United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
JOHNNY R. PHILLIPS, Plaintiff,
RODNEY BALLARD, et al., Defendants.
OPINION & ORDER
E. Wier, United States District Judge
Johnny Phillips brings original and “supplemented and
amended” pro se civil rights complaints. DE 1
(Complaint), DE 9 (Supplemented and Amended Complaint). The
Court screens this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2), 1915A. When testing the Complaints'
sufficiency, the Court accepts as true all non-conclusory
factual allegations and liberally construes legal claims in
Plaintiff's favor. Davis v. Prison Health
Servs., 679 F.3d 433, 437-38 (6th Cir. 2012). The Court
dismisses any claim that 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
suits. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th
original 43-page complaint sets forth an extensive history of
18 named Defendants' alleged retaliatory acts-between
July 2011 and August 2016-and asserts failures to accommodate
his limited mobility and his need for a Kosher diet. DE 1
(Complaint at 7-33). Phillips brings claims under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 12101 et seq. (“ADA”), and
the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42
U.S.C. §§ 2000cc-2000cc-5 (“RLUIPA”).
DE 1 at 2-3; 36-41. Phillips's 51-page
“supplemented and amended” complaint, accompanied
by 300 pages of exhibits, sets forth additional but distinct
allegations of discrimination and retaliation from June 2015
through August 2017 and includes an additional 23-Defendant
slate. DE 9 (Supplemented and Amended Complaint at 11-47).
allegations sweep broadly, but two facts provide the
foundation for nearly all of his claims. First, Phillips
states that throughout this period he has suffered from
serious “orthopedic medical issues” that severely
limit his ability to climb stairs or traverse hilly terrain.
DE 1 at 10-11, 41. These conditions include, at least,
Ankylosing Spondylitis, a form of inflammatory spinal
arthritis. DE 9-3 (Exhibits at 77-81). Second, Phillips
converted to Judaism shortly after his conviction. His
adopted faith includes dietary restrictions. Central to the
claims asserted throughout the filings is Phillips's
desire to be housed at a prison facility that (1) has only
one level-thus providing access to health care, the law
library, and exercise facilities without the need to climb
stairs-and (2) serves Kosher meals. DE 1 at 9, 11. Phillips
alleges that only the Kentucky State Reformatory
(“KSR”) in LaGrange, Kentucky satisfies both
criteria. Id. at 10.
factual allegations, construed and described here in his
favor, are as follows: Phillips, in 2011, sought transfer to
a prison that could accommodate both his medical and
religious needs, but was instead transferred to the Little
Sandy Correctional Complex (“LSCC”), a prison
that does not serve Kosher meals. Once there, prison
officials informed him that he would have to wait six months
before he could apply for the Kosher Diet Program
(“KDP”) operated by the Kentucky Department of
Corrections (“KDOC”). Phillips changed his
religious preference in February 2012, although it is unclear
whether he separately and formally applied for the KDP at
that time. Phillips immediately became the victim of
harassment based upon his faith. When Phillips was unable to
obtain Kosher food while he was confined in segregation from
May to July 2012, on eleven days over that 2½-month
period he chose not to consume non-Kosher food, instead
receiving only liquids. During this period LSCC Warden Joseph
Meko and LSCC Deputy Warden Paul Holbrook were verbally
abusive towards him, referring to him as a “Jew”
in a derisive manner. In August 2012, Phillips transferred to
the Green River Correctional Complex (“GRCC”),
another non-Kosher facility. DE 1 at 7-9.
his arrival at GRCC, the chaplain (“Mr. Risner”)
told Phillips that KDOC policy did not require an inmate to
wait six months before signing up for the KDP. He was then
approved for a transfer to KSR in October 2012. However, GRCC
Deputy Warden Ricky Williams changed the approval to send him
to the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex
(“EKCC”), a prison which serves Kosher food but
has multiple levels, and hence did not accommodate his
mobility limitations. DE 1 at 9-10.
