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Boyd v. Etchebehere

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 27, 2017

CURTIS BOYD, Plaintiff,
v.
C. ETCHEBEHERE, et.al. Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF NO. 84]

         Plaintiff Curtis Boyd is appearing pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         Currently before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment, filed February 6, 2017.

         I.

         RELEVANT HISTORY

         This action is proceeding on Plaintiff's first amended complaint against Defendants R. Guembe, C. Etchebehere, D. Perkins, B. Odle, F. Cote, J. Ojeda, J. Gallagher and D. Hetebrink for denial of Plaintiff's right under the First Amendment by requiring him to participate in the prison's Religious Meat Alternative Program in order to receive his religiously mandated Ramadan and evening meals.

         On March 25, 2016, Defendants filed an answer to the complaint. On March 30, 2016, the Court issued the discovery and scheduling order.

         As previously stated, on February 6, 2017, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff filed an opposition on June 5, 2017, and Defendants filed a reply on June 7, 2017. (ECF Nos. 101, 102.)

         On April 24, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion to suppress his deposition, and Defendants filed an opposition on April 27, 2017. The Court denied Plaintiff's motion on May 1, 2017.

         II.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Any party may move for summary judgment, and the Court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a) (quotation marks omitted); Washington Mut. Inc. v. U.S., 636 F.3d 1207, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). Each party's position, whether it be that a fact is disputed or undisputed, must be supported by (1) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including but not limited to depositions, documents, declarations, or discovery; or (2) showing that the materials cited do not establish the presence or absence of a genuine dispute or that the opposing party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1) (quotation marks omitted). The Court may consider other materials in the record not cited to by the parties, but it is not required to do so. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3); Carmen v. San Francisco Unified Sch. Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1031 (9th Cir. 2001); accord Simmons v. Navajo Cnty., Ariz., 609 F.3d 1011, 1017 (9th Cir. 2010).

         In resolving cross-motions for summary judgment, the Court must consider each party's evidence. Johnson v. Poway Unified Sch. Dist., 658 F.3d 954, 960 (9th Cir. 2011). Plaintiff bears the burden of proof at trial, and to prevail on summary judgment, he must affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for him. Soremekun v. Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir. 2007). Defendants do not bear the burden of proof at trial and in moving for summary judgment, they need only prove an absence of evidence to support Plaintiff's case. In re Oracle Corp. Sec. Litig., 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010).

         In judging the evidence at the summary judgment stage, the Court does not make credibility determinations or weigh conflicting evidence, Soremekun, 509 F.3d at 984 (quotation marks and citation omitted), and it must draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and determine whether a genuine issue of material fact precludes entry of judgment, Comite de Jornaleros de Redondo Beach v. City of Redondo Beach, 657 F.3d 936, 942 (9th Cir. 2011) (quotation marks and citation omitted).

         In arriving at this recommendation, the Court has carefully reviewed and considered all arguments, points and authorities, declarations, exhibits, statements of undisputed facts and responses thereto, if any, objections, and other papers filed by the parties. Omission of reference to an argument, document, paper, or objection is not to be construed to the effect that this Court did not consider the argument, document, paper, or objection. This Court thoroughly reviewed and considered the evidence it deemed admissible, material, and appropriate.

         III.

         SUMMARY OF PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT[1]

         In or around the year 2010, Catholic Chaplain J. Ojeda held a meeting with two Halal food companies to evaluate the possibility of purchasing holistic Halal food. After being presented with samples of Halal food trays, consisting of meats, vegetables, fruits and grains that make-up a Halal diet, J. Ojeda recommended to staff at California Substance Abuse and Treatment Facility (SATF) a Halal diet. Defendants J. Ojeda, F. Cote, and D. Perkins decided to provide only meat substitute to any persons requesting a religious diet. The program was titled the Religious Meat Alternative (RMA).

         On or about June 5, 2012, C. Etchebehere was advised and informed by, food administrator L. Maurino that there was presently an established procedure for Muslim inmates at SATF. According to the procedure, Muslim inmates who wanted to participate in the coming Ramadan fasting would signup at or from the Friday “Jumah” prayer service list.

         On or about June 18, 2012, Defendants C. Etchebehere, J. Ojeda, F Cote, J. Gallaher, B. Odle, D. Perkins, D. Hetebrink and R. Guembe, agreed to change the enrollment procedure and criteria for Muslim only participation and criteria for Muslim inmate at SATF, from the standard Muslim only participation, by way of the use of the Friday “Jumah” prayer services sign-up procedures to the exclusive use of the RMA list, which was for Muslims only. Not all Muslims were enrolled in the RMA.

