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Young v. Smith

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Statesboro Division

July 17, 2018

DAMON YOUNG, Plaintiff,
v.
DEPUTY WARDEN SMITH; MARTY ALLEN; DEPUTY WARDEN BOBBIT; UNIT MANAGER HUTCHINSON; DEPUTY WARDEN AARON PINEIRO; LT. SHOEMAKE; MENTAL HEALTH DIRECTOR RENO; COUNSELOR MARSHA GILLIS; and DR. JAMES DeGROOT, [1]Defendants.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, an inmate at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia, filed the above-captioned action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1 et seq., contesting certain conditions of his confinement. (Docs. 1, 12.) Plaintiff also filed and was granted a Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. (Docs. 2, 5.) For the reasons and in the manner set forth below, I find Plaintiff plausibly states colorable: RLUIPA injunctive relief claims; First Amendment free exercise, establishment clause, and retaliation claims; Fourteenth Amendment equal protection and due process claims; Sections 1983 and 1985 conspiracy claims; and Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to serious medical needs claims. The Court DIRECTS the United States Marshal to serve all named Defendants with a copy of this Order and Plaintiff's Complaint, (docs. 1, 12).

         However, I RECOMMEND the Court DENY Plaintiff's requests for Preliminary Injunctions and his Motion for Law Library Access, (docs. 1, 9, 12), and DISMISS Plaintiff's: official capacity monetary damages claims; personal property loss claims; RLUIPA compensatory and punitive damages claims; American Indian Religious Freedom Act (“AIRFA”) claims; 42 U.S.C. § 1986 conspiracy claims; First Amendment access-to-courts claims; Fourteenth Amendment retaliation claims; and Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claims. Further, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS without prejudice Plaintiff's First Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, and conspiracy claims for compensatory and punitive damages. The Court should DENY Plaintiff leave to appeal in forma pauperis as to his claims. Lastly, the Court DISMISSES as moot Plaintiff's Motion for an Update on Complaint, (doc. 13).

         BACKGROUND[2]

         Plaintiff filed his initial Complaint on October 2, 2017. (Doc. 1.) After being granted in forma pauperis status, (doc. 5), Plaintiff filed a Notice of Intent to Request Leave to File an Amended Complaint, (doc. 8).[3] In his Notice, Plaintiff detailed several defendants and claims he wished to add to his original complaint and stated that he would file his amended complaint on March 1, 2018, once the grievances related to those additional claims and defendants were exhausted. (Id.) Plaintiff filed a Motion for Law Library Access contemporaneous with his Notice. (Doc. 9.) On March 2, 2018, Plaintiff duly filed his Motion for Leave to file an Amended Complaint and his Amended Complaint.[4] (Doc. 12.) In addition, Plaintiff has filed a Motion for an Update on Complaint. (Doc. 13.)

         In his Complaint, as supplemented, Plaintiff levies eleven sets of claims against a number of named Defendants and proposed Defendants. (Docs. 1, 12.) The focus of Plaintiff's Complaint is the alleged violation of his religious exercise rights and punishment he faced for attempting to exercise those rights; Plaintiff also includes claims regarding deficient medical treatment for inmates who have mental health needs. To that end, Plaintiff alleges claims arising from two Georgia prisons-Smith State Prison in Glennville, Georgia, and Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia, both of which are in Tattnall County. (Id.)

         Plaintiff, an adherent of a Native American religion, asserts that beginning on October 27, 2016, Defendant Deputy Warden Smith violated Plaintiff's First Amendment free exercise, Fourteenth Amendment equal protection, RLUIPA, and AIRFA rights by denying Plaintiff access to kinnikinnick, [5] a “Native American sacred religious item[].” Plaintiff had approvingly used kinnikinnick in his weekly prayer services for two months while at Smith State Prison. (Doc. 1, p. 6.) Plaintiff alleges that he was permitted to use kinnikinnick, supplied by vendor Crazy Crow Trading Post, for over six years as an inmate until Defendant Smith confiscated it, along with Plaintiff's pipe, as retaliation for his filing grievances. (Id. at p. 7.) Defendant Smith reportedly told Plaintiff that his Native American religious items were no longer approved because other inmates sought to use kinnikinnick as part of their Native American religious practice. (Id.)