at EKCC, Phillips asserts that medical staff promptly
approved him for a bottom-bunk, first-floor housing
limitation, but that an officer instead assigned him to the
third floor. Six months later in March 2013, Phillips
transferred back to GRCC. Deputy Warden Ricky Williams
advised Phillips that he was removed from KDP at EKCC because
he had missed several Kosher meals, a fact that Phillips
attributed to his third-floor cell assignment. Williams again
required Phillips to wait six months before re-applying to
KDP because of his prior removal. Phillips applied for KDP in
September 2013 and sought a transfer to KSR to accommodate
both his dietary and medical restrictions; however, he was
transferred to the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex
(“LLCC”). DE 1 at 10-11.
his October 2013 arrival at LLCC, Phillips immediately
pursued a transfer. However, he was transferred to Northpoint
Training Center (“NTC”), another prison without
Kosher meals. Deputy Warden Brad Adams advised Phillips to be
patient and that NTC was developing the capacity to serve
Kosher meals. The program was not in place before Phillips
was transferred to LLCC a year later in October 2014.
Phillips completed a legal aide training program at LLCC and
returned to NTC the following month. Upon his arrival, Adams
advised that the development of a Kosher meals program at NTC
had been abandoned because the new dining hall, rebuilt after
an inmate riot, was too small to accommodate it. DE 1 at
2015, Phillips was transferred to KSR. Phillips requested
that he promptly begin receiving Kosher meals, but a chaplain
advised him that there was a waiting list and to be patient.
During this period, several officers at KSR and members of
the kitchen staff cautioned Phillips that he faced
disciplinary sanctions if he continued to try to obtain
Kosher food before he was approved to receive it. These
include two Aramark Food Services employees, Matt Jergen and
Chad Hart, and KSR Warden Aaron Smith, Deputy Warden James
Coyne, Deputy Warden Anna Valentine, Administrative
Supervisor Phillip Campbell, Captain Mike Williams, Grievance
Coordinators Brian Ward and Theresa Turner. DE 9 at 12. After
four months without approval, on December 4, 2015, Phillips
filed an inmate grievance regarding this conduct and the
delay in receiving Kosher meals. DE 9-5 at 7. Three days
later Phillips was transferred to NTC and was told that the
reason for the transfer was his failure to participate in
Phillips alleges, however, that Brad Adams advised him that
his KDP application was in the Kentucky Online Management
System (“KOMS”), a KDOC computer program, before
his transfer to KSR, and that he should be returned to that
prison. However, on December 10, 2015, he was instead
transferred from NTC to LSCC. DE 1 at 13-15, DE 9 at 12-13.
Officer Lorie Conlie advised that the prior transfers were
apparently based on incorrect or incomplete information and
that she would investigate further. Conlie did not follow up
with Plaintiff, provide further information, or take action.
When Phillips pressed for a response about his prior
transfers, Officer Malcome Smith displayed hostility toward
him. Phillips filed a grievance regarding perceived
retaliation by LSCC officers in January 2016, but officer
Brittany Sturgill rejected that grievance as related to a
non-grievable transfer decision. DE 1 at 15-17; DE 9 at 12.
his transfer to LSCC, Phillips sought correspondence and
e-mails between KDOC administrators through Kentucky's
Open Records Act. He states that in March 2016 KSR records
specialist Jodi Williams responded that she was providing
documents in response to his request, but Phillips alleges
that he never received them. DE 1 at 17, 28-29; DE 9-3 at
42-47. At the same time, unnamed LSCC officers began
harassing Phillips, through several cell searches, strip
searches, and property confiscation-including legal documents
related to a federal habeas corpus proceeding pending in this
District. DE 1 at 18-19.
Ford, the LSCC law library supervisor, refused Phillips
permission to conduct legal research using LEXIS (a
computer-assisted legal research platform) in February 2016.
