Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Andrews v. Moore

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division

March 26, 2018

JOHN A. ANDREWS, Plaintiff,
v.
D. MOORE and C. BARRETT, Defendants.

          ORDER

          TIMOTHY J. CORRIGAN, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff, an inmate of the Florida penal system, is proceeding on a pro se Civil Rights Complaint (Doc. 1) (Complaint), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges Defendants, D. Moore and C. Barrett, Chaplains at Hamilton Correctional Institution, violated his First Amendment right to freely exercise his religion when he was temporarily suspended from the Religious Diet Program (RDP). Complaint at 5-6.

         Before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 30) (Motion), including exhibits (Def. Ex.). The Court previously advised Plaintiff of the provisions of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, notified him that the granting of a motion for summary judgment may foreclose subsequent litigation on the matter, and gave him an opportunity to file a response to Defendants' Motion. See Order (Doc. 11). Plaintiff filed a Response to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 36) (Response), including exhibits (Pl. Ex.). Plaintiff also filed a “Truth Affidavit” in support of his Response (Doc. 35) (Pl. Affidavit). The Motion is ripe for review.

         I. Summary of Parties' Positions & Relevant Facts

         A. Plaintiff's Sworn Allegations[1] and Exhibits

         According to Plaintiff, on April 9, 2015, Defendants Moore and Barrett suspended him from the RDP “with no facts or proof, ” other than to state that Plaintiff was unable to manage his religious diet “consistent with institution safety or security.” Complaint at 5. Plaintiff alleges he is a Messianic Jew who keeps kosher and believes non-kosher, unclean foods damage his physical and spiritual well-being. Id. at 6. Plaintiff supports his Complaint with exhibits. The first contains the first page of the RDP procedures and seven letters he received from legal offices declining to represent him in this action (Doc. 1-1) (Compl. Ex. 1). The second contains a Notice of Violation, dated April 9, 2015, signed by Defendant Barrett, and various grievances he filed, with responses, following his suspension (Doc. 1-2) (Compl. Ex. 2). As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Complaint at 6-7.

         B. Defendants' Motion and Exhibits

         Defendants argue that “the undisputed facts . . . demonstrate that Plaintiff was suspended from the religious diet program after he was found to be improperly possessing food from the chow hall.” Motion at 4. Defendants support their Motion with department forms documenting the suspension, unsworn declarations, and Plaintiff's deposition testimony (Motion Exs.).[2] According to the Department Corrective Consultation form, dated April 8, 2015, P. Whitmer held a corrective consultation with Plaintiff because Plaintiff “was in possession of butter, jelly and salad dressing brought out of the chow hall from CFO menu” (Doc. 30-2) (Motion Ex. B). Whitmer noted in the line for the “inmate's signature” that Plaintiff refused to sign the form. According to the department stamp on the form, it was received on April 9, 2015.[3] See Motion Ex. B.

         The unsworn declarations are provided by Defendant Moore (Doc. 30-6) (Motion Ex. F), Defendant Barrett (Doc. 30-5) (Motion Ex. E), and Barrow Beauchamp, Director of the RDP (Doc. 30-4) (Motion Ex. D). Beauchamp, citing the RDP procedures, states that Plaintiff “was found to be leaving the chow hall with food in his possession, which is a violation of the rules covering all inmates . . . . Inmates are not allowed to leave the chow hall with any food they have received due to concerns that the food will then be bartered or sold which creates a multitude of concerns.” Motion. Ex. D at 1.

         The RDP procedures, attached in support of Beauchamp's declaration, see Notice of Filing (Docs. 31; 31-1) (RDP Procedures), provide that “[i]t is the policy of the Department of Corrections to afford inmates a reasonable opportunity to observe their religious diet preferences by offering a RDP within the constraints of budget limitations and the security and orderly running of Department of Corrections' institutions in accordance with this procedure.” RDP Procedures at 2. The RDP provides three options: (1) a no-meat alternative; (2) a vegan alternative; and (3) a religious diet alternative, which “accommodates religious diet needs through prepackaged meals and/or prepackaged food items, ” referred to as the CFO (certified food option). Id.

