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Guillory v. Weber

United States District Court, N.D. New York

March 6, 2015

ROBERT WEBER, Cleric, Mid-State Correctional Facility; KURT ELLIS, Cleric, Mid-State Correctional Facility; KAREN MCDANIEL, Acting Superintendent of Programs, Mid-State Correctional Facility; NICK DEMMA, Acting Food Services Administrator, Mid-State Correctional Facility; THEDA KUPIEC, Senior Mailroom Supervisor, Mid-State Correctional Facility; NUNZIO DOLDO, Acting Superintendent, Gouverneur Correctional Facility; ROBERT PIRIE, Deputy Superintendent of Programs, Gouverneur Correctional Facility; DANIEL CRAWFORD, Deputy Superintendent of Security, Gouverneur Correctional Facility, Defendants.

PATRICK GUILLORY Pro se Plaintiff Clinton Correctional Facility Dannemora, NY.

ADRIENNE J. KERWIN, ESQ., Assistant Attorney General, HON. ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN, Attorney General of the State of New York, Albany, NY, Attorney for Defendants.


RANDOLPH F. TREECE, Magistrate Judge.

On February 12, 2011, [1] pro se Plaintiff Patrick Guillory, while incarcerated at Gouverneur Correctional Facility, commenced a civil rights action, pursuant to the Religious Land Use Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc et seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendment stemming from his confinement at both Gouverneur and Mid-State Correctional Facilities. See generally Dkt. No. 1, Compl. On August 18, 2014, Defendants moved for summary judgment. Dkt. No. 140. On September 5, 2014, Plaintiff filed his Response in opposition. Dkt. No. 147.[2] The following claims are presently before the Court:[3]

1. Retaliation claims against Mid-State Defendants Ellis, Demma, Weber, and McDaniel for the July 11th and July 19th incidents;
2. First Amendment free exercise claim against Mid-State Defendants Weber, Ellis, and McDaniel for the lack of Jewish service on July 11th;
3. First Amendment free exercise and RLUIPA claims against Mid-State Defendants McDaniel, Demma, and Weber for failing to provide him with a meal to break his fast on July 19th;
4. First Amendment free exercise and RLUIPA claims against Gouverneur Defendants Crawford, Doldo, and Pirie for the events that occurred during the Festival of Sukkot;
5. Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim against Gouverneur Defendants Doldo, Pirie, and Crawford as well as Mid-State Defendants Ellis and Weber; and
6. Plaintiff's First Amendment and retaliation claims against Mid-State Defendant Kupiec.


A. Summary Judgment Standard

Pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a), summary judgment is appropriate only where "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." The moving party bears the burden to demonstrate through "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with [ ] affidavits, if any, " that there is no genuine issue of material fact. F.D.I.C. v. Giammettei, 34 F.3d 51, 54 (2d Cir. 1994) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). "When a party has moved for summary judgment on the basis of asserted facts supported as required by [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e)] and has, in accordance with local court rules, served a concise statement of the material facts as to which it contends there exist no genuine issues to be tried, those facts will be deemed admitted unless properly controverted by the nonmoving party." Glazer v. Formica Corp., 964 F.2d 149, 154 (2d Cir. 1992).

To defeat a motion for summary judgment, the non-movant must set out specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial, and cannot rest merely on allegations or denials of the facts submitted by the movant. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); see also Scott v. Coughlin, 344 F.3d 282, 287 (2d Cir. 2003) ("Conclusory allegations or denials are ordinarily not sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment when the moving party has set out a documentary case."); Rexnord Holdings, Inc. v. Bidermann, 21 F.3d 522, 525-26 (2d Cir. 1994). To that end, sworn statements are "more than mere conclusory allegations subject to disregard... they are specific and detailed allegations of fact, made under penalty of perjury, and should be treated as evidence in deciding a summary judgment motion" and the credibility of such statements is better left to a trier of fact. Scott v. Coughlin, 344 F.3d at 289 (citing Flaherty v. Coughlin, 713 F.2d 10, 13 (2d Cir. 1983) and Colon v. Coughlin, 58 F.3d 865, 872 (2d Cir. 1995)).

When considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant. Nora Beverages, Inc. v. Perrier Group of Am., Inc., 164 F.3d 736, 742 (2d Cir. 1998). "[T]he trial court's task at the summary judgment motion stage of the litigation is carefully limited to discerning whether there are any genuine issues of material fact to be tried, not to deciding them. Its duty, in short, is confined at this point to issue-finding; it does not extend to issue-resolution." Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., Ltd. P'ship, 22 F.3d 1219, 1224 (2d Cir. 1994). Furthermore, where a party is proceeding pro se, the court must "read [his or her] supporting papers liberally, and... interpret them to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." Burgos v. Hopki ns, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994), accord Soto v. Walker, 44 F.3d 169, 173 (2d Cir. 1995). Nonetheless, mere conclusory allegations, unsupported by the record, are insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment. See Carey v. Crescenzi, 923 F.2d 18, 21 (2d Cir. 1991). Summary judgment is appropriate "[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The following facts are undisputed.