In March 2016, James Sweat, the KDOC Director of Inmate
Population in Frankfort, Kentucky, approved Phillips's
transfer request but would only permit a transfer to EKCC
(not to KSR). Phillips filed a grievance regarding
Sweat's decision, but Sturgill rejected it as a
non-grievable classification decision. DE 1 at 19-20; DE 9-3
2016, LSCC officer Alex Ford and Deputy Warden Holbrook
rejected Phillips's request to conduct legal research for
a supplemental pro se appellate brief. Ford and
Holbrook directed other officers to steal or tamper with his
incoming and outgoing legal mail because he was helping
another inmate with his legal work. Phillips filed a
grievance regarding these matters, but it was denied at the
institutional level, and the Commissioner never responded to
his appeal. DE 1 at 20, 29-31; DE 9 at 19-21.
also filed a separate grievance in July 2016 challenging the
sufficiency of LSCC's law library. Phillips complained
that there was only one computer for research-with a limited
LEXIS subscription-and that staff members were not adequately
trained in legal matters to determine when inmates should be
entitled to free “legal copies” under KDOC
policies. Correctional Unit Administrator (“CUA”)
Sturgill rejected a grievance regarding these matters as
non-grievable. In a related grievance, Phillips asserts that
Warden Hart made several false statements about library
resources in her response denying the grievance, and that the
appeal of that rejection was not processed. Phillips broadly
contends that whenever an inmate seeks to challenge his
conviction or conditions of confinement in a court of law,
KDOC transfers them to LSCC or GRCC, both of which have
inadequate law libraries. DE 1 at 20-21, 29-31; DE 9 at
19-21; DE 9-3 at 3-7, 56-60.
August 2016, inmate food trays in the dining hall were
covered with ants. Officers and food-service staff refused to
do anything about it. Phillips filed a grievance regarding
this incident, but Sturgill rejected the grievance as
untimely because Phillips had written the wrong date for the
event on the grievance form. Phillips re-submitted the
grievance, but Sturgill, claiming that it requested
inappropriate relief, rejected the submission. Sturgill later
told him that Holbrook directed her to reject all of his
grievances about this event. DE 1 at 22-24.
August 8, 2016, LSCC Officer Riggs informed Phillips that,
although he was previously approved for a transfer to KSR,
LSCC Warden Holbrook, with the assistance of Amanda Scott and
Jennifer Tracy at KDOC's central office in Frankfort,
amended the transfer so that Phillips would be transferred to
GRCC. Phillips claims that the transfer was part of a
retaliatory conspiracy, for prior Phillips grievances,
involving KDOC officials Paul Holbrook, Brittany Sturgill,
Lorie Conley, Beth Harper, David Riggs, Malcome Smith, Alex
Ford, Donna Hester Reed, Joseph Meko, Lt. Mabry, Dave Thomas,
Sgt. Howard, Tammy Martin, Amanda Scott, and Jennifer Tracy.
DE 1 at 24, 31-32; DE 9 at 13-14; DE 9-3 at 24-35, 48-50.
his arrival at GRCC in August 2016, CUA Falicia Howard called
nurse Angela Lyle on the phone and discussed Phillips's
private medical information while trying to have
Phillips's bottom bunk restriction removed from KOMS.
Howard then threatened him with unidentified retaliation when
he complained. Phillips indicates that nurse Lyle removed his
bottom bunk restriction, and officer Howard assigned him to a
top bunk. DE 9 at 15, 16.
September 2016, HSA Ron Carey discussed Phillips's
private medical information in a written response to
Phillips's grievance about Howard's conduct. Carey
also “threatened [Phillips] with retaliation”
during a conversation later that same month. DE 9 at 15-16.
