United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. HOLLANDER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case arises from an isolated error that occurred on October
25, 2017, at Eastern Correctional Institution
(“ECI”), a prison in Westover, Maryland. The
error resulted in the provision of sausages to inmates at
breakfast that contained 2% or less of pork stock.
time of the incident, plaintiff Muyideen Nureni was an inmate
housed at ECI. See ECF 1. He brings this civil
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of
Maryland and Ricky Foxwell, the Warden at ECI at that time.
Id. Claiming that consumption of pork is against his
religion, plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages
for defendants' alleged violation of his First Amendment
rights. Id. at 2.
have moved to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary
judgment. ECF 15. Their motion is supported by a memorandum
of law (ECF 15-1) (collectively, the “Motion”)
and several exhibits. Pursuant to Roseboro v.
Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), the court
informed plaintiff that the failure to file a response in
opposition to the defendants' Motion could result in
dismissal of his Complaint. ECF 16. Plaintiff filed a
response in opposition to the defendants' Motion. ECF 20.
Defendants did not reply.
review of the record, exhibits, and applicable law, the court
deems a hearing unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6
(D. Md. 2018). Defendant State of Maryland shall be dismissed
from suit. Defendants' Motion shall be construed as a
motion for summary judgment as to Foxwell and shall be
states that on October 25, 2017, while incarcerated at ECI,
he ate breakfast consisting of what he believed to be maple
sausage links. ECF 1 at 1. Thereafter, plaintiff discovered
that the sausages served at breakfast contained pork.
Id. Plaintiff claims that he is a Christian and that
consuming pork is against his religion. Id. at 1-2.
As a result of eating the sausages, plaintiff claims that he
suffered psychologically, mentally, and spiritually.
Id. at 2.
Troxell, Sr. was the Correctional Dietary Manager at ECI
during the relevant time. ECF 15-3 (Troxell Declaration),
&1. In his Declaration, Troxell avers that plaintiff
never submitted any written request for a non-pork diet on
the basis of his faith. Id. at &5. To
Troxell's knowledge, during the 27 years of his tenure in
the Correctional Dietary department, no inmate has ever
requested a non-pork diet on the basis of being a Christian.
to ECI's case management system, plaintiff indicated on
July 20, 2016, that his religious affiliation was
“Protestant Nondenominational Christian.” ECF
15-2 at 23. During plaintiff's incarceration at ECI, he
signed and dated a Religious Preference Registration form
that included a staff witness signature, informing ECI staff
of the faith group that he intended to practice. Id.
at 22. On a form dated May 17, 2017, plaintiff selected
“Rastafarian” as his religion. Id. In
his response opposing defendants' Motion, plaintiff
states that he practices “the same Christian beliefs
under Rasterfarian [sic]” ECF 20 at 1.
maintains that, in accordance with Maryland Department of
Public Safety and Correctional Services (“DPSCS”)
policy, “no prison inmate food items of any kind may
contain any pork or pork by-products out of general
consideration of established Muslim and Jewish religious
dietary restrictions, which forbid consumption of any
pork[.]” ECF 15-3 at ¶3. Moreover,
“[c]ertified Halal and Kosher diets are provided for
Muslim and Jewish inmates, respectively, on the basis of
widely recognized and established Muslim and Jewish religious
convictions.” Id. at ¶4. However, those
religious diets are “only provided to inmates who
submit a written dietary request and have been approved by
the prison chaplain once the chaplain has interviewed them
individually to ascertain the veracity and sincerity of their
respective religious faiths to warrant accommodation of a
religious diet rather than the general population
at the relevant time, the DPSCS did not order sausages with
any pork. An invoice dated September 27, 2017, reflects that
ECI contracted to purchase 192 cases of turkey maple sausage
links from a commercial food vendor. ECF 15-2 at 2. Of import
here, the invoice expressly states, in part: “Sausage,
Turkey Maple Link . . . .” Id. Payment was due
by October 27, 2017. Id. And, the purchase
requisition (id. at 3) indicates an “Item
Description” of “Turkey Sausage Links.”
Further, the “Receiving Report” describes the
“articles” as “Turkey Sausage links.”
Id. at 4.
relevance, all commercial vendors supplying inmate food items
to ECI are explicitly informed prior to sale that any food
items must not contain any pork or pork by-products, in
accordance with DPSCS policies. See ECF 15-3 at
¶6. Troxell avers that ECI relies on the commercial food
vendors to comply with this policy with respect to the inmate
food items supplied to ECI. Id. Troxell also expects
ECI staff to comply with the Directives and ECI policies
regarding inmate meals. Id. at ¶7. However,
Troxell does not dispute that “sausage that contained
2% or less dehydrated pork stock” was served to ECI
inmates on October 25, 2017. See ECF 15-1 at
November 22, 2017, plaintiff filed ARP complaint ECI-3059-17.
ECF 15-2 at 5. Plaintiff asserted that by serving pork at
breakfast on the date in question, ECI staff violated his
First Amendment right to practice his religion. Id.
Plaintiff also stated that “pork consumption is and has
always been against my religion as it has and always been an
unclean food.” Id. Therefore, he sought,
inter alia, monetary compensation. Id.
responding to an ECI inmate's ARP complaint, defendant
Foxwell relies on the review and investigation by the staff.
ECF 15-4 (Foxwell Declaration), ¶4. During the
investigation of plaintiff's ARP complaint by ECI staff,
a correctional officer assigned to the “feed up”
meal duty for October 25, 2017, provided a statement
indicating that, to the officer's knowledge, no pork
products were purchased or served in the DOC [Division of
Correction], that the food item in question was turkey
sausage, and that eggs were available if any inmate wanted a
substitute. ECF 15-2 at 21.
January 5, 2018, Foxwell provided the following response to
plaintiff's ARP complaint, id. at 5:
Your request for Administrative Remedy has been investigated
and is Meritorious in Part; upon review of reports from staff
and supporting documentation, it has been determined that
sausage that contained 2% or less dehydrated pork stock on
10/25/17. This was served as an oversite [sic] by multiple
departments and the vendor. This product has been pulled and
will not be served in the future. Eating of pork products
does not cause health issues. Staff has been advised to check
labels prior to serving.
appealed his ARP complaint, stating he was affected
“spiritually and mentally.” Id. at 14.
The Commissioner of Correction dismissed the appeal, stating:
“You were advised in the warden's response that
staff has been advised to check labels prior to
serving.” Id. at 13. The ...