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Holland v. Goord

United States District Court, Second Circuit

June 19, 2013

GLENN GOORD, in his individual capacity, BRIAN FISCHER, in his official capacity as Commissioner Department of Correctional Services, ANTHONY F. ZON, in both his individual and official capacity as former Superintendent, Wende Correctional Facility, THOMAS SCHOELLKOPF, in both his individual and official capacity as Hearing Officer, Wende Correctional Facility, JOHN BARBERA, in both his individual and official capacity as Correctional Officer, Wende Correctional Facility, JAY WYNKOOP, in both his individual and official capacity as Watch Commander and/or Keeplock Review Officer, Wende Correctional Facility, and MARTIN KEARNEY, in both his individual and official capacity as Captain, Wende Correctional Facility, Defendants.


MICHAEL A. TELESCA, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Darryl Holland ("Holland" or "Plaintiff"), acting pro se, instituted this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants alleging violations of his rights under the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"). Presently pending are Defendants' motion for summary judgment and Plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' motion is granted, and Plaintiff's cross-motion is denied.[1]

II. Factual Background

On November 20, 2003, at about 2 p.m., Captain Martin Kearney ("Capt. Kearney") of Wende Correctional Facility ("Wende") received a tip from a confidential informant that Holland had been using drugs. (Kearney 50-53).[2] Capt. Kearney advised Correction Officer John Barbera ("CO Barbera"), who is certified to conduct urine testing, to obtain a specimen from Holland as soon as possible and submit it for testing. (Kearney 52-54, 66-67, 84; Barbera 5, 50-51).

DOCCS' urine testing procedure is set forth in Directive #4937. (Kearney 37-40; Barbera 33); see also N.Y. COMP. CODE R. & REGS. tit. 7, § 1020.4 ("Urinalysis Testing-Procedure"). If an inmate is unable to produce a urine sample at the time of the original request, he is offered water and given three hours in which to comply. (Barbera 31-32). If, after three hours, the inmate has not produced a urine sample, he is deemed to have refused the test. (Barbera 31-32). In such case, the inmate could incur the same disciplinary disposition that a positive result could have supported. SEE N.Y. COMP. CODE R. & REGS. tit. 7, § 1020.4(d)(4). Directive #4937 does not state that a correction officer has the discretion to delay the testing beyond three hours. See id.

CO Barbera's regular shift was 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., but Capt. Kearney authorized overtime in order to have CO Barbera complete Holland's test. (Kearney 52; Barbera 73). There was no one on the shift following CO Barbera's authorized to conduct urine testing. (Barbera 75).

When CO Barbera brought Holland to the urine testing room at 2:10 p.m. and asked him to provide a sample, Holland replied that he was unable to do so because he had not eaten or drunk anything since 4:30 a.m., due to his fasting for Ramadan. (Holland 31-37). Holland offered to drink water after sunset and then provide a urine sample within a reasonable time afterwards. Holland also asked CO Barbera to contact Wende's Islamic Chaplain for confirmation of Holland's fasting requirements during Ramadan. CO Barbera stated he was without authority to postpone the test, and declined to contact the facility's imam.

At about 4:15 p.m., CO Barbera offered Holland some water. Holland refused, saying, "I can't drink no water. I'm fasting." (Holland 37). CO Barbera said, "I'll have to lock you up." (Id.). Holland replied, "[Y]ou've got to do what you've got to do." (Id.).

At 5:15 p.m., CO Barbera informed Holland that the time to provide a sample had passed, that he was deemed to have refused a direct order the test, and that he would be written up in a misbehavior report. (Barbera 73). Upon learning of the incident from CO Barbera's misbehavior report, Capt. Kearney did not exercise the discretion he had used in other cases to grant an exception to the policy outlined in Directive #4937. (Kearney 62-63).

Hearing Officer Thomas Schoellkopf ("HO Schoellkopf") conducted a Tier III Superintendent's Hearing on November 25, 2003, regarding the misbehavior report. See Plaintiff's Exhibit ("Pl's Ex.") 10 (Dkt #78-5). The hearing lasted five minutes, and HO Schoellkopf declined to call Plaintiff's sole requested witness-Imam Aleem Hassan ("Imam Hassan"), the facility's Islamic chaplain. HO Schoellkopf found Plaintiff "not guilty" of violating Rule 106.10 (refusing a direct order) and "guilty" of violating Rule 180.14 (urinalysis testing violation). Pl's Ex. 10 (Dkt #78-5). The penalty imposed was 90 days of keeplock, as well as 90 days of lost privileges (package, commissary, phone, and T.V.). Id . Plaintiff instituted a timely administrative appeal.

On December 4, 2003, Wende's Islamic Chaplain, Imam Hassan, sent a memorandum to Capt. Kearney, describing Holland's circumstances and explaining that during Ramadan, "a fasting person is not allowed to eat or drink during the daylight hours." He noted, "It seems that the urine sample could have been taken after sunset when the inmate would have eaten and drank [sic] at that time."

