United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
ERIC L. PROSHA, Plaintiff,
DAVID ROBINSON, et al., Defendants.
Hannah Lauck United States District Judge.
Prosha, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and
in forma pauperis, filed this civil action under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. The action proceeds on Prosha's
Particularized Complaint ("Complaint, " ECF No.
21). Defendants Robinson, Parker, and Springs
("Defendants") have moved to dismiss the
action. (ECF No. 28.) Defendants provided Prosha
with RoseboroNotice. (ECF No. 30.) Prosha has responded.
(ECF No. 33.) For the reasons that follow, the Motion to
Dismiss will be GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.
Standard for Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency
of a complaint; importantly, it does not resolve contests
surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the
applicability of defenses." Republican Party of N.C.
v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (citing 5 A
Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal
Practice and Procedure § 1356 (1990)). In
considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim,
a plaintiffs well-pleaded allegations are taken as true and
the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d
1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993); see also Martin, 980
F.2d at 952. This principle applies only to factual
allegations, however, and "a court considering a motion
to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that,
because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled
to the assumption of truth." Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "require[ ] only 'a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to 'give
the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Ail. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (second alteration
in original) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41,
47 (1957)). Plaintiffs cannot satisfy this standard with
complaints containing only "labels and conclusions"
or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action." Id. (citations omitted). Instead, a
plaintiff must allege facts sufficient "to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level, " id.
(citation omitted), stating a claim that is "plausible
on its face, " id. at 570, rather than merely
"conceivable." Id. "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."
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell All.
Corp., 550 U.S. at 556). In order for a claim or
complaint to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim,
the plaintiff must "allege facts sufficient to state all
the elements of [his or] her claim." Bass v. E.I.
DuPont de Nemours & Co., 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir.
2003) (citing Dickson v. Microsoft Corp., 309 F.3d
193, 213 (4th Cir. 2002); Iodice v. United States,
289 F.3d 270, 281 (4th Cir. 2002)). Lastly, while the Court
liberally construes pro se complaints, Gordon v.
Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978), it will not
act as the inmate's advocate and develop, sua
sponte, statutory and constitutional claims that the
inmate failed to clearly raise on the face of his or her
complaint. See Brock v. Carroll, 107 F.3d 241, 243
(4th Cir. 1997) (Luttig, J., concurring); Beaudett v.
City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).
Summary of Allegations and Claims
Complaint, Prosha alleges, in relevant part:
Plaintiff is now, and at all times relevant to the events
described herein, an adherent of the House of Yahweh. The
House of Yahweh is a religious organization whose adherents
believe it [is] necessary to abide by the Torah. Adherents
must . . . keep annual festivals of the Old Testament,
including the assembling of members, once a year on the
evening before Passover, to hold a solemn observance of
On April 3, 2015, Plaintiff, although the House of Yahweh
group had previously arranged with Chaplain Wiggins to
receive the proper meals for the Passover of the Unleavened
Bread, was served meals that contained yeast (egg noodles).
Plaintiff notified the S-3 Cluster Kitchen Supervisor
(Jane/John Doe) and the correctional officer on duty at the
time that the meal was incorrect. Defendant Jane/John Doe and
the correctional officer both told Plaintiff that was all
they had to give him. Plaintiff, due to the requirements and
beliefs of his religion, was unable to eat these meals.
On April 4, 2015, Plaintiff was again given meals with
non-kosher foods on them. Plaintiff again notified defendant
John/Jane Doe that the meals were not proper for his
religious beliefs. Plaintiff asked for the Kitchen
Supervisor's name and was told no one knew what it was.
At every meal through April 11, 2015, Plaintiff was served
items that did not meet the requirements of the House of
Yahweh. At each meal, Plaintiff informed the correctional
officer on duty and attempted to notify the Kitchen
Supervisor. [In] each instance, Plaintiff was told that was
all they had to give him.
On April 4, 2015, Plaintiff sent a request form to Chaplain
Wiggins informing him that food service was not providing the
proper food items at meals. This request form was never
returned to Plaintiff.
(Compl. ¶¶ 12-16.)
Allegations with Respect to Defendant Springs
Defendant Springs, Prosha asserts that:
It is well known that adherents of the House of Yahweh are
not allowed to consume commercial dairy products such as
milk, butter, ice cream, yogurt or cheese blends because they
contain trace amounts of blood from unhealthy cows. Yet,
Plaintiff was served milk each day and butter regularly at
meals. It is also known that adherents must eat kosher foods
(Id. ¶ 19.) Prosha further asserts that
Defendant Springs was "aware of the requirements for the
meals of the Passover of the Unleavened Bread."
(Id.) Prosha, however, fails to allege facts that
suggest that Defendant Springs was aware that Prosha was not
receiving food that complied with his religious tenets.
Allegations with Respect to Defendant Parker
Defendant Parker, Prosha makes the following allegations:
Under the provisions of VDOC Operating Procedure 866.1,
Defendant Parker, as Warden of [GCC], reviewed and determined
Plaintiffs grievances with respect to the failure to provide
adequate and religiously correct meals in those instances
when Plaintiffs complaints regarding the nature or extent of
proper meals he had, or not had, received is not resolved to
Plaintiffs satisfaction on an informal basis.
(Id. ¶ 20.) Prosha further alleges that he
raised the issue of not receiving meals that complied with
his dietary requirement in "an informal complaint... on
April 9, 2015 ... and followed it with a formal grievance.
Plaintiff further filed complaints and grievances on
September 22, 2015, and December 4, 2015." (Id.
Allegations with Respect to Defendant Robinson
respect to Defendant Robinson, Prosha simply alleges,
"Plaintiff mailed a letter to Robinson on April 6, 2015
setting out the deficiencies in the meals being provided
Plaintiff during the Passover of the Unleavened Bread.
Plaintiff did not receive a response to this letter."
(Id. ¶ 21.)