United States District Court, S.D. New York
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August 4, 2014, Filed
For Brandi Simmons, Chayrmar Brown, Plaintiffs: Michael Lacovara, LEAD ATTORNEY, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, New York, NY, USA; Emily Barbara Holland, PRO HAC VICE, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Washington, DC, USA; Joseph Terence Gallagher, Davis Polk & Wardwell L.L.P., New York, NY, USA; Rahim Moloo, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Us LLP, New York, NY, USA.
For Devon Lloyd, Consolidated Plaintiff: Michael Lacovara, LEAD ATTORNEY, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, New York, NY, USA; Emily Barbara Holland, PRO HAC VICE, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Washington, DC, USA; Joseph Terence Gallagher, Davis Polk & Wardwell L.L.P., New York, NY, USA; Rahim Moloo, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Us LLP, New York, NY, USA.
For City of New York, Commissioner Doro B. Schriro, Defendants: Serena Mabel Longley, LEAD ATTORNEY, Martin John Bowe, Jr, NYC Law Department, New York, NY, USA.
Colleen McMahon, United States District Judge.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS THE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT
Plaintiffs Devon Lloyd, Brandi Simmons, and Chayrmar Brown (" Plaintiffs" ) bring this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc et seq., the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (" RLUIPA" ), against the City of New York through its Department of Correction (" DOC" ), Dora B. Schriro, the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction, and Luis Rivera, the warden of the Anna M. Kross Center (" AMKC" ) (" Defendants" ). Plaintiffs claim that they have been denied the ability to practice their Muslim religion while incarcerated at the AMKC, a correctional facility located on Rikers Island in New York City.
I. Procedural Background
Plaintiffs were among eight individuals whose cases, originally brought pro se, were consolidated under the above caption and docket number as related cases concerning the religious accommodations for Muslim inmates at AMKC. (Order at 1, Nov. 16, 2012, Docket No. 28.)
On December 4, 2012, the Court appointed the firm of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer U.S. LLP as pro bono counsel for the Plaintiffs in this action. (Docket No. 40.)
On February 11, 2013, Plaintiffs filed their Second Amended Consolidated Complaint (" SACC" ) on behalf of all eight original Plaintiffs. (Docket No. 53.) Plaintiffs' claims, like those of all eight original plaintiffs, arise from DOC's policies and practices concerning Muslim inmates at AMKC during the time Plaintiffs were incarcerated and continuing through today. (SACC ¶ ¶ 1-4, Docket No. 53.)
On February 28, 2013, Defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint, arguing, among other things, that Plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies. (Mot. to Dismiss, Feb. 28, 2013, Docket Nos. 55-57.)
On September 26, 2013, the court issued a Decision and Order converting Defendants' motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment, and granting Defendants' motion with respect to five of the original eight plaintiffs. Smith v. City of New York, No. 12 Civ. 3303 (CM), 2013 WL 5434144, at *30 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 26, 2013). With respect to Plaintiffs Lloyd, Simmons, and Brown, the Court determined that there existed genuine issues of fact related to exhaustion, and ordered an evidentiary hearing " to ascertain whether those plaintiffs are excused from exhausting their administrative remedies before filing this lawsuit." Id.
The court conducted the evidentiary hearing on January 13 and 14, 2014. I concluded that Plaintiffs had two live claims--for Defendants' failure to provide a dedicated worship space (a masjid) for Muslim inmates, and Defendants' failure to provide them with religious materials, such as the Koran, (Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (" FFCL" ) 36)-- because there was no administrative remedy " available" that could have been exhausted. ( Id. 37-38).
On March 17, 2014, Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss, again seeking to
dismiss the SACC pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Defendants argue that Plaintiffs (1) fail to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or RLUIPA; (2) fail to state a claim for municipal liability against the City of New York; and (3) fail to sufficiently allege that Defendants Schriro or Rivera were personally involved in any constitutional violation. (Mot. to Dismiss, Mar. 17, 2014, ECF Nos. 105, 106.)
II. Relevant Facts Alleged in the Complaint
The following facts are taken from the SACC and are assumed to be true for the purposes of the motion to dismiss.
AMKC is a DOC correctional facility on Rikers Island for male inmates who, for the most part, stay there temporarily during trial and/or prior to sentencing and are later released or transferred elsewhere. (Compl. ¶ 19.) AMKC has the largest capacity of any facility on Rikers Island, consisting of 40 housing areas spread over 40 acres capable of accommodating nearly 3,000 inmates.
Plaintiffs each were detained at AMKC during all or part of 2012. (SACC ¶ 2.) Each of the Plaintiffs is a practicing Muslim and was a Muslim during the time of his incarceration at AMKC. Id.
DOC implements its policies in all of its correctional facilities, including AMKC, by promulgating guidelines (the " Directives" ). These Directives cover the religious practices and activities of inmates. (SACC ¶ 21.) The system-wide Directives are implemented by each facility's warden via Command Level Orders. Id.
DOC Directives concerning religious practice provide that inmates and detainees have the unrestricted right to hold any religious belief or belong to any religion, and that inmates and detainees should be permitted to practice their religions in any manner that does not present a clear and present danger to the safety and security of an institution or disrupt its orderly administration.
DOC Directives provide that inmates and detainees are permitted to select a religious affiliation and to participate in religious programming, which includes congregate religious services. (SACC ¶ 23.) DOC facilities are required to schedule appropriate congregate religious services and to provide appropriate spaces for such services. Id.
Plaintiffs allege that the DOC policies and practices actually in place at AMKC do not reflect those outlined in the DOC Directives. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that Muslim inmates at AMKC " are not provided with adequate prayer facilities." (Compl. ¶ ¶ 3-4.) Plaintiffs allege that they were forced to conduct their daily prayers and weekly " Jumu'ah" worships services in the AMKC gymnasium, which is an unsuitable space for worship because it is crowded with Corrections Officers and other inmates, and otherwise failed to serve as a reasonable accommodation for religious practice. (Compl. ¶ ¶ 29-30, 40, 48.)
On other occasions, Plaintiffs had to congregate in the AMKC Christian chapel, which contained pews that made it impossible for Plaintiffs to kneel for prayer, as well as Christian images that were discordant with Muslim beliefs. (Compl. ¶ 29.)
Moreover, AMKC did not provide a dedicated space for Plaintiffs to wash their hands and feet in preparation for prayer, despite the fact that such ritual ablutions are a requirement before prayer. (Compl. ¶ 3, 29.)
Plaintiffs further allege that, while Christian and Jewish inmates had " free access to plentiful religious texts and other materials," Muslim inmates " were not afforded adequate supplies of basic religious
materials, like copies of the central Muslim sacred text, the Koran." ...