         Defendants C. Etchebehere and F. Cote then forced Plaintiff under pains of hunger to enroll in and participate in the RMA program with non-Muslims, in order to receive permission for SATF to receive food for the early morning Sahoora, i.e. pre-dawn breakfast.

         Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages as relief.

         IV.

         DISCUSSION

         A.Statement of Undisputed Facts

         1. During all times relevant to this lawsuit, Plaintiff Curtis Boyd (G-63575) was an inmate in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), and incarcerated at the California Substance Abuse and Treatment Facility and State Prison - Corcoran (SATF). (Pl.'s Compl., ECF No. 1 at 6.)[2]

         2. During all times relevant to the First Amended Complaint (FAC), Defendant Etchebehere was employed by CDCR as an Associate Warden at SATF, Complex IV. (Decl. of C. Etchebehere, ¶ 2.)

         3. As the Associate Warden of Complex IV, Defendant was responsible for overseeing the religious programs at SATF. (Decl. of C. Etchebehere, ¶ 3; see Decl. of F. Cote, ¶ 3.)

         4. During all times relevant to the FAC, Defendant Cote was employed by CDCR as a Community Partnership Manager (CPM) at SATF. (Decl. of F. Cote, ¶ 2.)

         5. During all times relevant to the FAC, Defendants Guembe, Hetebrink, and Ojeda were employed by CDCR as State Chaplains at SATF. (Decl. of R. Guembe, ¶ 1; Decl. of D. Hetebrink, ¶ 3; Decl. of J. Ojeda, ¶ 2.)

         6. During all times relevant to the FAC, Defendants Gallagher and Odle were employed by CDCR as Correctional Lieutenants at SATF, acting in the capacity of Correctional Captains. (Decl. of J. Gallagher, ¶ 2; Decl. of B. Odle, ¶ 2.)

         7. During all times relevant to the FAC, Defendant Perkins was employed by CDCR as a Correctional Food Manager II (CFM) at SATF. (Decl. of D. Perkins, ¶ 2.)

         8. Plaintiff has been practicing Islam since 1979. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.009 [Pl.'s Dep. at 22:19-25].)

         9. Plaintiff believes that the Quran is the divinely-inspired word of God. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.014 [Pl.'s Dep. at 28:23-25].)

         10. During the time period relevant to the First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff could practice his faith by saying his five daily prayers, praying privately in his cell, or by praying with other inmates in their cells, the dayroom, or on the yard. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.010 [Pl.'s Dep. at 23:21-24:1]; see also id. at Whisnand.011 [Pl.'s Dep. at 24;3-7]; see also id. at Whisnand.013 [Pl.'s Dep. at 26:5-22]; see also id. at Whisnand.014 [Pl.'s Dep., at 28:4-11]; see also Decl. of C. Etchebehere, ¶ 43; see also Decl. of R. Guembe, ¶¶ 3-4.)

         11. Plaintiff could also practice his faith by attending the Friday “Jumu'ah” congregational prayer for Muslim inmates. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.010-011 [Pl.'s Dep. at 23:21-24:2]; see also id. at Whisnand.011 [Pl.'s Dep. at 24:3-7]; see also id. at Whisnand.013 [Pl.'s Dep. at 26:5-22]; see also id. at Whisnand.014 [Pl.'s Dep. at 28:4-11]; see also Decl. of C. Etchebehere, ¶ 43; see also Decl. of R. Guembe, ¶¶ 3-4.)

         12. Plaintiff attended Friday Jumu'ah prayer on a regular basis. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.013 [Pl.'s Dep. at 26:20-22]; see also Id. at Whisnand.094 [Pl.'s Dep., Errata Sheet]; Decl. of R. Guembe, ¶¶ 3-4.)

         13. Plaintiff could also practice his faith by fasting. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.010 [Pl.'s Dep., at 23:14-20]; see also id. at Whisnand.011 [Pl.'s Dep., at 24:3-7].)

         14. Plaintiff could also practice his faith by possessing religious property, such as prayer rugs, prayer beads, (“dhikr beads”), prayer oil, religious literature, and music. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.011 [Pl.'s Dep. at 24:8-19]; see also Decl. of C. Etchebehere, ¶ 43.)

         15. Plaintiff could also practice his faith by wearing religious headwear (‘kufi cap”). (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex A at Whisnand.011 [Pl.'s Dep. at 24:20-23]; see also Decl. of C. Etchebehere, ¶ 42.)

         16. Plaintiff could also practice his faith by owning and reading religious literature, including the Quran. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.012 [Pl.'s Dep. at 25:17]; see also Decl. of C. Etchebehere, ¶ 43.)

         17. Plaintiff could also borrow religious books from the library or chapel. (Decl. of C. Etchebehere, ¶ 43.)

         18. Plaintiff also participated in Ramadan at SATF during the three years prior to 2012. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.027 [Pl.'s Dep. at 44:14-23].)