B. Facts

1. Mid-State Correctional Facility

a. July 11, 2011

Plaintiff claims that he and other Jewish inmates were prevented from attending

Jewish services on July 11, 2011, while Christian and Wicca inmates were permitted to attend their respective religious services on that date. Compl. at ¶ 19. Facility chaplains are responsible for planning and scheduling religious events and services, but only for the particular religion that he or she practices. Dkt. No. 140-4, Kurt Ellis Decl., dated May 15, 2014, at ¶ 7. They are also responsible for documenting an inmate's request to attend such services, which includes arranging "call-outs." Id. at ¶¶ 7-8. A call-out is an authorization slip that permits inmates to attend religious functions. Id. at ¶ 9. Once a call-out is submitted by a facility chaplain, it must be approved by the Deputy Superintendent of Programs. Id. at ¶ 10.

Defendant Karen McDaniel is employed by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision ("DOCCS") as Mid-State's Acting Deputy Superintendent for Programs. Dkt. No. 140-6, Karen McDaniel Decl., dated May 15, 2014, at ¶ 1. On July 12, 2011, McDaniel received a letter from Plaintiff complaining that a call-out was not issued for Jewish service on July 11th. Id. at ¶ 10.

Defendant Kurt Ellis is the Protestant Chaplain at Mid-State, and, according to facility policy, is not responsible for arranging religious services for any other faith-based groups. Ellis Decl. at ¶¶ 1& 7. Rabbi Theodore Max is Mid-State's Chaplain for the Jewish faith.[4] Id. at ¶ 11. On July 11, 2011, Ellis informed Rabbi Max that, due to a clerical error in the call-out office, a call-out for Jewish service had been left off the call-out list and that Plaintiff was upset that Jewish service was not held. Id. at ¶ 19. On Ellis's suggestion, Rabbi Max provided Plaintiff with a private Jewish service on July 11, 2011. Id. at ¶¶ 21-22.

During all relevant times, Defendant Robert Weber was employed by DOCCS as Mid-State's Coordinating Chaplain. Dkt. No. 140-9, Robert Weber Decl., dated May 15, 2014, at ¶ 1. Weber states that Rabbi Max, in his capacity as the Jewish Chaplain, was responsible for preparing the call-out for Jewish service on July 11, 2011, but his records indicate that a call-out for Jewish service was not published on that date. Id. at ¶¶ 10-11.

b. July 19, 2011

On July 14, 2011, Defendants Weber and McDaniel received a memorandum from Catherine M. Jacobsen, DOCCS Acting Deputy Commissioner of Program Services, which outlined the protocol for the Jewish Fast of Tammuz. Weber Decl. at ¶ 13; McDaniel at ¶ 13. The memorandum states that "[a]ny Jewish inmate who chooses to participate in the fast will be excused from the Cold Alternative Diet[5] for all three meals" and "alternative procedures to distribute the evening meal should be implemented by the facility" because Jewish inmates "can not eat until after the sun has set" during the Fast of Tammuz. Dkt. No. 147-1, Pl.'s Resp. Ex., at p. 3, Jacobsen Mem., dated July 14, 2011.[6] Weber forwarded the memorandum to Rabbi Max and directed him to make the necessary meal accommodations for any Jewish inmate wishing to participate.Weber Decl. at ¶ 13. On July 19, 2011, Plaintiff did not receive a meal to break his fast. McDaniel at ¶ 20. On July 20, 2011, Defendant Weber "learned that [Plaintiff] did not receive a meal to break the Fast of Tammuz." Id. at ¶ 14.

Facility chaplains are also responsible for submitting event packets and the list of inmates wishing to participate in a particular fast or religious event that requires special dietary consideration. McDaniel Decl. at ¶ 16. Pursuant to DOCCS rules, event packets are to be submitted to McDaniel's office at least thirty days in advance of such events. Id. On July 19, 2011, McDaniel first became aware of Plaintiff's complaint that he was not provided with a meal to break his fast. Id. at ¶ 18. McDaniel was previously unaware that Jewish inmates were planning to participate in the Fast of Tammuz because she did not receive an event packet or a list of inmates wishing to participate in the fast from Rabbi Max. Id. at ¶ 17. On July 28, 2011, in response to Plaintiff'scomplaint, McDaniel informed Plaintiff that although Rabbi Max informed the mess hall staff of hisparticipation in the fast, he "did not clearly direct staff to provide food for [Plaintiff] to break the fast." Dkt. No. 1-1, Compl. Ex. at p. 8, Tammuz Compl. ...

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