Officer David Higgs responded to a grievance about this
matter, which Phillips asserts was not proper handling of the
grievance because it named Higgs. Warden DeEdra Hart denied
that grievance in October 2016. DE 9 at 16-17.
his arrival at GRCC, on August 11, 2016, Chaplain William
Kizziar refused to permit Phillips to re-apply for the KDP
until he had been at the prison for six months. Phillips
filed a grievance, which he alleges Warden DeEdra Hart
directed staff to deny as a nongrievable classification
decision. DE 1 at 24-25; DE 9 at 17-18; DE 9-4 at
August 11 to 31, 2016, Darrell Wheeler and another officer
denied Phillips access to legal aides and research computers
to work on his then-pending federal habeas corpus petition
and the civil rights claims he asserts here. Wheeler stated
that the existing resources at GRCC were consistent with KDOC
policy. Phillips contends that Warden Hart lied in her
response to his grievance. DE 9 at 18-19.
November 18, 2016, Wheeler refused to permit any GRCC staff
to notarize two inmates' affidavits that Phillips
intended to submit in support of a civil complaint, and
confiscated the affidavits and parts of the complaint.
Wheeler refused to process the grievance Phillips filed about
these events. DE 9 at 24-27.
officer Francis Edwards began to harass Phillips in December
2016, conducting several “shake down” searches
each week and telling him that things would go easier for him
if he would stop helping other inmates with grievances and
legal work. On December 8, 2016, Edwards yelled at him when
he offered to help another inmate file a grievance against
her. DE 9 at 27-28. Officer Mark Jackson was present at the
time, and fired Phillips from his prison job as a janitor. On
December 14, 2016, Phillips also filed an inmate grievance
against Warden Hart for her alleged failure to take his
verbal complaints seriously. DE 9 at 28.
February 28, 2017, Phillips requested a transfer to KSR based
on his belief that the entire staff at GRCC were retaliating
against him. While Classification Treatment Officer Grant
Penrod approved a transfer, GRCC administrative officials
requested that Phillips be transferred to Kentucky State
Penitentiary (“KSP”), a maximum-security prison.
The transfer to KSP was approved on March 3, 2017. However,
Phillips alleges that because of his medical conditions,
officials at KSP stopped the relocation before the transfer.
DE 9 at 29.
early 2017, Phillips had several video conference sessions
with a female psychologist at another KDOC facility. GRCC
Deputy Warden Ron Beck allegedly required officers to monitor
the conversations, first by keeping the door to the video
conference room open and then by having an officer remain in
the conference room, both over the objections of the treating
psychologist. Phillips states that Beck refused to process
the grievance he filed regarding the matter. DE 9 at 30-31.
March 27, 2017, Kizziar, Wheeler, and Beck refused to provide
Phillips with free “legal copies” of the
grievances he had filed because they asserted that he was not
facing a deadline to file them. Phillips indicates he was
still able to make copies surreptitiously without paying for
them. DE 9 at 31.
March 28, 2017, Phillips placed a complaint raising the
claims asserted in this action in the prison's mail drop
box. He contends that Wheeler told him that it would never be
filed, and that GRCC staff removed and discarded it. The same
day Darrell Wheeler communicated to Phillips a threat made by
Warden Hart, Ron Beck, Mike Robinson and Darime Ellis to
transfer him to EKCC. Phillips was transferred to EKCC, a
prison that serves Kosher meals but has multiple levels with
stairs, on March 29. On March 31, 2017, Phillips was
transferred from EKCC to KSR after he filed a grievance
regarding his EKCC placement. DE 9 at 24, 31-33.
Phillips's mobility limitations had previously resulted
in bottom floor and bottom bunk limitations, he alleges that
a captain at KSR countermanded that approach and assigned him
to a cell that required him to climb steps. Phillips fell
down some stairs on April 2, 2017, because water had drained
onto the steps and the stairs had no handrails. Phillips
indicates that Dr. Elton Amos, on April 17, 2017, and other
unidentified medical staff refused to treat his injuries.
Phillips's grievances regarding his fall and the refusal
to provide medical care for his injuries were denied as
non-grievable or were never responded to. DE 9 at 34.
