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Vaughn v. Wegman

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 1, 2017

RAY LEE VAUGHN, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
WEGMAN, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PLAINTIFF TO PROCEED ON RELIGION CLAIMS AGAINST DEFENDANTS WEGMAN AND BOWMAN AND THAT DEFENDANT HOWARD AND ALL CLAIMS AGAINST HIM BE DISMISSED (Doc. 12)

          JENNIFER L. THURSTON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Ray Lee Vaughn, Sr. asserts his civil rights were violated through the denial of participation in the Jewish Kosher Program and Jewish services at Kern Valley State Prison by C. Wegman, the food supervisor, Pentecostal Chaplain Bowman, and Muslim Imam M. Howard. Plaintiff has stated cognizable claims against Wegman and Chaplain Bowman for violation of his religious rights, but, despite being given specific direction in the prior screening order, failed to link Imam Howard to any of his factual allegations. Thus, the Court recommends that Plaintiff be allowed to proceed on his religious claims against Defendants Wegman and Bowman, and that Imam Howard and all claims against him be dismissed with prejudice.

         I. Findings

         A. Screening Requirement

         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, malicious, 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); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). If an action is dismissed on one of these three basis, a strike is imposed per 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). An inmate who has had three or more prior actions or appeals dismissed as frivolous, malicious, or for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and has not alleged imminent danger of serious physical injury does not qualify to proceed in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g); Richey v. Dahne, 807 F.3d 1201, 1208 (9th Cir. 2015).

         Section 1983 “provides a cause of action for the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989).

         To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Ketchum v. Alameda Cnty., 811 F.2d 1243, 1245 (9th Cir. 1987).

         B. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff names Food Manager C. Wegman, Pentecostal Chaplain Bowman, and Muslim Imam M. Howard as defendants in this action.

         Plaintiff's first claim is for deprivation of a Kosher diet. (Doc. 12, pp. 3-4.) Under this claim, Plaintiff alleges that upon arrival at KVSP, his previously approved 3030 Kosher meal form was sent to Wegman who “started the process.” Since there is no Rabbi at KVSP, Wegman sent Chaplain Bowman to interview Plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges that Bowman saw that Plaintiff is a Black-Hebrew-Jewish inmate and refused to approve his Kosher meal request -- despite 20 years of prior approval. Wegman thereafter sent him a stamped signed memorandum denying his request. Plaintiff alleges that, based on CDCR rules and regulations, he only needs to be approved once by a Rabbi. Plaintiff has never been interviewed by a Rabbi since being at KVSP, but he alleges that inmates are only required to be approved once and the CDCR practice is to honor the prior approval. Plaintiff alleges there are a number of other inmates that have been approved without a Rabbi at KVSP.

         Plaintiff's second claim is for denial of access to Jewish services. (Doc. 12, pp. 4-5.) Under this claim, Plaintiff alleges that he has made several requests to be allowed to attend Jewish services, but that Chaplain Bowman has denied him every time, or simply removed Plaintiff's name from the list. Plaintiff alleges that Wegman has “taken the matter upon herself to regulate the religious services list when this is not her job” and that she has even placed Plaintiff “on other list [sic] for pure amusement and manipulation.” Plaintiff also alleges that Wegman and Chaplain Bowman have denied him “the Pass Over” which he asserts is “the most important cleansing and fasting part” of his religion. Plaintiff alleges he has been “forced to eat only the peanut butter and jelly items mostly.”

         Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief to be transferred to a prison that will accommodate his Jewish Kosher meal needs or that he be able to receive Jewish Kosher meals at KVSP, and that he be reimbursed for denied past Kosher meals at KVSP. As in his original pleading, Plaintiff fails to identify any causes of action in his First Amended Complaint. Thus, the Court again presumes that Plaintiff seeks to state claims for violations of the First Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).

         C. Pleading Requirements

         1. Federal Rule of ...


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