United States District Court, D. Maryland
MALCOM MAXWELL RYIDU-X, SID # 896073, formerly known as Richard Janey, Plaintiff
ECI WARDEN RICKY FOXWELL, MARYLAND DIVISION OF CORRECTION,  COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION, JOHN DOE # ONE, MCI-H WARDEN DENISE GELSINGER,  ACTING WARDEN JOHN DOE # TWO, CHAPLAIN FELTON, LIEUTENANT DUNAWAY, OFFICER JONES, OFICER ALLEN, SERGEANT WILSON, LIEUTENANT ATKINS, Defendants
Catherine C. Blake United States District Judge.
18, 2019, Maryland prisoner Malcom Ryidu-X ("Plaintiff
or "Ryidu-X") filed a "Motion for Emergency
Injunction" seeking to enjoin "Maryland State
prison officials" at Eastern Correctional Institution
("ECI") from an "on-going campaigne [sic] of
discrimination and harassment" against him. Ryidu-X
named only ECI Warden Ricky Foxwell in his pleading,
complaining that he had been unable to purchase personal
hygiene items from the prison commissary and that Foxwell
denied him the ability to practice his religion as a Muslim
unless Ryidu-X "converts" from the Shi'a to
Sunni Muslim faith. See Ryidu-X v. Foxwell, Civil
Action No. CCB-18-2213 (D. Md.), ECF No. I. The submission,
docketed as a Complaint, was incomplete and Ryidu-X was
ordered to supplement his pleading to include a full filing
fee or Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. ECF No. 2. He
complied, ECF No. 3, and counsel for Defendants was ordered
to respond to the complaint, ECF No. 4.
August 27, 2019, the Clerk received a new civil rights action
docketed as Ryidu-X v. Doe, et al, Civil Action No.
CCB-18-2641 (D. Md.). Ryidu-X reiterated his allegations
against Foxwell regarding the denial of worship and a lack of
hygiene supplies and named ECI staff alleged to be carrying
out Foxwell's edicts and denying him access to writing
supplies and other property approved for sale via catalog.
The Complaint further alleged the improper denial of
religious practices and prayer materials by policy-makers
with the Division of Correction ("DOC") and by the
Warden, Acting Warden, Chaplain, and an unknown individual
working at the Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown
("MCI-H"), where Ryidu-X previously was
incarcerated prior to his transfer to ECI in November of
2017. Ryidu-X stated such denial violated the First, Eighth,
and Fourteenth Amendments, the Religious Freedom Restoration
Act ("RFRA"), and the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"). Because
the issues contained in the new lawsuit were closely aligned
with Ryidu-X's previous lawsuit, they were consolidated
under Civil Action No. CCB-18-2213. See Order of
August 28, 2018, ECF No. 10; see also Supplement to
the Complaint, ECF No. 11.
to consolidation Foxwell had been directed to respond to the
emergency injunctive relief request concerning the denial of
commissary items filed in Civil Action No. CCB-18-2213.
See ECF No. 7; see also Show Cause Order of
August 24, 2018, ECF No. 9. Foxwell responded to the
commissary denial issue and also responded to a second
injunctive relief request contained in Civil Action No.
CCB-18-2641 concerning a 12-week denial of hygiene items by
MCI-H personnel. ECF No. 15. Injunctive relief was denied by
Order dated September 24, 2018, and Ryidu-X was given 21 days
to amend his complaint to provide facts and information as to
how and when each named defendant violated his civil rights.
ECF No. 17. When he failed to timely comply, the consolidated
action was dismissed without prejudice. See Order of
October 23, 2018, ECF No. 19. The consolidated action was
reopened after Ryidu-X informed the Court that he did not
receive the September 24, 2018 Order, see ECF No.
20, and Defendants were ordered to address the merits of the
Complaint, as supplemented, ECF No. 21.
have filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for
Summary Judgment, ECF No. 24, with supporting materials, ECF
Nos. 24-2, 24-3, 24-4, 26-1, 26-2, 26-3, which is opposed by
Ryidu-X. ECF No. 29. The pending Motion may be
decided without a hearing. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.
Md. 2018). For the reasons stated below, the Motion,
construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment, will be granted
in part and denied in part.
