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Dawdy v. Allen

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division

February 21, 2018

CRAIG DAWDY, Plaintiff,
LARRY ALLEN, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court upon initial review following plaintiff's filing of his amended complaint.[1] After reviewing the amended complaint, the Court will partially dismiss the complaint and will order the Clerk to issue process or cause process to be issued on the non-frivolous portions of the complaint.

         Legal Standard

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court is required to dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To state a claim for relief, a complaint must plead more than “legal conclusions” and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere conclusory statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, which is more than a “mere possibility of misconduct.” Id. at 679. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 678. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679.

         When reviewing a complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court accepts the well-pled facts as true. Furthermore, the Court liberally construes the allegations.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff, an inmate at Northeast Correctional Center (“NECC”), brings this action against fourteen prison officials and food service staff at the Missouri Department of Corrections (“MDOC”) and NECC, seeking monetary, declaratory, and injunctive relief pursuant to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000cc, et seq. (“RLUIPA”), and under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has named as defendants in both their individual and official capacities: Larry Allen (Food Service Manager, NECC); Troy Bartley (Food Service Coordinator, MDOC); Sheri Brothers (Business Office Manager, NECC); Travis Case (Canteen Manager, NECC); Alan Earls (Deputy Division Director, Missouri Adult Institutions); Chantay Godert (Assistant Warden, NECC); Richard Griggs (Assistant Warden, NECC); James Hurley (Warden, NECC); William Jones (Deputy Warden, NECC); Gil Long (Central Canteen Manager, MDOC); Shelly Orf (Food Service Secretary, NECC); Murry Phillips (Chaplain, NECC); Anne L. Precythe (Director, MDOC); and Renee Wombles (Captain Corrections Officer III, NECC).

         Certified Religious Diet Meals on Sabbath, High Holy Days, and Passover

         Plaintiff first claims that the certified religious diet (“CRD”) kosher meals prepared by NECC violate Jewish dietary laws on the Sabbath, High Holy Days, and during Passover. Plaintiff states that the CRD meals would need to include grape juice, matzo, fish and meat items on the Sabbath, High Holy Days, and during Passover to conform to Jewish dietary laws. Plaintiff refers to these items as ritual kosher food items. Further, the NECC canteen does not sell kosher grape juice, matzo, or any kosher meat item, and therefore plaintiff has no means to abide by his Jewish dietary laws on the Sabbath, High Holy Days, and during Passover. Plaintiff states Jewish offenders are served peanut butter in the CRD kosher meals during Passover, which is strictly prohibited under Jewish dietary law, and none of the items served to Jewish offenders during Passover are labeled as “Kosher Passover.”

         Additionally, to qualify for kosher meals on the Sabbath, High Holy Days, and during Passover, NECC requires offenders to adhere to the daily kosher dietary law. Offenders are not allowed to engage in dietary restrictions under their religion only on the Sabbath, High Holy Days, and during Passover. In contrast to the treatment of Jewish offenders, plaintiff states Muslim offenders are not required to be receiving daily CRD Muslim meals to participate in Ramadan services. He states these groups are provided their religious dietary meals every evening and morning during Ramadan.

         Retaliation-Allegations Against Defendant Larry Allen

         On October 25, 2016, plaintiff alleges he was retaliated against by defendant Larry Allen for practicing his kosher diet. He states he was removed from the CRD kosher diet for purchasing pinto beans at the canteen. Plaintiff states the pinto beans were marked with the kosher symbol, but apparently had not been placed on the canteen's approved list for the kosher diet. Defendant Allan had plaintiff removed from his CRD kosher diet.

         On November 4, 2016, plaintiff was reprimanded by defendant Chaplain Phillips for buying mustard fish steak from the NECC canteen. Plaintiff advised Mr. Phillips that the mustard fish steaks had been on the CRD kosher approved list from 2014 and were marked kosher. Defendant Allen and his secretary defendant Shelly Orf submitted a CRD non-compliance form and had plaintiff removed from the CRD meals. On November 14, 2016, plaintiff received notice from Deputy Warden Jones that he was being removed from his CRD kosher meals for six months for purchasing the mustard fish steaks.

         Plaintiff states defendants Griggs, Hurley, and Earls refuse to contract with a kosher vendor, and rely on the vendor purchase invoice (i.e., not the product labeling) to determine whether an item is kosher. This allows them to remove plaintiff from the CRD kosher meal program even when plaintiff is not violating his kosher diet.

         Allegations Against Defendants Sheri Brothers and Renee Wombles

         Plaintiff alleges defendant Sheri Brothers, NECC's Business Manager, misappropriated offender chapel funds that had been approved for purchasing romaine lettuce for plaintiff's seder service on April 10, 2017. He alleges this was a deliberate act of discrimination against plaintiff for practicing his religious faith. He claims Ms. Brothers provided funds to Christians, Muslins, and Native Americans, but not to Jewish offenders.

         Plaintiff alleges Captain Renee Wombles cancelled plaintiff's seder service on April 11, 2017 and refused to allow plaintiff to access the NECC chapel for the prescheduled service.

         MDOC's Policy Regarding a Religious Community

         Plaintiff alleges defendants Precythe, Earls, Hurley, Jones, Godert, Griggs, and Chaplain Phillips have created a MDOC policy mandating at least five offenders must attend any religious service or Torah study group to qualify as a religious community. Plaintiff states this policy prevents him from holding meetings for three to four Jewish offenders. Also, his Jewish community does not qualify to use the money in the inmate canteen fund to purchase Jewish materials under Missouri Revised Statute § 217.195.

         Section 217.195 allows for the creation of an inmate canteen fund at each correctional center. These funds are to be used for “the benefit of the offenders in the improvement of recreational, religious, or educational services.” Plaintiff states that NECC's Christian and Muslim communities have access to these funds, but because of how MDOC defines a “religious community, ” his small Jewish community does not have access to these funds.


         Plaintiff brings his amended complaint in nine counts, many of which have overlapping factual and legal allegations. For purposes of initial review, the Court will evaluate plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims and his RLUIPA claims separately.

         I. Plaintiff's Claims Brought Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983

         A. Plaintiff's ...

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