United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Texarkana Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF DISMISSAL
CAROLINE M. CRAVEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Timothy Murphy, a prisoner of the Texas Department of
Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division
(“TDCJ-CID”), filed this civil action complaining
of alleged violations of his constitutional rights. The
parties have consented to allow the undersigned United States
Magistrate Judge to enter final judgment in the proceeding in
accordance with 28 U.S.C. 636(c). The sole named defendant is
Tori Scott, food service manager at the Telford Unit of
statement of claim reads, in its entirety, as follows:
Meat free option, as directed by policy, provides least
restrictive means of observance of my Torah Judaism beliefs
and practices, insofar as diet. Normally, an offender request
to official to a unit kitchen insures provision of meat free
sack meals when meat inclusive sack meals are distributed. I
posted two such, soon after my 01/2016 transfer to this unit.
Such provisions have been in no way met. As recent as
05/2016, Defendant conveyed to laundry supervisor M. Bumdei,
for whom I work, that I would continue to be denied meat free
sack meals, as I have been since 01/18/16, forcing me to
choose between the benefits of my religious convictions and
eating - frequently.
Step Two grievance attached to his complaint, Plaintiff
stated as follows:
Prison Policy 3.01 states that prison units will make
available three (3) non-medical diets: Regular, Pork Free,
and Meat Free.
The Telford Unit inventory makes provisions for peanut butter
sandwiches to be served to Diets For Health with very nearly
every sack meal and cheese sandwiches to those with peanut
allergies. Telford inventory also permits the entire
population a serving of cold cereal one very nearly every day
during extended lockdown periods and prunes, raisins, and/or
dried cherries. Thus, the inventory does in fact include
provisions for the exceedingly few vegetarian practitioners.
As a Jew, the meat free diet option provides me with the
least restrictive means of adhering to kosher food laws
practical [sic] during my period of incarceration, as well as
health-based dietary choices.
The response by Food Service Manager II S. Cullum (and
personal experience by myself) strongly indicate an effort
will be made to provide meat free sack meals of comparable
nutritional and caloric value as meat inclusive sack meals
during distribution of meat inclusive sack meals. I have
been, following the submission of grievance #2016091123,
still under the burden of extortion/coercion by the Food
Service Department of TO Unit to violate my religious beliefs
and personal choice or to not eat by its failure to provide
me with meat free sack meals as stated/defined in
“Action Requested” and jeopardize my health by
means of continued denials of meals (sack).
response to this grievance appeal reads as follows:
An investigation was conducted into your allegations. Food
Services Procedures Manual 19.01 states this was within
policy. Every effort is made when sack meals are provided for
meat free and medical sack meals. No further action is
warranted by this office.
relief, Plaintiff requests an order for the Telford Unit
kitchen to provide him with appropriate food, compensatory
damages in the form of court costs, nominal damages in the
amount of $1.00, and punitive damages of $500.00.
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment
motion for summary judgment (Docket No. 32), Plaintiff
asserts Defendant Scott, food service manager at the Telford
Unit, violated his First Amendment right to free exercise of
religion by failing to provide him with sack meals which are
not prohibited by his religious beliefs. He also invokes the
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
discussing the legal standards set out by RLUIPA and stating
his Jewish faith is recognized by TDCJ-CID, Murphy explains
the proper preparation of kosher meats and states Jewish
tradition includes a tradition of vegetarianism when kosher
meats are unavailable. Plaintiff acknowledges TDCJ-CID policy
makes provisions for meat-free meals and every effort shall
be made to provide meat-free and medical sack meals when sack
meals are provided.
states the response to his grievance no. 20160197007 advised
him if he chose to eat a meat free meal, he should request
one from the officer on the pod. Although the response to
Step One grievance no. 2016178786 quotes Defendant Scott as
stating meat free sack meals are provided when sack meals are
required, Plaintiff notes the response to Step One grievance
no. 2017024440 advised him according to Defendant Scott, he
was not on the list for meat free meals.
argues under RLUIPA, a substantial burden on a person's
exercise of religion may be done only in furtherance of a
compelling governmental interest. He contends no additional
burden would be placed on the food service department to
provide him with a meat-free sack meal because meat-free sack
meals are routinely provided to other prisoners. Plaintiff
maintains the Defendant Scott is not entitled to qualified
immunity because his right to a diet consistent with his
religious beliefs is clearly established under RLUIPA.
summary judgment evidence, Plaintiff attaches three
grievances from the Allred Unit (Docket No. 32-1, pp. 1, 3,
and 9) indicating his name had been submitted for lay-ins to
observe Jewish holy days and prisoners can request meat free
meals from the officer on the pod. He also attaches a
pamphlet concerning kosher foods (Docket No. 32-1, p. 6),
although it is not clear who wrote this pamphlet or where it
also attaches grievance no. 2016091123 (Docket No. 32-1, p.
12) asking about sack meals, to which the response, dated
March 22, 2016, stated information received from Food Service
Manager II S. Cullum revealed the Telford Unit inventory does
not allow for meat free sack meals during lockdowns. In
grievance no. 2016178986 (Docket No. 32-1, p. 16), Plaintiff
complains of sack meals on July 10 and July 17, 2016, when he
was told no meat substitutes were available. The response to
this grievance, dated August 2, 2016, stated according to
Food Service Manager IV Captain Scott, meat free sack meals
are provided when sack meals are required.
grievance no. 2017024440 (Docket No. 32-1, p. 18), Plaintiff
complained on September 9, 2016, the lunch and dinner sack
meals had two meat items, and the distributing officer told
him no meat-free meals had been provided. On September 10,
2016, the dinner meal had two meat items. The distributing
officer told him no meat-free sack meals had been provided.
On September 11, 2016, the lunch and dinner meals consisted
of two meat items. The distributing officer told him no
meat-free sack meals had been provided, and she would not
call for a meat-free diet for him because he was not on the
list for a medical diet. The response to this grievance,
dated November 2, 2016, stated information received from Food
Service Manager Scott revealed he was not on the list for
meat free meals.
Plaintiff attaches a response from Nurse Practitioner Jammie
Barker stating the medical department does not do meat-free
diets, but instead Plaintiff must talk to the chaplain.
(Docket No. 32-1. p. 20). He sent a request to the chaplain
asking if a list was maintained of prisoners whose religious
practices included dietary restrictions, and the response
stated no such ...