United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.
November 16, 2017, the plaintiff, Ian Wright, an inmate
currently confined at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center
(“Corrigan”) in Uncasville, Connecticut, brought
a civil action pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against Chief of Food Services Michael Bibens, District Food
Service Manager Testa, Food Production Manager John/Jane Doe,
Food Service Supervisor Kulp, Food Service Supervisor
Jackson, and Commissioner of Correction Scott Semple, all of
whom are employees of the Connecticut Department of
Correction (“DOC”). The plaintiff is suing all
six defendants in their individual and official capacities
for violating his rights under the First and Eighth
Amendments to the United States Constitution and the
Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. §§
2000bb et seq. (“RFRA”). He seeks monetary,
injunctive, and declaratory relief. On January 25, 2018, this
court granted his motion to proceed in forma
pauperis. See Order (ECF No. 12). For the
following reasons, his complaint is dismissed without
Relevant Legal Principles
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review prisoner civil
complaints and dismiss any portion of the complaint that is
frivolous or malicious, that fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Although
detailed allegations are not required, the complaint must
include sufficient facts to afford the defendants fair notice
of the claims and the grounds upon which they are based and
to demonstrate a right to relief. Bell Atlantic v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Conclusory
allegations are not sufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The plaintiff must plead
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic, 550
U.S. at 570. “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.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Nevertheless, it is
well-established that “[p]ro se
complaints ‘must be construed liberally and interpreted
to raise the strongest arguments that they
suggest.'” Sykes v. Bank of Am., 723 F.3d
399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Triestman v. Fed. Bureau
of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see
also Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir.
2010) (discussing special rules of solicitude for pro
plaintiff is a member of the Rastafarian religion and has
been incarcerated since 2000. Compl. ¶ 17. The religion
requires its practitioners to be vegetarians. Id.
When he began his incarceration in 2000, the plaintiff was
approved to receive “common-fare meals” under DOC
Administrative Directive 10.18(3)(A). Id. at
¶¶ 6-7, 17. A common-fare meal is a diet
“which meets all nutritional requirements and
reasonably accommodates recognized religious dietary
restrictions.” Id. at ¶ 9.
September 22, 2017, the plaintiff was transferred from
Cheshire Correctional Institution to Corrigan. Compl. ¶
19. Upon arrival, the plaintiff informed Corrigan staff that
he had been approved to receive common-fare meals because of
his religious dietary restrictions and would like to continue
to receive such meals while at Corrigan. Id.
Thereafter, the plaintiff was escorted to the A-Unit at
Corrigan. Id. at ¶ 20.
next day, during meal time, the plaintiff was served a
regular diet tray by “prison officials.” Compl.
¶ 21. The plaintiff refused the meal and explained to
the officials that he was supposed to receive a common-fare
meal. Id. The plaintiff was denied common-fare meals
that day. Id. He instructed the on-shift
correctional officer to contact the kitchen supervisor and
inform him or her of the issue regarding his common-fare
meals. Id. at ¶ 22. The officers contacted the
supervisor, but the supervisor informed them that the
plaintiff was not on the common-fare meal list and was not
approved to receive a common-fare meal. Id.
plaintiff continued to refuse regular meals from September 23
to September 26 and was never served a common-fare meal.
Compl. ¶ 23. On September 29 (or September 24, the
handwriting suggests it could be either), the plaintiff spoke
with defendant Jackson, who informed the plaintiff that he
was not on the approved list to receive common-fare meals.
Id. at ¶ 24. The plaintiff also sent a written
Inmate Request Form explaining his need to receive
common-fare meals. Id. at ¶ 27. Defendant Kulp
responded to the request, stating that he had added the
plaintiff to the common-fare meal list. Id. Kulp
requested that the plaintiff inform him of any issues
thereafter regarding his meals. Id.
point, the plaintiff was evaluated by medical staff at
Corrigan regarding his request for treatment sent on
September 23, 2017, which had complained of dizziness due to
not eating. Compl. ¶ 29. His evaluation showed that he
had lost eight pounds since the last time he was weighed.
plaintiff claims that the defendants violated his rights
under the First and Eighth Amendments and RFRA by denying him
common-fare meals from September 23 to September 26, 2017.
The United States Supreme Court has held that RFRA is
unconstitutional as applied to States. City of Boerne v.
Flores, 521 U.S. 507, 519 (1997). It applies only to the
federal government and its officers. Sossamon v.
Texas, 563 U.S. 277, 281 (2011). Therefore, the
plaintiff cannot sue the defendants, all state employees,
respect to his constitutional claims, the plaintiff has
failed to allege how each defendant was personally involved
in the actions that gave rise to his claims. It also appears
from the complaint that he has since been placed on the
common-fare meal list and, thus, his requests for declaratory
and injunctive relief also fail.