Parties' Allegations and Assertions
allegations extend on a timeline from September 2017 through
2018, during which he was housed at two DOC facilities, MCI-H
and ECI, His claims focus on access to religious materials
and commissary items, which he claims are denied to him
because he is a Shi'a Muslim. He complains that on
September 20, 2017, while he was housed at MCI-H, Chaplain
Felton informed him that as the only Shi'a Muslim he
would no longer be allowed access to the observance and
practice of his religion, including access to prayer
materials. ECF No. 11 at p. 3. Ryidu-X states that Chaplain
Felton advised him that access to religious materials would
only be provided to Sunni Muslim prisoners and would be kept
for storage by the MCI-H correctional officials. Id.
Those materials will be distributed to the Sunni Muslim
inmates upon their request. Id. Plaintiff further
claims that Chaplain Felton stated he will personally enforce
this policy. Id.
transferred to ECI in Westover, Maryland in November of 2017,
Ryidu-X states he was told by Protective Custody Unit Manager
Lt. Dunaway that the MCI-H policy of disallowing him access
to the observance and practice of the Shi'a Muslim
religion is also followed at ECI. Id. at 4. He
states he was told that Shi'a Muslim religious services
would not be arranged until other Shi'a were present and
a minimum of four to ten participants would be required
before services were held. He was also told he could
participate in Sunni Muslim religious services. Id.
also claims the denial of personal hygiene materials lasted a
total of twelve weeks and was intended as punishment,
id., and claims that Officer Dunaway and Warden Fox
well told him that his inability to obtain these items was
"simply a glitch in the system," ECF No. 7 at p. 2.
Ryidu-X states he sold or traded his meals to obtain hygiene
items or borrowed them from other prisoners. Id.
Ryidu-X claims that the named officers knew he lacked hygiene
items but none offered an alternative way for him to obtain
these supplies, such as providing them through the welfare
commissary or directly from prison supplies. Id. He
names Officer Jones for the denial of his access to the
institutional commissary to purchase personal hygiene
supplies on June 3, 2018. ECF No. 20 at p. 5. Ryidu-X names
Officers Allen, Wilson and Atkins for the denials of his
purchases of personal hygiene supplies on June 18 and 25;
July 2, 9, and 30; August 6 and 13; and October 22, 2018.
Id. Ryidu-X alleges that these Defendant
officers' conduct amounted to retaliation, harassment and
punishment because of his present legal action. Id.
November 2, 2018, Supplemental Complaint/Motion to Alter or
Amend Judgment Ryidu-X states that in the past he could
attend Shi'a Muslim religious services because other
prison chaplains, religious leaders, and prison supervisory
staff recognized and allowed for the separate and equal
treatment of both Shi'a and Sunni Muslims. ECF No. 20 at
p. 4. He references a February 13, 2015, letter as proof that
in the past he had been able to obtain religious oil used in
accordance with Shi'a religious practices. ECF No. 20-2.
names MCI-H Warden Gelsinger and Chaplain Felton for their
"order and intentional act" of denying and
discontinuing access to Shi'a Muslim religious services
and practices. ECF No. 20 at p. 4. Ryidu-X states that the
defendants claimed they were enforcing policies mandated by
the Commissioner of Corrections. Id. Ryidu-X also
claims that ECI Warden Foxwell, ECI's Chaplain (whose
name is not specified), and Officer Dunaway barred
Ryidu-X's participation in all Islamic religious services
or practices, including participation in official observance
of the Feast of the Holy Month of Ramadan, unless and until
he converted to the Sunni Muslim faith. Id. at 5.
The Correctional Defendants' Response
Correctional Defendants argue that Ryidu-X failed to complete
administrative review of his claims, thus precluding this
Court from examining those claims. ECF No. 24-1 at p. 15. The
defendants further contend that they violated neither
Ryidu-X's First Amendment rights nor his rights under
RLUIPA, id. at p. 17, 19; that Ryidu-X did not
sufficiently support his Eighth Amendment claim, id.
at p. 23; and that he failed to plead with specificity claims
against certain named defendants, id. at p. 24-25.
Finally, the defendants claim that they are entitled to
qualified immunity from a claim for damages. Id. at
provide a Declaration from IGO Administrative Officer Samiyah
Hassan in support of their claim of administrative
non-exhaustion. ECF No. 24-4. Hassan provides documents
showing that Ryidu-X properly completed relevant
administrative review of one grievance concerning religion
while housed at MCI-H. Id.