         In January 2017, Defendant Smith had Plaintiff transferred to Georgia State Prison because Smith State Prison lacked sufficient mental health services. (Id. at p. 8.) Before Plaintiff's transfer, Defendant Smith disposed of Plaintiff's remaining kinnikinnick rather than letting him take it with him or mail it home, as provided for by the Georgia Department of Corrections's Standard Operating Procedure (“SOP”). In addition, Defendant Smith relayed to Plaintiff that he had called Defendant Allen, the warden at Georgia State Prison, and told Defendant Allen “all about [Plaintiff] and that he would not be allowed to smoke over there either.” (Id.) Plaintiff alleges Defendants Smith and Allen's actions constitute a conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985 & 1986 to deny him his statutory and constitutional religious and equal protection rights. (Id.) Upon arrival at Georgia State Prison, Defendant Allen confirmed to Plaintiff that he had spoken with Defendant Smith and that Plaintiff would not be allowed to possess any kinnikinnick unless the vendor provided a list of ingredients, even though Plaintiff's vendor had been approved for six years. (Id. at p. 9.)

         One week later, Defendant Hutchinson attempted to force Plaintiff to sign a form stating Plaintiff was transferred for mental health reasons and had been given a Tier II 90-day review hearing that continued Plaintiff's placement in Phase 1 of the Tier II program. Plaintiff, however, had not been given any hearing and refused to sign the form. (Id. at pp. 8-9.) Plaintiff asserts Defendant Hutchinson's actions violated SOP requirements concerning Tier II hearings and status review. (Id. at pp. 9-10.) Nonetheless, Plaintiff was placed in a Tier II cell where he has been subjected to severe restrictions, including a toilet he cannot flush, little if any yard time, no books besides the Bible or Koran, no personal property, no newspapers or other media, no educational materials, and very little human contact. (Id. at pp. 10-11.) Defendant Hutchinson's actions, Plaintiff avers, violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Id. at p. 11.)

         In March 2017, Defendants Allen, Bobbit, and Hutchinson retaliated against Plaintiff for filing grievances and confiscated Plaintiff's Native American religious books and catalogs as well as other items. (Id. at pp. 11-12.) Defendant Allen told Plaintiff that he could not have any Native American religious items while in Tier II, only the Bible or Koran. (Id. at p. 12.) Defendants Bobbit and Hutchinson also precluded Plaintiff from utilizing his sacred religious items, which were stored in the property room, in his weekly prayer ceremonies. (Id. at pp. 12- 13.) Plaintiff avers these Defendants' retaliation and other actions violated his freedom of religion and equal protection rights, among others. Plaintiff also contends Defendant Allen violated these same rights when he denied Plaintiff from receiving kinnikinnick and a “Buffalo Skull” blanket, which Plaintiff states came in a preapproved mail package. (Id.)

         In July 2017, Plaintiff first requested, and received, permission to take the paralegal course from Defendants Allen, Hutchinson, and Pineiro. (Doc. 12, pp. 7-10.) However, once the course arrived at Georgia State Prison, these Defendants did not allow Plaintiff to possess it and required he send it back. Plaintiff avers other inmates have been allowed to receive and take this same paralegal course. Plaintiff claims that Defendants Allen, Hutchinson, and Pineiro precluded him from taking this course in retaliation for his filing grievances and in denial of his equal protection rights. (Id.)

