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Young v. Humphrey

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro

April 15, 2019



          Joseph H. McKinley Jr., United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Jeffrey Scott Young filed the instant pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter is before the Court on initial review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons stated below, the Court will dismiss the complaint.


         Plaintiff is a convicted inmate at the Daviess County Detention Center (DCDC). He sues the following three DCDC employees: Sgt. Humphrey and Corrections Officers Brandon Alvey and Wayne Renfrow. He sues Defendants in their individual and official capacities.

         Plaintiff states that he was asleep when the three named Defendants came into his cell “telling everybody to get up, and not use the bathroom, and line up out in the hallway, and don't grab nothing.” He asserts, “I was about to wake up and do my muslim pray (Salah), and read my Quran. They told me that I couldn't grab my Quran, or my rug, to study. They told me that I couldn't. They are discrimated my religion, & belief.” He continues, “They also refuse to let me go to the bathroom to use it.” He further states, “Also they have state, and county inmates in the same cell, & if a state inmate fights an county inmate then the county inmates can sue, and these people got state inmates on floor, and not bunks, or boats.”

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages and expungement of his record.


         When a 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).

         In 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).


         A. Denial of religious exercise

         The 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 Fed.Appx. 508, 510 (6th Cir. 2010) (citing Boles v. Neet, 486 F.3d. 1177, 1182 (10th Cir. 2002)). An isolated interference with the free exercise of religion by not allowing a daily religious observation on one occasion does not give rise to a constitutional violation. Colvin v. Caruso, 605 F.3d 282, 293 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding that isolated incidents in which a prisoner was mistakenly served non-kosher food were insufficient to state a First Amendment claim); see also Gunn v. Ky. Dep't of Corr., No. 5:07CV-P103-R, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60530, at *12-13 (W.D. Ky. June 18, 2010) (finding that preventing inmate from attending chapel service on one occasion was “not sufficient to implicate the Constitution”); 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”).

         Therefore, Plaintiff's allegation that he was prevented from praying on one occasion is not sufficient to state a violation of the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause, and the claim must be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.[1]

         B. Denial of ...

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