April 2017, Phillips signed up for KDP at KSR and was again
placed on a waiting list. On April 6, 2017, Aramark Kitchen
Supervisor Chad Hart yelled at him in the dining hall when he
was checking to see if his name had been added to the Kosher
list. Phillips's grievance regarding Hart's conduct
was rejected for having too many pages on April 17, 2017.
Aramark Supervisor Jergen and officer Phillip Campbell
advised Phillips that fasting, and hence missing Kosher meals
provided to him, would violate KDP rules and could result in
his removal from the program. DE 9 at 36, 41-42.
April 29, 2017, as Phillips approached the area where Kosher
food is served in the dining hall, Sergeant Steven Crawford
directed him to return to the regular chow line. Phillips
alleges that Crawford spoke to him in a hostile and
aggressive manner, and then elbowed him in the ribs as he was
checking the names on a clipboard. Crawford then forced
Phillips up against the wall and handcuffed him in an
excessively forceful manner. Later that day a KSR lieutenant
reviewed surveillance video of the interaction and, after
speaking with Crawford, charged Phillips with engaging in a
non-violent demonstration and placed him in the segregation
unit. Phillips alleges that Crawford directed that he be
placed in a cell flooded with urine and fecal matter, and had
several broken windows. He contends that temperatures over
the next three days were around 45 degrees. Phillips states
that he vomited from the conditions, and
“gritted” his teeth so hard at night that some of
them later had to be removed. He alleges that KDOC had
previously “condemned” this wing of the
segregation unit, but that it was still used by KSR staff to
punish inmates. Phillips was released from segregation on May
4, 2017. DE 9 at 37-40.
Phillips went to retrieve his personal effects from the
property room, he found that a full cup of coffee had been
poured on his legal paperwork, much of his personal property
was missing or had been badly damaged. Several unidentified
officers joked about it when he complained. Phillips filed a
grievance on May 11, 2017, about Crawford's actions, the
conditions in segregation, and his personal property, but
asserts that KSR staff destroyed documents regarding these
events and denied his grievance as non-grievable. DE 9 at
21, 2017, Phillips indicates that he observed maggots on the
serving line for Kosher foods. Phillips states that he tried
to file a grievance when staff and officers refused his
request to take action, but that prison officials refused to
process it. Phillips further states that during this period
KSR Administrator Campbell and Aramark supervisor Jergen
continued to refuse his request to fast without jeopardizing
his KDP participation. DE 9 at 42.
alleges that on June 12, 2017, he went to the KSR legal
office to retrieve and view audio and video recordings in
preparation for upcoming status and evidentiary hearings in
his federal habeas action. However, several compact discs of
photographs and audio recordings were missing and have not
been found. See DE 9-5 at 54-55 (substantiating
logs). Phillips states that he attempted to file grievances
regarding the missing materials on July 3, 2017, but was
refused the necessary forms by a grievance aide. Phillips
alleges that this refusal was based upon direction from KDOC
Commissioner James Erwin, KDOC Ombudsman John Dunn, KSR
Warden Aaron Smith and Deputy Warden Anna Valentine to refuse
to provide any inmate with a grievance form as part of a
department-wide program to prevent inmates from exhausting
administrative remedies. DE 9 at 42-45.
21, 2017, Phillips was removed from the KDP for missing
Kosher meals, something he states occurred because he was
visiting with family and because he could not eat for 24
hours after the dentist installed two fillings in his teeth.
Phillips contends that his removal constituted retaliation
for filing inmate grievances. DE 9 at 45-46.
Phillips states that in August 2017 during a telephone
conversation attorney Ousley told him that he had made
several requests to prison staff to meet with Phillips to
prepare for an upcoming hearing, but that he had received no
response. Additionally, Ousley had sent Phillips copies of
documents filed in his habeas proceedings but Phillips states
that he did not receive any of them. Phillips filed a
grievance shortly after this conversation, and states that he
began receiving mail from Ousley, but that it had already
been opened outside of his presence before he received it. DE
9 at 46-47.
