United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE
Calvin Lee Goddard is an inmate confined at the Federal
Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky
(“FMC-Lexington”). Proceeding without counsel,
Goddard filed a civil rights complaint asserting claims under
28 U.S.C. § 1331, pursuant to the doctrine announced in
Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403
U.S. 388 (1971), the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of
1993 (RFRA), 107 Stat. 1488, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb-1 to -4,
and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
(RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1 (2000). [R. 1]. After
initial screening of his Complaint by the Court [R. 21],
Goddard's remaining claims allege that Defendants Nick
Alexakos, Thomas Caldwell, Dave Carpenter, Jose Jiminez, J.G.
Hallock, S. Lovett, Francisco Quintana, Chaplain Ortiz,
Officer Mundy, S. Kern and PLP (collectively,
“Defendants”) have violated the RFRA and the
RLUIPA. Also remaining are Goddard's retaliation and free
exercise claims under the First Amendment. Goddard is seeking
monetary damages and injunctive relief in the form of an
order that “a service be granted to The Way on Sundays
comparable to other religions being allowed two hour
services.” [R. 1 at p. 22].
have filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for
summary judgment. [R. 36]. Goddard has filed a response [R.
38] and Defendants have filed a reply [R. 42]. Thus, this
matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for
review.[1" name="FN1" id=
"FN1">1] Also pending before the Court are
Goddard's motion to appoint counsel for discovery [R. 44]
and a motion for discovery [R. 45], which he claims are
necessary in light of the motion to dismiss and, in the
alternative, motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants,
as well as Goddard's motion for preliminary injunction.
reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendants'
motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary
judgment [R. 36] and dismiss Goddard's claims.
to Goddard, he is a member of “The Way, ” which
he describes as a non-Protestant Christian religion. [R. 1,
1-1]. Goddard claims that, while officials at FMC-Lexington
allow other religious groups to access and hold their
services at the prison's chapel, the officials have
prevented members of The Way from worshipping as a group at
the chapel. [R. 1 at p. 13-14]. While Goddard acknowledges
that the prison offers general Christian services, he argues
that those services are Protestant in nature, and he
repeatedly emphasizes that he is not a Protestant. Indeed,
throughout these proceedings, Goddard had gone to great
lengths to distinguish his own faith from what he claims are
the beliefs of Protestants. Specifically, he objects to the
participation of homosexual inmates and Catholic inmates in
the general Christian services, the use of overhead music,
and the celebration of holidays. [R. 1 at p. 12, 14-16].
Goddard repeatedly claims that only followers of The Way are
“True Christians” and that, although other
religions (including what he identifies as Protestants)
“claim to be Christian, they are not actually
Christian, they are simply denominations that believe in
Christ.” [R. 1 at p. 11-12]. Based on his
characterization that only followers of The Way are
“true” Christians, he argues that the BOP's
policies are “diametrically opposed to
Christianity.” [R. 1 at p. 13, 14].
sure, Goddard's lengthy complaint, numerous attachments
and related amendments, as well as his 66-page response to
Defendants' motion, touch on a plethora of issues,
including the differences between the beliefs of The Way and
“Protestant” religions, Goddard's suspicions
regarding the beliefs and motivations of the BOP and prison
officials, and Goddard's dissatisfaction with the general
Christian Sunday service and with the BOP's
administrative remedy process. However, as indicated by the
Court's screening Order [R. 21], the only remaining
claims before the Court are his claims that Defendants are
improperly interfering with his rights under the free
exercise clause of First Amendment, the RFRA, and the RLUIPA
by failing to allow The Way to have access to and hold their
own services in the prison's chapel and that Defendants
have retaliated against him for exercising his First
motion [R. 36] argues that Goddard's remaining claims
should be dismissed because: (1) Goddard has failed to
exhaust his administrative remedies, as required by the
Prison Litigation Reform Act; (2) Goddard has failed to state
a claim under the RLUIPA; (3) Goddard has failed to state a
claim under the RFRA; (4) Goddard has failed to state a free
exercise claim under the First Amendment; (5) Goddard has
failed to state a retaliation claim; and (6) Defendants are
entitled to qualified immunity. In the alternative,
Defendants argue that they are entitled to summary judgment
on all of Goddard's claims.