On December 9, 2003, filed a grievance with the Inmate Grievance Resolution Committee ("IGRC") requesting that a "memo be drawn up so that this does not happen to other Muslims during Ramadan... where they might be forced to have to drink water during fasting times or suffer disciplinary actions." The IGRC responded by "recommend[ing] that [the Imam] take the necessary steps to ensure that Muslims who are fasting do not have to break there [sic] fast to provide urine samples in the future during the month of Ramdan." Holland, who was still in keeplock, stated that although he agreed with the IGRC's conclusion, he nevertheless was appealing it to Superintendent Anthony Zon ("Supt. Zon").

On January 21, 2004, Supt. Zon issued the following decision:

Upon further investigation and the IGRC hearing, this grievance is accepted in part. Per the Imam, Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink during daylight hours-sunrise to sunset during Ramadan. Urinalysis testing could be taken after sunset, for example, after the grievant has broken his fast. Any future concerns can be addressed to the Imam.

Pl's Ex. 12 (Dkt #78-5). Holland indicated that while he agreed with Supt. Zon's conclusion, he was compelled to appeal it because the adverse disciplinary hearing upon which the grievance was based had not been reversed. Thomas Eagen, Director of the Inmate Grievance Program Central Office Review Committee ("IGP/CORC") issued a decision on March 3, 2004, stating that Plaintiff's request was "unanimously accepted in part... to the extent that CORC upholds the determination of the Superintendent for the reasons stated." Pl's Ex. 14 (Dkt #78-5).

On February 5, 2004, Plaintiff's adverse disciplinary ruling was reviewed and reversed by Donald Selsky, Director of Special Housing/Inmate Disciplinary Program. The reason given for the reversal was "failure to interview requested employee witness who could have provided relevant testimony." Pl's Ex. 15 (Dkt #78-5). All references to the November 25, 2003 Superintendent's Hearing were expunged from Plaintiff's records. Id . Plaintiff was released from keeplock after having served 77 days of his 90-day sentence.

III. Procedural History of Plaintiff's § 1983 Action

Plaintiff timely commenced the instant action pro se. The Court (Siragusa, D.J.) assigned pro bono counsel on December 13, 2007. Extensive discovery ensued, including the depositions of Holland, CO Barbera, Capt. Kearney, Supt. Zon, Imam Hassan, and HO Schoellkopf.

Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on June 15, 2010 (Dkt ##70-75). In support of their defense to Plaintiff's claims under the Free Exercise Clause and RLUIPA, Defendants submitted the declarations of two DOCCS employees, Lester Wright, M.D. ("Dr. Wright") and Captain Stephen Casaceli ("Capt. Casaceli"). Plaintiff filed a motion (Dkt #77) on July 23, 2010, to have Dr. Wright's Declaration and Capt. Casaceli's Declaration stricken because Defendants never identified Dr. Wright or Capt. Casaceli in their disclosures pursuant to Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("F.R.C.P.") and never supplemented their Rule 26 disclosures to add Dr. Wright or Capt. Casaceli as potential witnesses. Plaintiff also cross-moved for summary judgment (Dkt #78) against Defendants. In support of their summary judgment motion, Plaintiff submitted an affidavit from their expert witness on the Muslim religion, Dr. Mohammed Shafiq. Pl's Ex. 22 (Dkt. #78-5).

On October 8, 2010, the Court (Siragusa, D.J./Payson, M.J.) denied Defendants' motion to amend their answer to include a statute of limitations defense to Plaintiff's RLUIPA claim, finding that Defendants had not acted with the requisite diligence during the 20 months they had failed to assert the defense and had not demonstrated good cause. (Dkt #87).

This matter was transferred to the undersigned on October 19, 2012. (Dkt #88). On December 20, 2012, the Court granted (Dkt #89) Plaintiff's motion to strike the declarations of Dr. Wright and Captain Casaceli, and held that these pleadings would not be considered in connection with Defendants' motion for summary judgment, in any other pending motion, or at trial.

The summary judgment motions are now fully submitted and ready for decision.

IV. Summary Judgment Standards Under F.R.C.P. 56

Summary judgment is appropriate when it is demonstrated that there exists "no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); see generally, e.g., Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). "[W]here the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue, a summary judgment motion may properly be made in reliance solely on the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file.'" Celotex Corp. , 477 U.S. at 324.

If the movant meets its initial responsibility, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue as to any material fact actually does exist. Id. at 331; see also Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986) (citing 10A C. Wright, A. Miller, & M. Kane, FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE § 2725, pp. 93-95 (1983)).

The nonmoving party must produce "significant probative evidence" demonstrating that a material factual dispute does in fact exist; otherwise, summary judgment is appropriate. Anderson , 477 U.S. at 249 (citation omitted). In order to establish a material issue of fact, the nonmovant need only provide "sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute" such that a "jury or judge [is required] to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial." Id. at 248-49 (quoting First Nat'l Bank of Arizona v. Cities Serv. Co. , 391 U.S. 253, 288-89 (1968)). Thus, the "purpose of summary judgment is to pierce the pleadings and to assess the ...

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