United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division
DION L. LUTHER, PLALINTIFF
WHITE, et. al., DEFENDANT
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
B. Russell, Senior Judge
matter comes before the Court upon a Fourth Motion for
Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Gage Rodriguez and Jesse
Coombs. [DN 120.] Plaintiff Dion L. Luther, proceeding
pro se, has not responded and the time has passed.
As such, this matter is ripe for adjudication and, for the
following reasons, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is
and pro se Plaintiff Dion Luther is a Bobo Ashanti
Rastafari. [DN 1.] He is also a Kentucky State Penitentiary
(“KSP”) inmate. Luther alleges various
constitutional and statutory violations while incarcerated,
all concerning his Bobo Shanti Rastafarian faith. Luther
arrived at KSP on January 12, 2017 with his hair in
dreadlocks. [Id.] Upon arrival, Luther was to be
placed directly in KSP's Restrictive Housing Unit.
[Id.] During processing, Luther was approached by
Defendant Jessie Coombs and was allegedly told that he must
comb his dreadlocks out. [Id.] Luther refused,
asserting that he was required to wear his hair in dreadlocks
pursuant to his Bobo Ashanti Rastafarian faith.
[Id.] Upon refusal, Coombs placed Luther in a
security cage. [Id.]
the cage, Defendant Terry Peede again told Luther to comb his
dreadlocks out. [Id.] Again, Luther refused on
religious grounds. [Id.]
point, Peede produced a memorandum from Warden White and
showed it to Luther. [Id.] The memorandum allowed
restricted housing inmates to have long hair but stated that
inmates' hair must “remain free flowing” and
prohibited “weaves, corn rows, braids, dreadlocks,
twists, or any other hair style that would hinder or affect
the security or operations of the unit.” [DN 1
Pl.'s Compl. Ex. 1, Warden White Mem.] Along with the
memo, Peede allegedly handed Luther a comb and told him he
had thirty minutes to comb his hair out. [DN 1, Pl.'s
Compl.] Luther refused to comply. [Id.]
his thirty minutes lapsed, Luther was restrained, and his
dreadlocks were cut off by Defendant Gage Rodriguez.
[Id.] According to Luther, Rodriguez had to yank at
his dreadlocks while cutting them off, and the clippers used
were unsanitary. [Id.] Consequently, Luther
allegedly suffered lacerations to the back of his head and
developed a rash. [Id.]
alleges that the forcible removal of his dreadlocks violated
his right to religious exercise under the First Amendment and
the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
(“RLUIPA”). [Id.] Luther further claims
that in violently cutting his hair, Gage exhibited deliberate
indifference towards his safety and subsequent medical need.
[Id.] Luther's Eighth and First Amendment claims
have been dismissed by the Court. [DN 94.] Luther's
Fourteenth Amendment Due Process claims remain against Coombs
and Rodriguez. Luther's injunctive relief claims under
RLUIPA and the First Amendment for injunctive relief also
now seek Summary Judgment on these claims.
judgment is appropriate where “the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In determining whether summary judgment
is appropriate, a court must resolve all ambiguities and draw
all reasonable inferences against the moving party. See
Matshushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475
U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
every issue of fact or conflicting inference presents a
genuine issue of material fact.” Street v. J.C.
Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1477 (6th Cir. 1989).
The test is whether the party bearing the burden of proof has
presented a jury question as to each element in the case.
Hartsel v. Keys, 87 F.3d 795, 799 (6th Cir. 1996).
The plaintiff must present more than a mere scintilla of
evidence in support of his position; the plaintiff must
present evidence on which the trier of fact could reasonable
find for the plaintiff. See Id. (citing Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986)). The
plaintiff may accomplish this by “citing to particular
parts of materials in the record” or by “showing
that the materials cited do not establish the
absence…of a genuine dispute…”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). Mere speculation will not suffice to
defeat a motion for summary judgment, “the mere
existence of a colorable factual dispute will not defeat a
properly supported motion for summary judgment. A genuine
dispute between the parties on an issue of material fact must
exist to render summary judgment inappropriate.”
Monette v. Electronic Data Sys. Corp., 90 F.3d 1173,
1177 (6th Cir. 1996).