United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro
H. MCKINLEY, JR., CHIEF JUDGE.
John Fitzgerald Veach filed the instant pro se 42
U.S.C. § 1983 action proceeding in forma
pauperis. This matter is before the Court on initial
review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons
stated below, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's claims
upon initial screening.
states that he is a convicted inmate at the Henderson County
Detention Center (HCDC). He sues HCDC and two HCDC personnel,
Lt. Wilborn and Deputy Prince, in their individual
statement of the claim, Plaintiff states that he has a
constitutional right to his religious beliefs. He maintains
that Defendants Wilborn and Prince “refused me my
reliogne believes by not giving me my Jewish tray on June, 2,
2017 at 11:30 am . . . .” He states that he told
Defendants Wilborn and Prince that this action violated his
relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages and requests to
be moved to another prison.
prisoner initiates a civil action seeking redress from a
governmental entity, officer, or employee, the trial court
must review the complaint and dismiss the complaint, or any
portion of it, if the court determines that the complaint is
frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. See §
1915A(b)(1), (2); McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d
601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by
Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007).
order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim,
“a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “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. (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556). “[A] district court must (1) view the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and
(2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.”
Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d
478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v.
Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations
omitted)). “But the district court need not accept a
‘bare assertion of legal conclusions.'”
Tackett, 561 F.3d at 488 (quoting Columbia
Natural Res., Inc. v. Tatum, 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th
Cir. 1995)). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and
conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a
complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked
assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual
enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557).
this Court recognizes that pro se pleadings are to
be held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
520-21 (1972); Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110
(6th Cir. 1991), “[o]ur duty to be ‘less
stringent' with pro se complaints does not require us to
conjure up unpled allegations.” McDonald v.
Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979) (citation
omitted). And this Court is not required to create a claim
for Plaintiff. Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life
Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975). To
command otherwise would require the Court “to explore
exhaustively all potential claims of a pro se
plaintiff, [and] would also transform the district court from
its legitimate advisory role to the improper role of an
advocate seeking out the strongest arguments and most
successful strategies for a party.” Beaudett v.
City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).
First Amendment to the United States Constitution states,
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment
of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .
.” U.S. Const. amend. I. The First Amendment protects
an inmate's right to freely exercise his or her religion.
To state a § 1983 First Amendment free-exercise claim, a
plaintiff must show that the prison's actions
“substantially burdened his sincerely-held religious
beliefs.” Barhite v. Caruso, 377 F. App'x
508, 510 (6th Cir. 2010) (citing Boles v. Neet, 486
F.3d. 1177, 1182 (10th Cir. 2002); see also Salahuddin v.
Goord, 467 F.3d 263, 274-75 (2d Cir. 2006) (“The
prisoner must show at the threshold that the disputed conduct
substantially burdens his sincerely held religious
beliefs.”). A one-time interference with the free
exercise of religion is not sufficient to give rise to a
constitutional violation. See Talley v. Womack, No.
1:12CV-P208-M, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67442, at *5 (W.D. Ky.
May 13, 2013); Greenberg v. Hill, No. 2:07-CV-1076,
2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28027, at *6 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 31, 2009)
(“[I]solated or sporadic government action or omission
is de minimis and does not constitute a ‘substantial
burden.'”); Cancel v. Mazzuca, 205
F.Supp.2d 128, 142 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) (finding that an
“isolated denial, such as having to miss a single
religious service, does not constitute a substantial burden
on a prisoner's right to practice his religion”).
Likewise, a single incident of missing a meal is not
sufficient to state a constitutional violation. Shakur
Ali Abdullah Al-Amin v. TDOC Comm'r, No.
3:12-cv-249, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51442, at *13 (M.D. Tenn.
April 11, 2012) (“[C]ourts have denied claims that
missing a single meal violates the free exercise of
religion.”) (citing Bell v. Dretke, No.
G-04-530, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89380, at *2 (S.D. Tex. Nov.
21, 2006)); see also White v. Glantz, No. 92-5169,
1993 U.S. App. LEXIS 4189, at *4 (10th Cir. Feb. 25, 1993)
(single instance of not receiving religious-appropriate meal
did not violate the First Amendment); Marr v. Case,
No. 1:07-cv-823, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4427, at *16 (W.D.
Mich. Jan.18, 2008) (missing a single meal does not rise to
the level of a constitutional violation). Therefore,
Plaintiffs allegation that he was denied a religious food
tray on one occasion is not sufficient to state a violation
of the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause.
foregoing reasons, the Court finds that the complaint fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and ...