minister for the Asatru/Odinic practitioners in violation of California regulations. Plaintiff argues that this was discrimination against him because other similarly situated persons are allowed inmate ministers.

On April 11, 2009, Defendant Wilkerson, Captain Gibbs and Chaplain Littlejohns interviewed Inmate Stien in connection with a 602 request for outdoor land use for religious purposes. The 602 was partially granted, but no action was taken to conform the requested land use.

On May 11, 2009, a book order arrived. The order was sent to the lower yard and inmates on C-Facility (Tuolumne yard) received used books from the lower yard. Plaintiff alleges that this is the type of discrimination done by Chaplain Littlejohns, Defendant Wilkerson and other staff.

On May 11, 2009, Defendant Baldwin screened out a 602 appeal because too much time had elapsed. Plaintiff contends that time limits are not mandatory and this denial was another event to deprive the Asatru/Odinic practitioners their right to freely practice their faith.

On June 1, 2009, Chaplain Littlejohns stated that there would not be a meeting on June 9, 2009, or a banquet on June 21, 2009, because there was no sponsor. Plaintiff alleges that custody could have been assigned to oversee the banquet and that Asatru/Odinic practitioners do not require a church sanctioned person to oversee their functions.

On October 10, 2009, practitioners had a discussion with Chaplain Littlejohns regarding the use of a lighter to burn sage and other incense. Chaplain Littlejohns denied the request.

On November 2, 2009, an inmate filed a 602 grievance against the appeals coordinator for not properly processing grievances concerning the Asatru/Odinic faith.

On March 15, 2010, Plaintiff alleges that another inmate was placed in administrative lock-up in retaliation for filing grievances related to establishment of an Asatru/Odinic religious program at SCC.

On March 20, 2010, Chaplain Littlejohns escorted members of the Asatru/Odinic faith to the facility visiting room for an indoor Blot (congregational ceremony). Plaintiff alleges that denial of an outdoor ceremony, which is an essential part of Asatru/Odinic practice, caused a deprivation of his rights.

On April 3, 2010, ducats were issued to Asatru/Odinic practitioners, but SCC staff refused to honor them.

On April 5, 2010, Chaplain Littlejohns warned Asatru/Odinic members that if they continued to curse during services, then he would no longer be their sponsor. Plaintiff complained that this denied him freedom of expression and caused an unreasonable burden on his freedom of speech.

On April 17, 2010, CDCR issued a "Notice of Change to Regulations." The change required custody and staff to all practitioners excused time off. However, SCC did not allow excused time off without a threat of retaliation, such as losing a job or being passed over for promotions. Plaintiff alleges that this forced practitioners to choose between a job and the practice of faith.

On April 18, 2010, Defendant Lackner, while at Mule Creek State Prison, received a request for a job position to be created. Defendant Lackner had knowledge regarding the needs of non-traditional faiths from her previous employment, but Plaintiff alleges that he was denied the opportunity to practice his faith by those under Defendant Lackner's supervision.

On April 19, 2010, Asatru/Odinic members requested supplies from Chaplain Littlejohns, but no supplies were issued.

In June 2010, SCC issued a supplement to its Operations Manual. However, Plaintiff alleges that the supplement excluded a great deal of Asatru/Odinic practitioners' needs and did not allow for an outdoor area. Plaintiff ...

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