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Riehl v. Martin

United States District Court, N.D. New York

March 31, 2014

DONNA MARTIN et al., Defendants.

FOR THE PLAINTIFF: Charles Riehl Pro Se 08-A-4913 Great Meadow Correctional Facility Comstock, NY.

FOR THE DEFENDANTS: DOUGLAS J. GOGLIA Assistant Attorney General ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN New York Attorney General The Capitol, Albany, NY.


GARY L. SHARPE, Chief District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff pro se Charles Jacob Riehl commenced this action against defendants Donna Martin, Howard Matasar, and Harold Graham, alleging violations of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA)[1] and his First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Compl., Dkt. No. 1 at 11-20.) Defendants moved for summary judgment in lieu of an answer, (Dkt. No. 18), and Riehl responded to the motion with new allegations, (Dkt. No. 21), and also sought to amend certain dates alleged in his complaint, (Dkt. No. 20).[2]

In an Order and Report-Recommendation (R&R) filed December 19, 2013, Magistrate Judge Therèse Wiley Dancks recommended that all claims be dismissed with the exception of Riehl's claim under § 1983 for a Free Exercise Clause violation as against Martin and Matasar. (Dkt. No. 34 at 22.) Judge Dancks also recommended that Riehl be granted leave to amend his complaint. ( Id. ) Pending before the court are Riehl's objections to the R&R. (Dkt. No. 37.) For the reasons that follow, the R&R is adopted in its entirety.

II. Background

Riehl, who was incarcerated at Auburn Correctional Facility during the relevant time period, identifies himself as an "observant orthodox Jewish man." (Defs.' Statement of Material Facts (SMF) ¶¶ 1-3, Dkt. No. 18, Attach. 4; Compl. at 13.) In dispute are Riehl's allegations that at the Passover Seder in April 2012, his meal contained chametz, a leavening agent, and was not prepared according to Jewish dietary law, which resulted in him not being able to partake in the holy day. (Compl. at 4, 22.) In response to defendants' motion for summary judgment, Riehl alleged new facts that significantly expanded upon his claim that he was served forbidden foods. (Dkt. Nos. 21 and 24.) Riehl's new allegations were considered by Judge Dancks. (Dkt. No. 34 at 11-13.)

III. Standard of Review

Before entering final judgment, this court routinely reviews all report and recommendation orders in cases it has referred to a magistrate judge. If a party has objected to specific elements of the magistrate judge's findings and recommendations, this court reviews those findings and recommendations de novo. See Almonte v. N.Y. State Div. of Parole, No. Civ. 904CV484GLS, 2006 WL 149049, at *3, *5 (N.D.N.Y. Jan. 18, 2006). In those cases where no party has filed an objection, or only a vague or general objection has been filed, this court reviews the findings and recommendations of the magistrate judge for clear error.[3] See id.

IV. Discussion

Riehl's objections do not take issue with any particular aspect of Judge Dancks' recommendations. (Dkt. No. 37.) The thrust of his objections is merely a rehashing of arguments made in response to defendants' motion for summary judgment. ( Compare Dkt. Nos. 21 and 24, with Dkt. No. 37.) In particular, Riehl "objects" to portions of the declarations of Matasar and Martin. (Dkt. No. 37 at 1-4.) Since Riehl's objections do not point out any specific shortcomings in the R&R, and, instead, regurgitate earlier-raised arguments, review for clear error is warranted. See Almonte, 2006 WL 149049, at *4, *6.

Having thoroughly reviewed the R&R, the court finds no clear error in Judge Dancks' recommendations, and adopts it in its entirety.

V. Conclusion

WHEREFORE, for the foregoing reasons, it is hereby

ORDERED that Magistrate Judge Therèse Wiley Dancks' Order and Report-Recommendation (Dkt. No. 34) is ADOPTED in its entirety; and it is further

ORDERED that defendants' motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 18) is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART as follows:

GRANTED as to all claims against Graham; and

GRANTED as to Riehl's RLUIPA claim against Martin and Matasar; and

GRANTED as to any request for injunctive relief; and

DENIED in all other respects, leaving only a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for a violation of the Free Exercise Clause as to Martin and Matasar; and it is further

ORDERED that Riehl is granted leave to amend his complaint to assert the new allegations against Martin and Matasar raised in his opposition papers (Dkt. Nos. 21 and 24); and it is further

ORDERED that, with respect to any amended complaint filed by Riehl, he shall include factual allegations describing the role of Martin and Matasar sufficiently to allow the court to assess whether a plausible claim has been stated against them; and it is further

ORDERED that, if Riehl files an amended complaint, it shall be a wholly integrated and complete pleading with separately numbered allegations that does not rely upon, or incorporate by reference, the original complaint; and it is further

ORDERED that the Clerk provide a copy of this Memorandum-Decision and Order to the parties.


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