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Scott v. St. Charles County

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

October 23, 2019

LYWAYNE MARQUIS SCOTT, Plaintiff,
v.
ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          ABBIE CRITES-LEONI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant St. Charles County's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 15.) For the following reasons, the Court will grant Defendant's Motion.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Lywayne Marquis Scott brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C. § 20000cc, alleging various violations of his civil rights. (Doc. 1.) He named St. Charles County, Missouri, as well as four individual St. Charles County officials as Defendants. Scott was an inmate at the St. Charles County Adult Correctional Facility (“Jail”) at the time of the incidents at issue and at the time he filed his Complaint.

         The Court dismissed the individual Defendants and many of Scott's claims as frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). (Doc. 7.) The only claim remaining is the RLUIPA claim against Defendant St. Charles County.

         Scott alleges that he is a Hindu and, as part of his religion, he cannot consume any meat. He claims that when he arrived at the Jail on September 28, 2017, he informed unnamed booking officers and Nurse Jessica Richards that he could not consume meat as a “practicing Hindu, ” and that he desired a complete vegetarian diet. Scott alleges that he was told by an unnamed person at the Jail that the Jail does not make “religious accommodations.” Scott claims that after he was placed in general population, his subsequent requests for a vegetarian diet were denied, forcing him to choose between his religious practice or meals that did not accommodate his religious practice. Scott brings a RLUIPA claim for injunctive relief against St. Charles County for allegedly placing a burden on his ability to exercise his religion in the Jail.

         Defendant St. Charles County has moved for summary judgment on Scott's Complaint on the basis that Scott's cause of action is moot. Specifically, Defendant states that Scott was transferred from the Jail and is no longer subject to the policies he claims were a violation of RLUIPA. Scott has not filed a Response, and the time for doing so has expired.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), a district court may grant a motion for summary judgment if all of the information before the court demonstrates that “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The burden is on the moving party. City of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa v. Associated Elec. Co-op. Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273 (8th Cir. 1988). After the moving party discharges this burden, the nonmoving party must do more than show that there is some doubt as to the facts. Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact is not the “mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties.” Lawrence, 358 F.3d 982, 985 (8th Cir. 2004). “Instead, the dispute must be outcome determinative under prevailing law.” Mosley v. City of Northwoods, 415 F.3d 908, 910-11 (8th Cir. 2005) (internal quotations omitted). A fact is material when it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         The nonmoving party bears the burden of setting forth specific facts showing that there is sufficient evidence in his favor to allow a jury to return a verdict for him. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249; Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. “If ‘opposing parties tell two different stories,' the court must review the record, determine which facts are material and genuinely disputed, and then view those facts in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party - as long as those facts are not ‘so blatantly contradicted by the record . . . that no reasonable jury could believe' them.” Reed v. City of St. Charles, Mo., 561 F.3d 788, 790 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007)). Self-serving, conclusory statements without support are not sufficient to defeat summary judgment. Armour and Co., Inc. v. Inver Grove Heights, 2 F.3d 276, 279 (8th Cir. 1993).

         In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must review the facts in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party and give that party the benefit of any inferences that logically can be drawn from those facts. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587; Woods v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 409 F.3d 984, 990 (8th Cir. 2005). The Court may not “weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. The court is required, however, to resolve all conflicts of evidence in favor of the nonmoving party. Robert Johnson Grain Co. v. Chemical Interchange Co., 541 F.2d 207, 210 (8th Cir. 1976).

         The movant's statement of facts are deemed admitted if not specifically controverted by the party opposing the motion. Local Rule 4.01(E) provides:

A memorandum in support of a motion for summary judgment shall have attached a statement of uncontroverted material facts, set forth in a separately numbered paragraph for each fact, indicating whether each fact is established by the record, and if so, the appropriate citations. Every memorandum in opposition shall include a statement of material facts as to which the party contends a genuine issue exists. Those matters in dispute shall be set forth with specific references to portions of the record, where available, upon which the opposing party relies. The opposing party also shall note for all disputed facts the paragraph number from movant's listing of facts. All matters set forth in the statement of the movant shall be deemed admitted for purposes of summary judgment unless specifically controverted by the opposing party.

(emphasis added). Even so, where a plaintiff fails to respond to a motion for summary judgment, the Court should not treat such a non-response as sufficient to dispose of the motion. Lowry v. Powerscreen USB, Inc.,72 F.Supp.2d 1061, 1064 (E.D. Mo. 1999) (citing Canada v. Union Electric Co.,135 F.3d 1211, 1213 (8th Cir. 1997)). “Courts should proceed to examine those portions of the record properly before them and decide for themselves whether the motion is well taken.” Id. “In so ruling, even on an unopposed motion for summary ...


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