Standard of Review
motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) tests the
sufficiency of the plaintiff's complaint. Gardner v.
Quicken Loans, Inc., 567 F. App'x 362, 364 (6th Cir.
addressing a motion to dismiss, the Court views the complaint
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and accepts as
true all ‘well-pleaded facts' in the complaint.
D'Ambrosio v. Marino, 747 F.3d 378, 383 (6th
Cir. 2014). Because the plaintiff here is proceeding without
the benefit of an attorney, the Court reads his complaint to
include all fairly and reasonably inferred claims. Davis
v. Prison Health Servs., 679 F.3d 433, 437-38 (6th Cir.
2012). In ruling on the motion to dismiss, the Court may also
consider the documents attached to Goddard's complaint.
Cates v. Crystal Clear Techs., LLC, 874 F.3d 530,
536 (6th Cir. 2017).
Defendants moved both to dismiss and for summary judgment,
attaching and relying upon declarations extrinsic to the
pleadings in support of their motion. [R. 36]. Thus, the
Court will treat Defendants' motion to dismiss the
complaint as a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); Wysocki v. Int'l Bus. Mach.
Corp., 1102');">607 F.3d 1102, 1104 (6th Cir. 2010). See also
Ball v. Union Carbide Corp., 13');">385 F.3d 713, 719 (6th Cir.
2004) (where defendant moves both to dismiss and for summary
judgment, plaintiff is on notice that summary judgment is
being requested, and the court's consideration as such is
appropriate where the nonmovant submits documents and
affidavits in opposition to summary judgment).
motion under Rule 56 challenges the viability of another
party's claim by asserting that at least one essential
element of that claim is not supported by legally-sufficient
evidence. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 17');">477 U.S. 317, 324-25 (1986). A party moving for
summary judgment must establish that, even viewing the record
in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the party is
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Loyd v. St.
Joseph Mercy Oakland, 766 F.3d 580, 588 (6th Cir. 2014).
Court reviews all of the evidence presented by the parties in
a light most favorable to the responding party, with the
benefit of any reasonable factual inferences which can be
drawn in his favor. Harbin-Bey v. Rutter, 420 F.3d
571, 575 (6th Cir. 2005). If the responding party's
allegations are so clearly contradicted by the record that no
reasonable jury could adopt them, the court need not accept
them when determining whether summary judgment is warranted.
Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). The Court
must grant summary judgment if the evidence would not support
a jury verdict for the responding party with respect to at
least one essential element of his claim. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251 (1986). If the
applicable substantive law requires the responding party to
meet a higher burden of proof, his evidence must be
sufficient to sustain a jury's verdict in his favor in
light of that heightened burden of proof at trial. Harvey
v. Hollenback, 113 F.3d 639');">113 F.3d 639, 642 (6th Cir. 1997);
Moore, Owen, Thomas & Co. v. Coffey, 992 F.2d
1439, 1444 (6th Cir. 1993).
Motion for Discovery and Motion to Appoint Counsel
turning to the merits of Defendants' motion, the Court
will address Goddard's motion for discovery pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d) [R. 45] and his motion to appoint counsel
to assist with taking discovery. [R. 44]. Rule 56(d) states
(d) When Facts Are Unavailable to the
Nonmovant. If a nonmovant shows by affidavit or
declaration that, for specified reasons, it cannot present
facts essential to justify its opposition, the court may:
(1) defer considering the motion or deny it;
(2) allow time to obtain affidavits or
declarations or to take discovery; or
(3) issue any other appropriate order
Civ. P. 56(d).
trial court's allowance of additional discovery under
Rule 56(d) (formerly Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(f)) is discretionary.