Court has conducted an extensive review of all of
Phillips's filings, and concludes that some of the
defendants must be served with process to address the claims
asserted. However, as explained more fully below, some of the
defendants will be dismissed because the pleaded allegations
do not state a claim against them or the claims are fatally
the Court addresses Phillips's inclusion, in his July
2017 Complaint, of extensive allegations dating back to 2011.
RLUIPA claims are generally governed by the four-year
limitations period found in 28 U.S.C. § 1658(a).
Al-Amin v. Shear, 325 Fed.Appx. 190, 193 (4th Cir.
2009). Because the RLUIPA limitations period is the longest
relevant statutory period,  the deadline for potentially
actionable events is July 2013. The cut-off for
Phillips's other claims was (approximately) July 2016,
twelve months prior to Phillips's July 2017 original
complaint. Claims under Section 1983, the ADA, and the
Rehabilitation Act are governed by a one-year statute of
limitations. Collard v. Ky. Bd. of Nursing, 896 F.2d
179, 183 (6th Cir. 1990) (Section 1983 claims);
Southerland v. Hardaway Mgmt. Co., 41 F.3d 250,
253-54 (6th Cir. 1994) (Rehabilitation Act claims);
Alja-Iz v. Ramsey, No. 3: 14-CV-618-DJH, 2017 WL
6485803, at *7 (W.D. Ky. Sept. 13, 2017) (ADA claims). Tort
claims arising under Kentucky law for negligence and failure
to train or supervise also implicate a one-year limitations
period. Ky. Rev. Stat. § 413.140(1)(a);
Mulaosmanovic v. Warren County, Kentucky, No. 1:
17-CV-169-GNS, 2018 WL 1309992, at *2 (W.D. Ky. Mar. 13,
2018). The limitations period is extended, or “tolled,
” for § 1983 claims to account for the time the
inmate must spend diligently exhausting his administrative
remedies before filing suit. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a);
Brown v. Morgan, 209 F.3d 595, 596 (6th Cir. 2000).
Phillips's claims regarding pre-July 2013 events are
time-barred under all theories. See, e.g., DE 1, at
¶¶ 24-36. Further, allegations regarding 2013
through 2016 (including a generous allowance for diligent
exhaustion) are only actionable under RLUIPA, which does not
authorize claims for money damages. Haight v.
Thompson, 763 F.3d 554, 568-69 (6th Cir. 2014).
Accordingly, for pre-2016 allegations the Court considers
only claims for injunctive relief and declines to direct
service as to any of Plaintiff's secular theories during
this period. See, e.g., DE 1 at ¶ 38
(Campbell-forced stair climbing).
an “official capacity” claim against a state
officer is, as a matter of law, a claim directly against the
employing state agency. Lambert v. Hartman, 517 F.3d
433, 439-40 (6th Cir. 2008); Alkire v. Irving, 330
F.3d 802, 810 (6th Cir. 2003) (“While personal-capacity
suits seek to impose personal liability upon a government
official for actions he takes under color of state law,
individuals sued in their official capacities stand in the
shoes of the entity they represent.” (internal
quotation marks omitted)). Phillips's official capacity
claims are therefore civil rights claims against KDOC.
However, KDOC is not subject to suit under § 1983, both
because a state agency is not a “person” subject
to liability under Section 1983, and because the
“Eleventh Amendment bars § 1983 suits against a
state, its agencies, and its officials sued in their official
capacities for damages.” Cady v. Arenac Cty.,
574 F.3d 334, 342 (6th Cir. 2009); see Will v. Mich.
Dept. of State Police, 109 S.Ct. 2304, 2312 (1989)
(“[N]either a State nor its officials acting in their
official capacities are “persons” under §
1983.”); See v. Collins, 1990 WL 120959, at *2
(6th Cir. 1990) (“[T]his suit seeking only monetary
damages against the [Kentucky] Department of Corrections is
barred as this defendant is not a ‘person' within
the meaning of § 1983.”). The Court therefore
dismisses all § 1983 official capacity claims.