         In August 2017, Plaintiff claims Defendants Allen, Hutchinson, Bobbit, and Shoemake came to his cell, took his property, and moved Plaintiff from Phase 3 of the Tier II program to Phase 1, the most restrictive phase, without affording Plaintiff due process.[6] (Id. at pp. 2-4.) While in Plaintiff's cell, Defendant Allen directed Defendants Hutchinson and Shoemake to have a hearing right then and to assign Plaintiff to Phase 1 due to a contraband violation, despite the fact that Plaintiff had received no disciplinary reports and was only forty-five days away from returning to general population. Defendant Allen also refused to authorize Plaintiff's paralegal college course. Plaintiff asserts these Defendants' actions violated the SOP and were done in retaliation for his religious beliefs and grievance filings. (Id.)

         In addition, Plaintiff asserts deliberate indifference to serious medical needs claims against Defendants Reno, Gillis, DeGroot, Pinerio, and Allen. (Id. at pp. 5-7.) In short, Plaintiff alleges these Defendants have a custom or policy of providing constitutionally deficient mental health care to inmates. Plaintiff states that Georgia State Prison's mental health services are understaffed and inadequately trained, and do not comply with the SOP's requirements for providing consistent mental health care and counselling. Further, Plaintiff claims he and other inmates often receive no treatment and that what treatment is provided, such as crossword puzzles and Christian coping methods, are ineffective. These deficiencies have led inmates, including Plaintiff, to attempt suicide and have exacerbated Plaintiff's mental health problems. (Id.) As relief for his claims, Plaintiff requests declaratory and injunctive remedies, as well as restitution, and nominal, compensatory, and punitive damages. (Doc. 1, pp. 14-19; Doc. 12, pp. 10-12.)

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Plaintiff brings this action in forma pauperis. (Docs. 2, 3.) Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), the Court may authorize the filing of a civil lawsuit without the prepayment of fees if the plaintiff submits an affidavit that includes a statement of all of his assets and shows an inability to pay the filing fee and also includes a statement of the nature of the action which shows that he is entitled to redress. Even if the plaintiff proves indigence, the Court must dismiss the action if it is frivolous or malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii). Additionally, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review a complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity. Upon such screening, the Court must dismiss a complaint, or any portion thereof, that is frivolous or malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or which seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         When reviewing a complaint on an application to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court is guided by the instructions for pleading contained in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 (“A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain [among other things] . . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”); Fed.R.Civ.P. 10 (requiring that claims be set forth in numbered paragraphs, each limited to a single set of circumstances). Further, a claim is frivolous under Section 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) “if it is ‘without arguable merit either in law or fact.'” Napier v. Preslicka, 314 F.3d 528, 531 (11th Cir. 2002) (quoting Bilal v. Driver, 251 F.3d 1346, 1349 (11th Cir. 2001)).

         Whether a complaint fails to state a claim under Section 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard applicable to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Thompson v. Rundle, 393 Fed.Appx. 675, 678 (11th Cir. 2010). Under that standard, this Court must determine whether the complaint contains “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 plaintiff must assert “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not” suffice. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Section 1915 also “accords judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Bilal, 251 F.3d at 1349 (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989)).

         In its analysis, the Court will abide by the long-standing principle that the pleadings of unrepresented parties are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys and, therefore, must be liberally construed. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Boxer X v. Harris, 437 F.3d 1107, 1110 (11th Cir. 2006) (“Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys . . . .”) (quoting Hughes v. Lott, 350 F.3d 1157, 1160 (11th Cir. 2003)). However, Plaintiff's unrepresented status will not excuse mistakes regarding procedural rules. McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993) (“We have never suggested that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel.”).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Denial of Preliminary Injunctions

         Plaintiff requests thirteen forms of wide-ranging preliminary injunctive relief. (Doc. 1, pp. 14-16; Doc. 8, p. 10.) To be entitled to a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must demonstrate: (1) a substantial likelihood of ultimate success on the merits; (2) that a restraining order or injunction is necessary to prevent irreparable injury; (3) that the threatened injury outweighs the harm that the restraining order or injunction would inflict on the other party; and (4) that the restraining order or injunction would not be adverse to the public interest. Schiavo ex rel. Schindler v. Schiavo, 403 F.3d 1223, 1225-26 (11th Cir. 2005). Similarly, a plaintiff requesting a permanent injunction must satisfy the following four-factor test:

(1) that [the plaintiff] has suffered an irreparable injury; (2) that remedies available at law, such as monetary damages, are inadequate to compensate for that injury; (3) that, considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiff and defendant, a remedy in equity is warranted; and (4) that the public interest would not be disserved by a permanent injunction.

eBay, Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C., 547 U.S. 388, 391 (2006). Thus, “[t]he standard for a permanent injunction is essentially the same as for a preliminary injunction except that the plaintiff must show actual success on the merits instead of a likelihood of success.” Siegel v. LePore, 234 F.3d 1163, 1213 (11th Cir. 2000) (Carnes, J., dissenting). In either case, an “injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy not to be granted unless the movant clearly established the ‘burden of persuasion' as to the four requisites.” Horton v. City of Augustine, 272 F.3d 1318, 1326 (11th Cir. 2001).

         If a plaintiff succeeds in making such a showing, then “the court may grant injunctive relief, but the relief must be no broader than necessary to remedy the constitutional violation.” Newman v. Alabama, 683 F.2d 1312, 1319 (11th Cir. 1982). Accordingly, where there is a constitutional violation in the prison context, courts traditionally are reluctant to interfere with prison administration and discipline, unless there is a clear abuse of discretion. See Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396, 404-05 (1974) (“Traditionally, federal courts have adopted a broad hands-off attitude toward problems of prison administration [because] . . . courts are ill equipped to deal with the increasingly urgent problems of prison administration and reform.”), overruled on other grounds by Thornburgh v. Abbott, 490 U.S. 401 (1989). In such cases, “[d]eference to prison authorities is especially appropriate.” Newman, 683 F.2d at 1320-21 (reversing district court's injunction requiring release of prisoners on probation because it “involved the court in the operation of the State's system of criminal justice to a greater extent than necessary” and a less intrusive equitable remedy was available).

         Plaintiff's requests for injunctive relief, some of which are related to his due process concerns while others are related to his religious liberty concerns, emanate from events occurring at both Smith State and Georgia State Prisons. (Doc. 1, pp. 14-16; Doc. 8, p. 10.) However, Plaintiff only seeks injunctive relief against Georgia State Prison officials, specifically Defendants Allen, Hutchinson, Bobbit, and Pineiro. In sum, Plaintiff asks the Court to order Defendants to release him from Tier II segregation, comply with the various provisions of the SOP, and allow Plaintiff to practice his Native American religion and take his paralegal course. (Id.) Looking to the substance of his requested preliminary relief, the Court finds that Plaintiff fails to establish that he faces an irreparable injury in the absence of his requested relief. Moreover, at this point, Plaintiff has not established a substantial likelihood of ultimate success on the merits of his various claims. Further, based on the current stage of proceedings, it would be inappropriate for the Court to so greatly interfere with Defendants' prison administration in the manner Plaintiff seeks.

         Accordingly, the Court should DENY Plaintiff's requests for preliminary injunction. This is not to say that Plaintiff may not obtain injunctive relief later in this proceeding, but at this time, the Court should not provide such an extraordinary remedy.

         II. Denial of Motion for Law Library Access (Doc. 9)

         Plaintiff's request that the Court grant him physical access to the law library essentially seeks preliminary injunctive relief. Plaintiff's status as an inmate in long-term segregation precludes him from accessing the prison law library and requires that he provide case citations to prison officials in order to receive photocopies of legal materials. (Doc. 9.) However, because Plaintiff cannot access the law library, he does not know what citations to provide to prison officials, and he requests one hour of twice weekly access. (Id.)

         As detailed above, to be entitled to a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must demonstrate: (1) a substantial likelihood of ultimate success on the merits; (2) that a restraining order or injunction is necessary to prevent irreparable injury; (3) that the threatened injury outweighs the harm that the restraining order or injunction would inflict on the other party; and (4) that the restraining order or injunction would not be adverse to the public interest. Schiavo ex rel. Schindler, 403 F.3d at 1225-26.