         Inmates who participate in the CFO are held accountable for adhering to the religious diet menu. They are not permitted to purchase, possess, or consume food items not consistent with the CFO standards, “regardless of the source of the food.” Id. at 5. Disciplinary action, including suspension, will result from bartering with CFO food items and for the unauthorized “possession of CFO food items or CFO supplies.” Id. The procedures further provide that “[i]nmates participating in the CFO will be prohibited from consuming food from the regular food line, other special diets, or any food item from the canteen that is not certified Kosher.” Id. Non-compliance with the RDP results in a “Notice of Violation, ” which must be sent to the inmate for an opportunity to respond.[4] The Chaplain then makes a determination whether the inmate should be suspended or counseled depending on the circumstances. Id. at 6.

         In their unsworn declarations, Defendants and Beauchamp assert that Plaintiff's suspension was valid, though they acknowledge that Barrett did not correctly complete the Notice of Violation form (Doc. 30-3) (Motion Ex. C), resulting in a “technical error” that allowed Plaintiff to successfully appeal the suspension. See Motion Exs. D, E, F. The Notice of Violation form includes three potential reasons for suspension from the RDP. See Motion Ex. C. The staff member completing the form must “check” the appropriate reason. The Notice of Violation form indicated Plaintiff was suspended because he was “unable to manage the religious diet in a manner consistent with institutional safety or security.” See Motion Ex. C. In this instance, Defendants acknowledge Barrett should have indicated Plaintiff was suspended because he had “been found to have bartered, stolen, or improperly possessed food from the CFO meals.” See Motion Exs. D, E, F. Defendants and Beauchamp also concede Part D of the form should have included “further details” supporting the reason for the suspension. See id. They all maintain Plaintiff's “suspension was overturned only because of the technical errors found on the suspension notice.” See id.

         Defendants also assert that a grievance Plaintiff submitted in support of his Complaint confirms the legitimacy of his violation and suspension. See Motion at 4; Compl. Ex. B at 17. In that grievance, dated April 13, 2015, Plaintiff did not deny he violated the RDP. Rather, he disagreed with the Department's policy that resulted in a suspension from the program, maintaining that the religious diet program is a right, not a privilege. Compl. Ex. B at 17. While admittedly somewhat difficult to decipher, it appears Plaintiff disagreed with the characterization that he was suspended because he was unable to manage his religious diet when he was actually suspended after he was “patted down coming out of the chow hall.” See id. He stated that the “one does not have anything to do with the other.” See id. Plaintiff's grievance was denied with an explanation that the CFO is a not a right but a privilege, and Plaintiff signed up for it understanding that a violation can result in suspension.[5]

         Defendants argue Plaintiff is not entitled to compensatory or punitive damages because he has not sustained a physical injury, relying on Plaintiff's deposition testimony that his injury is spiritual rather than physical. Motion at 8-9; Motion Ex. H at 5-6. Defendants assert that Plaintiff is not entitled to nominal damages because he did not request them, and they maintain they are protected by qualified immunity. Motion at 9, 10. Defendant Moore seeks summary judgment in his favor because he was not personally involved in Plaintiff's suspension and Plaintiff has sued him solely with respect to his role as a supervisor. Id. at 5-6.

         C. Plaintiff's Response

         In his Response, Plaintiff states that he does not confess “to taking CFO food out of the chow hall, but just having condiments in [his] cell.” See Response at 2. In further explanation, he provides:

Now the Plaintiff is going to explain how I came to possess the condiments which are not exclusive to CFO. Butter, Jelly, and Salad dressing are common possessions. I do not have to take a risk of bringing anything out from C.F.O. Condiment's [sic] are widely available at Hamilton Correctional Institution, through canteen, regular chow hall as well as C.F.O. The origins of the condiments in question has never been proven to be ascertained. Where is the ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.