United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
JAMES M. SHARP, Plaintiff,
DAVID LIEBEL, JEREMY JONES, STANLEY KNIGHT, I. RANDOLPH Sued in their individual capacities, Defendants.
ENTRY SCREENING COMPLAINT, DISMISSING INSUFFICIENT
CLAIMS, AND DIRECTING SERVICE OF PROCESS
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
Screening of Complaint
James M. Sharp is an inmate formerly incarcerated at the
Plainfield Correctional Facility (Plainfield). He is
currently confined at Westfield Correctional Facility.
Because the plaintiff is a “prisoner” as defined
by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(c), the Court has an obligation
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) to screen his complaint
before service on the defendants. Pursuant to §
1915A(b), the Court must dismiss the complaint if it is
frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or
seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from
such relief. In determining whether the complaint states a
claim, the Court applies the same standard as when addressing
a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). See Cesal v. Moats, 851 F.3d 714, 720 (7th
Cir. 2017). To survive dismissal,
[the] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face. 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.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Pro
se complaints such as that filed by the plaintiff are
construed liberally and held to “a less stringent
standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers.”
Cesal, 851 F.3d at 720.
complaint names the following defendants: 1) David Liebel; 2)
Jeremy Jones; 3) Stanley Knight; and 4) I. Randolph. For
relief, Mr. Sharp seeks compensatory and punitive damages and
Sharp alleges that in March 2019, he sent a request for a
kosher diet through the chaplain's office at Plainfield
to the Central Office where David Liebel denied his request.
Mr. Sharp alleges that he is a Muslim and that he requested
the diet for religious reasons. He alleges that Mr.
Liebel's denial of the kosher diet violates his First and
Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Sharp also alleges that his grievances challenging the denial
of the diet were denied at each step of the process by
Grievance Specialist Jeremy Jones, Warden Stanley Knight, and
Final Reviewing Authority I. Randolph, respectfully.
first step in any [§ 1983] claim is to identify the
specific constitutional right infringed.” Albright
v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994). Constitutional
claims are to be addressed under the most applicable
provision. See Conyers v. Abitz, 416 F.3d 580, 586
(7th Cir. 2005). The allegations in the complaint invoke the
First Amendment's protection of free exercise of
religion. The Court notes that the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), 42
U.S.C. §§ 2000cc et seq., confers greater
religious rights on prisoners than the free exercise clause
has been interpreted to do. See 42 U.S.C. §
2000cc-1; Cutter v. Wilkinson, 544 U.S. 709, 714-17
(2005). Mr. Sharp does not mention RLUIPA, but he is
proceeding pro se and in such cases courts interpret
the free exercise claim to include the statutory claim.
Ortiz v. Downey, 561 F.3d 664, 670 (7th Cir.2009).
The First Amendment and RLIUPA denial of religious diet
claims shall proceed against David Liebel.
grievance procedures are not mandated by the First Amendment
and do not by their very existence create interests protected
by the Due Process Clause, and so the alleged mishandling of
[a plaintiff's] grievances by persons who otherwise did
not cause or participate in the underlying conduct states no
claim.” Owens v. Hinsley, 635 F.3d 950, 953
(7th Cir. 2011); see also George v. Smith, 507 F.3d
605, 609 (7th Cir. 2007) (“Only persons who cause or
participate in the [Constitutional] violations are
responsible. Ruling against a prisoner on an administrative
complaint does not cause or contribute to the
violation.”) (internal citations omitted). Therefore,
the claims against Jeremy Jones, Stanley Knight, and I.
Randolph are dismissed for failure to state a claim a
claim upon which relief can be granted.
are the claims the Court discerns in the complaint. If the
plaintiff believes that additional claims were alleged in the
complaint but not identified by the Court, he shall have