         To the extent Plaintiff attaches this Motion to the success of the claims laid out in his Complaint, the Court should DENY Plaintiff's Motion for Law Library access for the same reasons it should deny his requested preliminary injunctions, namely that Plaintiff fails to meet his burden of proof to establish irreparable injury and a substantial likelihood of success on the merit of his underlying claims. Plaintiff's Motion states that prison officials are providing indirect access to the law library during his Tier II confinement; further, his filings in this case, including the present Motion, show he has yet to face irreparable harm because they are well supported with citations to various legal authorities. Thus, Plaintiff cannot meet the irreparable injury requirement and no preliminary relief should issue. In the alternative, Plaintiff's Motion could be construed as attempting to state a separate access to courts claim.

         “Access to the courts is clearly a constitutional right, grounded in the First Amendment, the Article IV Privileges and Immunities Clause, the Fifth Amendment, and/or the Fourteenth Amendment.” Chappell v. Rich, 340 F.3d 1279, 1282 (11th Cir. 2003) (citing Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 415 n.12 (2002)). Prison authorities must provide inmates “with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law.” Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 828 (1977). However, to bring an access-to-courts claim, an inmate must establish that he suffered an actual injury. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 349, 351 (1996) (“Bounds did not create an abstract, freestanding right to a law library or legal assistance . . . .”); see also Bass v. Singletary, 143 F.3d 1442, 1445 (11th Cir. 1998) (discussing actual injury requirement). Thus, to state an access-to-courts claim, a plaintiff must show “that an actionable claim . . . has been lost or rejected, or that the presentation of such a claim is currently being prevented”).

         In his Motion, Plaintiff does not allege enough to plausibly satisfy the actual injury prerequisite because he fails to show that his current claim has been lost or cannot be presented due to his law library restrictions. To the contrary, Plaintiff's Complaint remains before the Court, and he has been able to continue presenting his claims, despite not being granted the level of access to Georgia State Prison's law library that he desires. Plaintiff's allegations are not enough to satisfy the pleading requirements. Accordingly, the Court should DISMISS Plaintiff's putative access-to-courts claim for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         However, in an abundance of caution, the Court DIRECTS counsel for Defendants to contact the administration at Georgia State Prison within fourteen days of counsel's receipt of this Order to ensure that Plaintiff is receiving the access to legal materials and authorities that the Department of Corrections' SOP require an inmate such as Plaintiff receive. Defendants are reminded that “the fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts requires prison authorities to . . . provid[e] prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law.” Bounds, 430 U.S. at 828. The Court offers no opinion as to whether Plaintiff has received inadequate access to legal materials to date. Nonetheless, the Court directs counsel to take this precautionary measure to ensure that Plaintiff has an opportunity to fairly litigate this action.

         III. Dismissal of Section 1983 Official Capacity Damages Claims

         Plaintiff cannot sustain a Section 1983 claim for monetary damages against Defendants in their official capacities. States are immune from private suits pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment and traditional principles of state sovereignty. Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S. 706, 712- 13 (1999). Section 1983 does not abrogate the well-established immunities of a state from suit without its consent. Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 67 (1989). Because a lawsuit against a state officer in his official capacity is “no different from a suit against the [s]tate itself, ” such a defendant is immune from suit under Section 1983. Id. at 71. Here, the State of Georgia would be the real party in interest in a suit against Defendants in their official capacities as employees of the Georgia Department of Corrections. Accordingly, the Eleventh Amendment immunizes these actors from suit in their official capacities. See Free v. Granger, 887 F.2d 1552, 1557 (11th Cir. 1989). Without a waiver of that immunity, which is absent in this case, Plaintiff cannot sustain any constitutional claims against Defendants in their official capacities for monetary relief. Thus, the Court should DISMISS these claims.

