United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Michael F. Urbanski Chief United States District Judge.
Jamel Cabiness, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se,
commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983
and 2000cc-1, et seq., against Mary T. Price, who
Plaintiff says is the Shenandoah County Administrator, and
Steven Weaver, who is the Deputy Superintendent of the
Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren Regional Jail
("Jail"). Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, to
which Plaintiff responded, making this matter ripe for
disposition. After reviewing Plaintiffs submissions, the
court grants the motion to dismiss, terminates Price as a
defendant, and grants Plaintiff leave to amend to file an
19, 2017, Plaintiff requested a tarot card deck and Satanic
Bible because he identifies as "a [S]atanist."
Staff denied the request, stating that Satanism is not a
recognized religion at RSW. On September 29, 2017, Plaintiff
requested that the Jail recognize Satanism, but Weaver denied
the request. Weaver explained that Jail policy only
recognizes religions approved by the Virginia Department of
Corrections ("VDOC") and that the VDOC has not
recognized Satanism as a religion. Plaintiff was allowed to
buy a deck of tarot cards through the Jail's vendor, but
he has not been able to buy the book that defines each of the
seventy-eight tarot cards. Plaintiff requests as relief that
the Jail recognize Satanism and allow him to have a Satanic
argue that the complaint fails to state a plausible claim for
relief because he fails to allege: any facts illustrating a
sincerely-held religious belief, how failure to receive the
Satanic Bible or tarot cards amounts to a substantial burden,
or how either defendant intended to impede his religious
exercise. The court agrees and grants the motion to dismiss
but grants Plaintiff leave to amend the complaint.
court must dismiss an action or claim filed by an inmate if
the court determines that the action or claim is frivolous or
fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted.
See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A(b)(1);
42U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The first standard includes claims
based upon "an indisputably meritless legal theory,
" "claims of infringement of a legal interest which
clearly does not exist, " or claims where the
"factual contentions are clearly baseless."
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989). The
second standard is the familiar standard for a motion to
dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6),
accepting a plaintiffs factual allegations as true. A
complaint needs "a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief and
sufficient "[f]actual allegations ... to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level.. .." Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)
(internal quotation marks omitted). A plaintiffs basis for
relief "requires more than labels and conclusions
...." Id. Therefore, a plaintiff must
"allege facts sufficient to state all the elements of
[the] claim." Bass v. E.I. Dupont de Nemours &
Co., 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir. 2003).
construed, the complaint presents religious exercise claims
pursuant to the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use
and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"). To
determine whether a plaintiff establishes such a claim under
the First Amendment or RLUIP A, a court must decide whether a
plaintiff sincerely held the avowed belief and whether the
belief is, in the plaintiffs own scheme of things, religious.
United States v. Seeger, 380 U.S. 163, 185 (1965).
Only a personal practice that is both sincerely held and
rooted in religious belief falls under the protections of
RLUIPA. See Cutter v. Wilkinson, 544 U.S. 709, 725
n.13 (2005) (noting that under RLUIPA, "prison officials
may appropriately question whether a prisoner's
religiosity, asserted as the basis for a requested
accommodation, is authentic" and whether his
"professed religiosity" is "sincere");
Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 215-16 (1972)
(applying the same metric to First Amendment religious
claims); see Reed v. Faulkner, 842 F.2d 960, 963
(7th Cir. 1988) (recognizing that "an inmate may adopt a
religion merely to harass the prison staff with demands to
accommodate his new faith"). Distinguishing between
religious and secular beliefs, sincere or insincere, is
difficult. See, e.g., Frazee v. Illinois
Emp't Sec. Dep't, 489 U.S. 829, 833 (1989).
Nevertheless, sincerity of belief is the critical, threshold
aspect of the inquiry a court must consider.
presently fails to state facts possessing a Satanic Bible or
having the Jail recognize Satanism as an approved religion
are sincerely-held religious requirements. Plaintiff
expresses his desire as "liking" to have these
things, but he fails to allege that they are needed for his
own religion practice. Without showing a sincere need,
Plaintiff cannot plausibly describe how a defendant's
intentional act or omission "substantially
burdened" him. See, e.g., Lovelace v.
Lee, 472 F.3d 174, 187 (4th Cir. 2006) (discussing
1983 requires a showing of personal fault on the part of a
defendant either based on the defendant's personal
conduct or another's conduct in execution of the
defendant's policies or customs. See Shaw v.
Stroud, 13 F.3d 791, 799 (4th Cir. 1994) (discussing the
deliberate indifference standard for a supervisor's
liability under § 1983). While Plaintiff describes a
personal act or omission by Weaver, he fails to do so for
Price. Even if Plaintiff named Price in an official capacity
only, he fails to establish how the Shenandoah County
Administrator has any effect on policies at the Jail.
the court grants Defendants' motion to dismiss because
the complaint presently fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted. Plaintiff may be able to correct the noted
deficiencies with an amended complaint, and he is granted
twenty-one days to do so. On account of the tenuous
association between Price and the Jail, Price is terminated
as a defendant. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 21.
foregoing reasons, the court grants Defendants' motion to
dismiss and terminates Price as a defendant. Plaintiff has
twenty-one days to file an amended complaint, and a failure
to comply will result in the action being closed and stricken
from the active docket. The motion for a ...