         19. In 2012, Plaintiff was able to participate in two religious festivals at SATF-the Eid ul-Adha and the Eid ul-Fitr. (Pl.'s Compl, ECF No. 1 at 17, 21-22.)

         20. Plaintiff believes that certain foods are permissible for Muslims to eat (“halal”) while others are prohibited (“haram”).[3]

         21. Generally, according to Plaintiff's religious beliefs, anything that is not strictly haram (prohibited), is halal (permissible). (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.015-016 [Pl.'s Dep. at 31:22-32:7]; see also id. at Whisnand.016 [Pl.'s Dep. at 32:8-24]; see also id. at Whisnand.042 [Pl.'s Dep. at 62:6-16.)

         22. According to Plaintiff's religious beliefs, foods that are haram, or prohibited, include alcohol, pork, meat that is not killed in the name of Allah, and food that is contaminated with dyes or pesticides. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.016 [Pl.'s Dep. at 32:8-24]; see also id. at Whisnand.017-018 [Pl.'s Dep. at 33:5-34:4]; see also id. at Whisnand.021-022 [Pl.'s Dep. at 37:15-38:16].)

         23. According to Plaintiff's religious beliefs, food that was grown and sourced to be halal can be rendered haram if the person handling the food was an idol worshiper. (Decl. of A. Whisnand. Ex. A at Whisnand.048-050 [Pl.'s Dep at 70:7-72:10].)

         24. According to Plaintiff's religious beliefs, a prison diet that was otherwise halal could become offensive to him if he learned that non-Muslim homosexuals or idol worshipers were also consuming that diet. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.052-053 [Pl.'s Dep at 75:15-76:6]; see also id. at Whisnand.053-054 [Pl.'s Dep. at 76:7-77:9].)

         25. According to Plaintiff's religious beliefs, Plaintiff can eat haram foods if forced by necessity to do so. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.019 [Pl.'s Dep. at 35:1-11]; see also Id. at Whisnand.022 [Pl.'s Dep. at 38:18-25].)

         26. According to Plaintiff's religious beliefs, Plaintiff can avoid the spiritual consequences of earing haram food by praying for forgiveness and repenting. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.018 [Pl.'s Dep. at 34:21-25].)

         27. Plaintiff believes there may have been instances during his incarceration where he unknowingly consumed haram foods. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.019-020 [Pl.'s Dep. at 35:12-36:20].)

         28. Plaintiff also believes that there may have been occasions prior to his incarceration where he unknowingly consumed haram foods. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.020-021 [Pl.'s Dep. at 36:21-37:14].)

         29. Ramadan is an annual, month-long religious fast and celebration observed by Muslims. (Decl. of C. Etchebehere, ¶ 6; see also Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.023 [Pl.'s Dep at 39:4-8].)

         30. According to Plaintiff's religious beliefs, during the month of Ramadan he is required to fast from sunrise to sunset, avoid idle talk, avoid impure thoughts, and do good deeds. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.023-24 [Pl.'s Dep at 39:4-40:11].)

         31. According to Plaintiff's religious beliefs, he is not required to break his fast with any particular food item-even water will suffice. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.025 [Pl.'s Dep. at 41:8-18].)

         32. According to Plaintiff's religious beliefs, other than the fasting component, Ramadan does not alter Islam's religious dietary laws; during Ramadan, Plaintiff is only forbidden from eating foods that are haram. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.025-026 [Pl.'s Dep at 41:19-42:4].)

         33. During all times relevant to the FAC, SATF had several diet programs available to inmates, including: the “mainline” or general population diet, the Jewish Kosher Diet, the Religious Meat Alternate (RMA) Program, and the vegetarian diet. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.035 [Pl.'s Dep. at 55:15-20].)

         34. During normal feeding programming, all inmates, regardless of their diet program, would receive two hot meals in the dining hall (breakfast and dinner) and a sack lunch, to be eaten in their cells. (Decl. of C. Etchebehere, ¶ 8; see also Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.033 [Pl.'s Dep at 53:4-17].)

         35. In practice, inmates at SATF could keep items from their sack lunch in their cells. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.034-035 [Pl.'s Dep. at 54:5-55:3-; see also Decl. of C. Etchebehere, ¶ 9.)

         36. Inmates could also purchase food from SATF's canteen, such as ramen soups, beans, instant rice, candy, or cookies. (Decl. of A. Whisnand, Ex. A at Whisnand.062-063 [Pl.'s Dep. at 90:15-91:2]; see also Decl. of C. Etchebehere, ¶ 9.)

         37. Inmates were allowed to keep items that they had purchased form the canteen in their cells. (Decl. of C. Etchebehere, ¶ 9; see also Decl. of A. Whisnand, ...


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