I - KOSHER DIET
Count I, Phillips contends that certain defendants interfered
with his ability to maintain a Kosher diet in violation of
his First Amendment right to the free exercise of his
religion and as protected by RLUIPA,  as follows:
A. Beginning on October 22, 2013, NTC Supervisor (now Warden)
Adams allegedly lied to Phillips about Kosher implementation
at NTC, DE 1 at ¶ 40, and, on November 26, 2014, denied
Phillips a KDP application. Id. at ¶ 43.
B. From July to December 2015, staff at KSR failed to ensure
that he received Kosher meals promptly after he arrived at
KSR and threatened him with disciplinary action if he
continued to try to obtain Kosher food at the dining hall
before he was on the list to receive Kosher meals.
Phillips's original complaint alleged that he had spoken
with Warden Aaron Smith, and Capt. Mike Williams, about this
issue, DE 1 at ¶ 47, 98; his second complaint expanded
that list to include Deputy Warden Anna Valentine, Supervisor
Phillip Campbell, and Aramark employees Chad Hart and Matt
Jergen.DE 9 at ¶ 31; see also DE
9-5 at 7-24 (related grievance). Defendant Sturgill denied
Phillips's grievance about these issues, allegedly at
Defendant Holbrook's behest. DE 9 at ¶ 33.
C. After arriving at LSCC in December 2015, Defendant Conley
purportedly gave Phillips the “run-around”
regarding KDP participation. DE 1 at ¶ 50. Defendant
Malcolm Smith, Conley's supervisor, allegedly became
hostile and refused any remedy when Phillips approached him
about the issue. Id. at ¶ 50-51. Sturgill
denied Phillips's grievance on January 7, 2016.
Id. at ¶ 51.
D. In August 2016, LSCC Deputy Warden Holbrook, Amanda Scott
and Jennifer Tracey altered his previously-approved transfer
to KSR and instead sent him to GRCC, which does not have a
Kosher meals program. DE 1 at 24, 38.
E. In August 2016, GRCC Warden DeEdra Hart and Chaplain
Kizziar would not permit him to re-apply for the KDP for six
months. DE 1 at 24, 38; DE 9 at 17-18.
F. All of the aforementioned conduct was undertaken pursuant
to a policy or custom of KDOC and/or former KDOC Commissioner
Rodney Ballard. DE 1 at 38.
G. In April 2017, Aramark employee Chad Hart yelled at him in
the dining hall, and Aramark employee Matt Jergen and KSR
Supervisor Phillip Campbell advised him that fasting could
result in his removal from the KDP. DE 9 at 36-37.
alleged events occurred within the four-year RLUIPA
limitations period under 28 U.S.C. § 1658(a). Under
RLUIPA, a governmental action or rule that imposes a
“substantial burden” upon an inmate's
exercise of his or her religious beliefs must be justifiable
as both undertaken in furtherance of a “compelling
government interest” and as the “least
restrictive means” of furthering that interest. 42
U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a)(1)-(2); Holt v. Hobbs, 135
S.Ct. 853, 863-65 (2015). While some of the transfers and
delays about which Phillips complains may be justifiable or
otherwise lawful, the record is not sufficiently developed to
permit such a conclusion under the standards applicable at
whether or not the alleged conduct is potentially RLUIPA
violative, the statutory text justifies screening for two
additional proposed defendant categories. “[E]very
circuit that has addressed” whether “RLUIPA
allows individual-capacity suits against state officials . .
. has held that it does not.” Washington v.
Gonyea, 731 F.3d 143, 145 (2d Cir. 2013) (collecting
cases). RLUIPA bars only government burdening of
religious exercise. See 42 U.S.C. §
2000cc-1(a). Because Congress enacted the legislation under
its spending power, imposition of individual liability is
authorized “only on those parties actually
receiving” government funds. Washington, 731
F.3d at 145. Individual employees are not “recipients
of federal funding” and thus are not subject to RLUIPA
liability. Id. (citations and ...