United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
JAMES C. CACHERIS, District Judge.
Gregory Leon Hammer, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, has filed a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his constitutional rights and rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA") were violated when he was removed from the Common Fare diet for a temporary period after he violated prison rules. The matter is now before the Court on defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, filed on July 31, 2014. Defendants simultaneously filed a supporting memorandum of law with exhibits, and provided plaintiff with the notice required by Local Civil Rule 7(K) and Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975). On September 18, 2014, plaintiff responded by filing a Motion Opposing Defendants Motion for Summary Judgment, accompanied by a supporting memorandum. Dkt. 40-41. After careful consideration, defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted, and judgment will be entered in their favor.
The Common Fare Diet was developed by the Virginia Department of Corrections ("VDOC") to meet the religious dietary needs of many faiths. See Acoolla v. Angelone, 2006 WL 2548207 at *3 (W.D. Va. Sept. 1, 2006). It is only offered at select VDOC facilities. Because it is "much more expensive" than normal prison fare, an inmate must apply to receive it. An institutional committee reviews the application, gathers facts about the inmate's religious practices, and approves or denies the request. The decision is then reviewed by a Common Fare Diet committee in Richmond. Id . An inmate's application is approved only if the committee is satisfied that he is a sincere adherent of a religion that requires the elements of the Common Fare Diet. Id . The inmate also must sign a participation agreement prior to beginning the Common Fare program. Keeling Aff. ¶ 5. The Common Fare Agreement states in relevant part:
As a participant in the Common Fare program, I agree to abide by all requirements of this program. The following violations of the Common Fare Program will result in action by the Facility Unit Head and/or the Institutional Classification Authority and Central Classification Services and may be grounds for transfer from my current facility assignment:
1. I fail to pick up a minimum of seventy-five percent of meals served per month....
2. I am observed eating, trading or possessing unauthorized food items from the main line.
3. I am observed giving away or trading a Common Fare food item.
4. I have purchased or I have been observed eating food items from the Commissary inconsistent with the dietary requirements of the Common Fare program.
5. I have not attended services or other religious activities at least twice per month, if available.
Violation of the Common Fare program will result in the following sanctions:
First Offense Removal from Common Fare for 6 month
Second Offense Removal from Common Fare ...