United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Andrew Plaster, Pro Se Plaintiff.
P. Jones United States District Judge.
Walter Andrew Plaster, a state inmate proceeding pro se, has
filed a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and
the “Religous [sic] Land Use of Institutionalized
Persons Act, ” alleging that jail officials have
refused to provide him with the diet required by his
religious beliefs. After review of his submissions, I
conclude that this action must be summarily dismissed.
filed his Complaint in mid-May 2019. He states that he has
been confined at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail
Authority (“SWVRJA”) facility located in
Abingdon, Virginia, since approximately February 5, 2019. The
remainder of his “Facts” are brief:
I am a part of the Asatru Religious Group there is a
religious diet that we are required to eat which includes no
processed meats, so I need the Common fair
Defendants Captain Tatum, Major Kilgore, SWVJA Abingdon, Jane
Doe kitchen worker, and Oasis Commissary Company are all
responsible together for placing a substantial burden on my
rights and denying me the Common fair diet.
All of the named defendants . . . are also responsible for
making me become addicted to processed meats.
I am sincere to my religion to the best of my ability and
because of this substantial burden my religious practices
have been damaged.
Compl. 2-3, ECF No. 1 (paragraph numbers omitted).
names the above-mentioned individuals and the SWVRJA jail
facility as defendants, contending that “his religious
rights have been substantially burdened due to a duty that
the named defendants owed [him] by providing him with a
religious diet.” Id. at 1. As relief, Plaster
requests declaratory relief, monetary damages in the amount
of $100 “per day starting July 1st 2019 for every day
that [he] spends incarcerated at the SWVRJA, ” or a
transfer to a state prison by July 1, 2019. Id. at
dismiss any action or claim filed by a prisoner proceeding in
forma pauperis if I find that the action or claim is
frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which
relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). Section
1983 permits an aggrieved party to file a civil action
against a person for actions taken under color of state law
that violated his constitutional rights. See Cooper v.
Sheehan, 735 F.3d 153, 158 (4th Cir. 2013). To survive
screening under § 1915A, “a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “[A]
pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.
Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertions
devoid of further factual enhancement.” Id.
names the jail facility itself as a defendant. A jail
building, however, cannot qualify as a person subject to
being sued under § 1983. See, e.g., McCoy v.
Chesapeake Corr. Ctr., 788 F.Supp. 890, 893-94 (E.D. Va.
1992). Therefore, the court must dismiss Plaster's claims
against the facility.
the other defendants are persons, the Complaint does not
describe any action that any defendant took, personally, or
any policy for which any of them is responsible, that caused
a violation of Plaster's religious rights. Thus, the
Complaint does not state any § 1983 claim against any
defendant he has named. See, e.g., Vinnedge v.
Gibbs, 550 F.2d 926, 928 (4th Cir. 1977) (finding that
under § 1983, “liability will only lie where it is
affirmatively shown that the official charged acted
personally in the deprivation of the plaintiff['s]
rights”). Moreover, Plaster's submissions do not
state sufficient facts for an actionable against anyone.
assume, for purposes of this Opinion, that Plaster intends to
bring his § 1983 claims under the Free Exercise Clause
of the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”).
“Inmates clearly retain protections afforded by the
First Amendment, including its directive that no law shall
prohibit the free exercise of religion.” O'Lone
v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 348 (1987).
“This [right] encompasses policies that impose a
substantial burden on a prisoner's right to practice his
religion.” Wall v. Wade, 741 F.3d 492, 498
(4th Cir. 2014). For constitutional purposes, such a burden
is one that “put[s] substantial pressure on an adherent
to modify his behavior and to violate his beliefs, ”
Thomas v. Review Bd. of Ind. Emp't Sec. Div.,
450 U.S. 707, 718 (1981), or one that forces him to