United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY DISCUSSING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Judge United States District Court
Brian Woodring alleges that defendants David Liebel, Robert
Bugher, and David Smith are liable to him because they
retaliated against him in violation of his First Amendment
rights. Specifically, Mr. Woodring alleges that
these defendants either initiated or failed to stop his
transfer from Correctional Industrial Facility
(“CIF”) to Pendleton Correctional Facility
(“Pendleton”) in retaliation for his
participation in a 2011 contempt action. The defendants seek
summary judgment on the claims alleged against them. They
argue that they are entitled to summary judgment because Mr.
Woodring was transferred so that he could receive certain
Jewish services and not for an improper purpose.
reasons explained below, the defendants' motion for
summary judgment [dkt. 90] is granted in part and denied in
part. The motion is granted as to defendants Robert Bugher
and Chaplain David Smith. These defendants are entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. The motion is denied as to
defendant David Liebel because there are material facts in
dispute regarding whether he retaliated against Mr. Woodring
for exercising his First Amendment rights.
Standard of Review
judgment should be granted “if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). When evaluating this inquiry,
the Court must give the non-moving party the benefit of all
reasonable inferences from the evidence submitted and resolve
“any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for
trial ... against the moving party.” Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 331 (1986); see also Ault
v. Speicher, 634 F.3d 942, 945 (7th Cir. 2011). The key
inquiry, is whether admissible evidence exists to support a
plaintiff's claims, not the weight or credibility of that
evidence, both of which are assessments reserved to the trier
of fact. See Schacht v. Wis. Dep't of
Corrections, 175 F.3d 497, 504 (7th Cir. 1999). Judgment
as a matter of law cannot be granted on an issue that turns
on witness credibility. See Burger v. Int'l Union of
Elevator Constructors Local No. 2, 498 F.3d 750, 753
(7th Cir. 2007).
following factual background is evaluated pursuant to the
standards set forth above. That is, this statement of facts
is not necessarily true, but as the summary judgment standard
requires, the undisputed facts and the disputed evidence are
presented in the light reasonably most favorable to Mr.
Woodring as the non-moving party with respect to the motion
for summary judgment. See Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing
Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000).
Woodring identifies himself as Jewish.
Woodring requested and was denied a kosher diet at CIF. This
Court previously held in Maston Willis v. Commissioner,
IDOC, 1:09-cv-815 JMS-DML (dkt. 103), that the Indiana
Department of Correction's (“DOC”)
termination of kosher diets violated the Religious Land Use
and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), 42
U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a). The Willis litigation was
brought on behalf of a class of individuals who
self-identified as requiring a kosher diet to properly
exercise their religious beliefs. On December 22, 2011, class
counsel filed a motion to intervene for the purpose of
seeking contempt remedies on behalf of Mr. Woodring and three
other members of the class in Willis. (See docket
number 146). That motion was voluntarily dismissed on March
12, 2012, for procedural reasons. In September 2012, the
parties reached an agreement in principle to resolve the
issues related to the motion to intervene. Out of this
agreement a new procedure concerning the provision of kosher
diets was created. At some point in February or March of
2013, Mr. Woodring began receiving his kosher diet.
January 19, 2012, Defendant David Liebel, then Deputy
Director of Religious and Volunteer Services, drafted an
email in which he reported being approached by Mr. Woodring
(one of the four offenders involved in the Willis
contempt case) while at CIF. The email stated that Mr.
Woodring asked why there weren't Jewish services at CIF
and whether it is true that anyone who asked for them would
be transferred. In response, Mr. Liebel stated that it is a
combination of a lack of volunteers and a lack of demand from
CIF and that if an inmate wanted to participate in Jewish
services, the quickest and easiest way would be to write Dr.
Hall, the Director of Religious and Volunteer Services, to
request a move for religious purposes. Dkt. 108-7 at p. 21.
Mr. Woodring testified that he did not demand services be
provided at CIF and that he “advised Liebel I did not
want to be transferred.” Dkt. 108-1 at p. 14.
September 2012, Mr. Woodring's mother was diagnosed with
September 26, 2012, Mr. Woodring requested an enhanced kosher
fasting sack to break his fast surrounding the Jewish High
Holy day of Yom Kippur. Mr. Woodring only received a sack
dinner that was not kosher. Unhappy, Mr. Woodring filed a
grievance complaining of mistreatment and discrimination
against him and Jewish prisoners in general by Chaplain
Smith. He wrote:
This facility has a history (the chapel and chaplains that
is) of discriminating against Jews and this is yet another
example of such. The chaplains refuse services for
Jews/Hebrews/Israelites and inmates who choose
‘other' for religious preferences. We are not
supplied Jewish Literature, Jewish Kippahs, Jewish Calendars
of Holidays, nothing.
Dkt. 108-6 at p. 20. Mr. Woodring requested a meeting with
the grievance specialist, Chaplain Smith and all Jewish
inmates at the facility to address these concerns. As a
result of this grievance, a meeting was reportedly scheduled
for October 27, 2012. Dkt. 108-2 at p. 31-32 (grievance
October 19, 2012, Chaplain David Smith emailed David Liebel
asking for help.
Smith stated that he had responded to a grievance from Mr.
Woodring about the lack of corporate Jewish services at CIF
and had also found a flyer in a housing unit soliciting
requests for Jewish services. In response, Mr. Liebel
recalled his earlier (January 19, 2012) conversation with Mr.
Woodring and suggested initiating a lateral transfer so that
Mr. Woodring could receive Jewish services at another
same day, Mr. Liebel emailed legal counsel (not including
defendant Mr. Bugher) stating that unless they had an
objection he would like to initiate a lateral move for Mr.
Woodring. Dkt. 108-7 at p. 28.
October 23, 2012, counsel for the DOC contacted counsel for the
plaintiff class in Willis to ask if there were any legal
impediments or consequences to transferring Mr. Woodring.
Brian Woodring, DOC # 110925, one of the four named in the
Willis contempt petition, is advocating for Jewish services
at GIF, which are not currently offered and which no one else
there has asked for. So the Department is contemplating
sending him to Pendleton, Miami or the Prison, all of which
have active Jewish services. He is a level 3, as are those
facilities. I advised that l don't see any relationship
between the contempt proceedings in Willis and moving an
offender so he can have a ...