United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
E. Payne Senior United States District Judge
Lee Sampson, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se,
filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action. Sampson names the
following individuals as defendants: Harold W. Clarke,
Director of the Virginia Department of Corrections
("VDOC"); A. David Robinson, Director of
Corrections Operations; D. Ratliffe-Walker, Warden of
Lunenburg Correctional Center ("LCC"); Charlene
Davis, Regional Administrator for the VDOC; B. Reed, Food
Director; and, Phyllis Hughes, Assistant Food Director
(collectively, "Defendants"). The matter is before
the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and the
Court's responsibility to review prisoner actions under
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). For the reasons that follow, the
Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 13) will be granted.
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 5A
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 plaintiff's 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).
the Court liberally construes pro se complaints,
Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir.
1978), it does not act as the inmate's advocate, sua
sponte developing statutory and constitutional claims
the inmate failed to clearly raise on the face of his
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 PERTINENT ALLEGATIONS
times pertinent to the Complaint, Sampson was confined in
LCC. (Compl. ¶ 2.) "Sampson is a Messianic
Jew." (Id. ¶ 41.) As a Messianic Jew, on
the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, Sampson was and is required
to fast for twenty-four hours, from sundown to sundown.
(Id. ¶¶ 12, 15.) Sampson, also alleges, in
a somewhat confusing fashion that, "during the Messianic
fast, he can only eat prior to sunrise and after
sunset." (Id. ¶ 41.) On July 1, 2015,
Defendant Robinson implemented a policy that provides that
those observing the Day of Atonement will be provided with
only two meals at the conclusion of their twenty-four hour
fast. (Id. ¶ 15.)
2016, Sampson was employed in the Food Service Department at
LCC. (Id. ¶¶ 27, 30.) After sundown on
October 12, 2016, Sampson began fasting in observance of the
Day of Atonement. (Id. ¶ 12.) On October 13,
2016, Sampson "was given breakfast before the sun came
up and nothing else to eat until the sundown of the day.
After sundown [Sampson] was given a dinner tray plus a bag
meal to meet the calorie intake of the day . . . ."
(Id. ¶¶ 41, 42.) Sampson noticed that the
bag meal "was not properly equipped with the calories
dietary count intake for that day . . . ." (Id.
brought the perceived inadequacy of the bag meal to the
attention of Food Service Director Reed. (Id. ¶
44.) Defendant Reed directed Sampson to take the issue up
with Assistant Food Service Director Hughes. (Id.)
Defendant Hughes told Sampson, "I don't know what to
tell you." (Id.)
then went Food Service Supervisor Bennet. (Id.
¶ 45.) Mr. Bennet acknowledged that Sampson was
"missing a meal." (Id.) Sampson asked Mr.
Bennet if he could put, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,
vegetables, and fruit in a bag. (Id.) Mr. Bennet
agreed to allow Sampson to put the above items in a bag.
discovering Sampson's actions, Defendant "Reed sent
[Sampson] back to his housing unit due to preparing
unauthorized food and putting extra in the snack bags."
(Id. ¶ 13.) Additionally, on October 13, 2016,
Defendant Reed requested that Sampson be terminated from his
job with Food Service Department on the grounds that,
inter alia, Sampson was "unwilling to follow
policy, instructions, and directives within the Food Service
Operation.7' (ECF No. 1-1, at 12.)
November 1, 2016, Sampson filed a grievance complaining about
his termination from his job for placing extra food in the
bag meals provided for after the fast of Yom Kippur.
(Id. at 8.) Defendant Ratliffe-Walker denied
Sampson's grievance noting, Sampson "played one
supervisor against another" and placed extra food in the
bags when you were told by Defendants Hughes and Reed to
follow the memo. (Id. at 9.) Sampson appealed the
denial of his grievance. (Compl. ¶ 22.) Defendant Davis
denied Sampson's appeal. (Id.)
SUMMARY OF CLAIMS
contends that the Defendants' actions violated his
"constitutional right to be employed, and to practice
his religion in a proper manner . . . ." (Compl. ¶
9.) Sampson contends that by failing to provide him proper
meals to break the fast of Yom Kippur and then terminating
him from his job Defendants violated his rights under the
First Amendment, the Eighth Amendment, the Fourteenth
Amendment, and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
Persons Act ("RLUIPA") . (Id. ¶¶
10, 28, 40, 51.) Sampson also claims that Defendants'
action violated his rights under the Fifth Amendment,
Sixth Amendment,  the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,
Article 1, section 8 of the Virginia
Constituion. (See, e.g., Compl. ¶¶
28, 50.) It is appropriate the summary dismiss these claims,
as Sampson fails to suggest how the Fifth Amendment, Sixth
Amendment, and Article 1, section 8 of the Virginia
Constituion are implicated, much less violated, by
Defendants' actions. Furthermore, the Supreme Court has
found that Congress exceeded its powers by applying RFRA to
states and localities under Section 5 of the Fourteenth
Amendment. City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507,
536 (1997). Accordingly, any claim under RFRA, the Fifth
Amendment, the Sixth Amendment, Article 1, section 8 of the
Virginia Constitution will be dismissed.
RLUIPA AND ...