Egerer v. Woodland Realty, Inc., 15');">556 F.3d 415, 426
(6th Cir. 2009). “The affidavit required by Rule 56(f)
to support a request for additional discovery must indicate
the need for discovery, what material facts may be uncovered,
and why the information has not been previously
discovered.” Id. (citations omitted). As the
Sixth Circuit has explained:
It is not an abuse of discretion for the district court to
deny the discovery request when the party “makes only
general and conclusory statements [in its affidavit]
regarding the need for more discovery and does not show how
an extension of time would have allowed information related
to the truth or falsity of the [document] to be
discovered.” Ironside v. Simi Valley Hosp.,
188 F.3d 350');">188 F.3d 350, 354 (6th Cir.1999). It is also not an abuse of
discretion to reject a Rule 56(f) affidavit as insufficient
to support further discovery when the affidavit lacks
“any details” or “specificity.”
Emmons v. McLaughlin, 1');">874 F.2d 351, 357 (6th
Ball v. Union Carbide Corp., 13');">385 F.3d 713, 720 (6th
motion, Goddard identifies a list of topics on which he would
like to take discovery, but does not offer any explanation as
to how any of this information is necessary for him to
present facts essential to justify his opposition to
Defendants' motion for summary judgment. In the
“affidavit” submitted in support of his motion,
Goddard states: “I need this information to show that
the Government has formed its own brand of Religion,
identified it as Protestant, has removed any designation as a
Christian, and prohibited any religious activity outside the
governmental ‘watchful eye.'” [R. 45-1].
However, Goddard fails to explain how the information that he
claims to be seeking is relevant to the legal questions
raised by Defendants' motion for summary judgment.
Accordingly, he has failed to show that he cannot oppose
Defendants' motion without taking the discovery he
proposes. United States v. One Harrington &
Richardson Rifle, 378 F.3d 533, 535 (6th Cir. 2004)(the
affidavit must detail the discovery needed and demonstrate
specific reasons why the non-movant cannot oppose the summary
judgment motion without additional discovery).
Goddard's claimed “need” for this information
in order to adequately respond to Defendants' motion is
dubious, as he waited nearly six weeks after filing a 66-page
response to Defendants' motion [R. 38, filed on September
13, 2017] to file his motion seeking discovery [R. 45, filed
on October 24, 2017]. In fact, at no point in his lengthy
response does Goddard indicate that he could not respond to
any the arguments set forth by Defendants because he had not
taken discovery. For both of these reasons, the Court will
deny Goddard's motion for discovery [R. 45], as well as
motion to appoint counsel to take this requested discovery
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
first argue that Goddard's complaint must be dismissed
because of his failure to properly exhaust his administrative
remedies before filing this lawsuit as required by federal
law. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995
(“PLRA”), a prisoner may not bring an action
under federal law with respect to prison conditions until all
available administrative remedies are exhausted. 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e(a); Jones v. Bock, 199');">549 U.S. 199, 211
(2007) (“There is no question that exhaustion is
mandatory under the PLRA and that unexhausted claims cannot
be brought in court.”). Requiring exhaustion of
remedies available within the agency whose actions are being
challenged preserves the agency's administrative
authority by providing the agency with “an opportunity
to correct its own mistakes with respect to the programs it
administers before it is haled into federal court.”
Woodford v. Ngo, 1');">548 U.S. 81, 89 (2006). A
prospective litigant must present their claim for relief in
such a manner to “give the agency a fair and full
opportunity to adjudicate their claims...” Id.
BOP's Inmate Grievance System requires a federal prisoner
to first seek informal resolution of any issue with staff,
and then to institute a formal grievance with the warden
within twenty days. 28 C.F.R. §§ 542.13, 542.14(a).
If the prisoner is not satisfied with the warden's
response, he or she must appeal to the appropriate regional
office within twenty days, and if unsatisfied with that
response, to the General Counsel within thirty days
thereafter. 28 C.F.R. § 542.15(a). See BOP
Program Statement 1300.16. Because “[p]roper exhaustion
demands compliance with an agency's deadlines and other
critical procedural rules..., ” Woodford, 548
U.S. at 90, the prisoner must file the initial grievance and
any appeals within these time frames.
Sixth Circuit has made clear that a prisoner must take each
of these steps and complete the entire prison grievance
process before filing suit:
While we recognize that plaintiff made some attempts to go
through the prison's grievance procedures, we must
dismiss plaintiff's complaint because he filed his
federal complaint before allowing the administrative process
to be completed. The plain language of the statute makes
exhaustion a precondition to filing an action in federal
court...The prisoner, ...