         IV. Dismissal of Section 1983 Personal Property Loss Claims

         Plaintiff brings several Section 1983 claims for the loss of his personal property-the sacred religious items and paralegal course, among other possessions-stemming from his transfer to Georgia State Prison and placement in Tier II segregation. (Doc. 1, pp. 8, 12-13; Doc. 12, pp. 2-5, 7-10.) A lost property claim implicates a plaintiff's rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See U.S. Const. amend. XIV (“[N]or shall any State deprive any person of . . . property, without due process of law . . . .”); see also Collins v. City of Harker Heights, 503 U.S. 115, 125 (1992) (“The most familiar office of that Clause is to provide a guarantee of fair procedure in connection with any deprivation of life, liberty, or property by a state.”) Despite implicating the Due Process Clause, these claims fail.

         Even if a state actor has continued to wrongfully retain a person's personal property, “no procedural due process violation has occurred if a meaningful postdeprivation remedy for the loss is available.” Case v. Eslinger, 555 F.3d 1317, 1331 (11th Cir. 2009) (quoting Lindsey v. Storey, 936 F.2d 554, 561 (11th Cir. 1991)). “[T]he state's action is not complete until and unless it provides or refuses to provide a suitable postdeprivation remedy.” Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 533 (1984).

         Georgia law provides a postdeprivation remedy through an action for conversion of personal property, which “is a sufficient postdeprivation remedy when it extends to unauthorized seizures of personal property by state officers.” Case, 555 F.3d at 1331. This claim arises under O.C.G.A. § 51-10-1. Lindsey, 936 F.2d at 561. This statute provides that “[t]he owner of personalty is entitled to its possession, ” and “[a]ny deprivation of such possession is a tort for which an action lies.” O.C.G.A. § 51-10-1. The Eleventh Circuit has noted that, “[t]his statutory provision covers the unauthorized seizure of personal property by police officers. Therefore, the state has provided an adequate postdeprivation remedy when a plaintiff claims that the state has retained his property without due process of law.” Lindsey, 936 F.2d at 561 (quoting Byrd v. Stewart, 811 F.2d 554, 555 n.1 (11th Cir. 1987) (per curiam)); see also Allen v. Peal, No. CV 312-007, 2012 WL 2872638, at *2-3 (S.D. Ga. June 18, 2012) (dismissing a due process claim for lost or seized personal property because O.C.G.A. § 51-10-1 provides an adequate post-deprivation remedy). Because Georgia provides a remedy in tort law for Plaintiff's converted property, he cannot successfully state a Section 1983 constitutional claim.

         Consequently, Plaintiff's claims regarding the alleged confiscation and deprivation of his property comprise a matter for determination by state law. Therefore, Plaintiff may not present his claims to this Court under Section 1983. Thus, the Court should DISMISS Plaintiff's due process claims as to his lost personal property.[7]

         V. Dismissal of AIRFA Claims

         Throughout his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges various actions of Defendants, such as denying him access to kinnikinnick and interfering with his weekly prayer services, violated his rights under AIRFA. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-9, 11-13.) However, AIRFA, which enshrines a national policy of preserving Native American religious practices, does not grant a separate cause of action. See 42 U.S.C. § 1996.

         Under AIRFA, the policy of the United States is “to protect and preserve for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise the traditional religions of the American Indian . . . including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites.” Id. In Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association, the Supreme Court made clear that this statutory policy falls short of creating a cause of action. 485 U.S. 439, 455 (1988). “Nowhere in the law is there so much as a hint of any intent to create a cause of action or any judicially enforceable individual rights.” Id. (noting AIRFA “has no teeth in it” (quoting 124 Cong. Rec. 21444(1978))). Accordingly, because Plaintiff has no enforceable rights or cause of action under AIRFA, the Court should DISMISS his AIRFA religious discrimination claims against all Defendants.

         VI. RLUIPA Claims

         Plaintiff asserts Defendants Smith, Allen, Bobbit, and Hutchinson violated his rights under RLUIPA to practice his Native American religion by depriving him of kinnikinnick and other sacred items, precluding him from prayer ceremonies, and retaliating against him through confinement in Tier ...


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