October 17, 2017, Ryidu-X filed ARP MCI-H 0343-17 complaining
that Chaplain Felton was discriminating against the Shi'a
faith. ECF No. 11-3. From the Commissioner's response, it
appears the discrimination claim arose because prayer oil was
provided only to those participating in congregant worship
services. See Id. (ARP MCI-H 0343-17 and related
appeals). On December 11, 2017, the IGO received the matter,
IGO 20171879, for review, which it dismissed on January 25,
2018, based on the prison's compliance with the
dispensing of oil as governed by the Religious Services
Manual. ECF No. 24-4 at p. 3.
also filed ARPs while at ECI. On July 5, 2018, Ryidu-X
submitted grievance ARP ECI-1245-18 concerning a plethora of
complaints regarding Officer Green's lack of action to
address missing food items during a Iockdown, a lost money
order and letter from a family member, an unidentified
officer who collected his commissary slip on June 3, 2018 but
failed to submit it, a lack of access to his prison account
to determine whether funds had been
"misappropriated," and the failure to unlock his
cell so he could participate in his assigned prison job. ECF
No. 1-1 at pp. 1-2. ARP ECI-1245-18 was dismissed on June 27,
2018, because the complaint contained multiple unrelated
issues. ECF No. 15-1 at p. 16. The IGO dismissed Ryidu-
X's appeal of the dismissal on November 21, 2018, for
failure to exhaust the ARP process. ECF No. 26-1 at p.
August 8, 2018, Ryidu-X submitted grievance ARP ECI-1725-18,
alleging that his request for a copy of his financial record
had been ignored or denied. ECF No. 26-2 at p. 10. After
investigation, Warden West denied relief, stating that he had
been issued a copy of his account forms on October 25, 2018.
Id. With the exception of the claim concerning an
officer's alleged failure to submit a commissary request
in June 2018, these grievances are not before the Court and
are not addressed here.
20181347, filed October 17, 2018, concerned Ryidu-X's
claim in ARP ECI-1378-18 that he was denied the opportunity
to practice Shi'a Islam. It was administratively
dismissed on November 28, 2018. ECF No. 26-1 at p. 2. On
December 11, 2018, Ryidu-X filed IGO No. 20181917, which
appears to be a resubmission from the disposition of ARP
ECI-1725-18. As of January 10, 2019, the matter remained
pending with the IGO. Id.
confirm that Ryidu-X is the only Shi'a Muslim adherent
housed at ECI. ECF No. 24-1 at p. 7. They state that Officer
Dunaway properly referenced the Religious Services Manual,
§ .07, ¶ D, subparagraph (12) to explain that
Ryidu-X cannot have his own religious services and that at
least three fellow Shi'a Muslims would be needed before
religious services would be provided. Id. They state
that Dunaway did not mandate that Ryidu-X become a Sunni
practitioner, but merely suggested he could join the Sunni
worshippers to accommodate his request to have congregant
worship. Id. They stress that Ryidu-X is not
prohibited from practicing his religion, merely that they
would not impede his ability to attend Sunni services should
he choose to do so. Id. The defendants also argue
that while he was at MCI-H, Ryidu-X was no longer permitted
to keep religious oil in his cell based on the directives on
the use of oil only during congregant worship, as provided in
the Religious Services Manual - OPS. 140.0002.14.
Id. at p. 8.
note that the contractual commissary provider, Keefe
Commissary, is aware that Plaintiff uses his new
legal/religious name in his transactions. See
Memorandum, ECF No. 15-1 at p. 2; see also ECF No.
15-1 at pp. 3-15. He has received multiple commissary
purchases that include personal hygiene products and
stationery materials. See Declaration of Larry
Adkins, ECF 15-2 ¶ 5; see also ECF No. 15-1 at
pp. 12-15 (documentation of Ryidu-X's multiple
transactions with Keefe Commissary).
Ryidu-X's Opposition Response
takes issue with the defendants' assertion that his
"access to religious prayer ceremony materials was/is
denied due to some sort of 'personal use, '" ECF
No. 29 at p. 1, and states that his status as the "lone
believer in the Shi'a faith" is false,
ECF No. 29 at p. 2. He states that he alone is denied an
opportunity to receive religious meals, meet with religious
leaders, and observe religious holidays. Id. He
reiterates that adherents of other faiths have their
religious and prayer ceremony materials stored by the prison
and distributed as needed, an opportunity that is not
afforded to him because he is the sole Shi'a practitioner
at ECI and thus unable to participate in congregate worship
with others.Id. at p. 3. He also argues
that the only conclusion to be drawn from ...