United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
ROBERT D. GRAYSON #287410, Plaintiff,
CORE CIVIC, et al., Defendants
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
WILLIAM L. CAMPBELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Robert D. Grayson, an inmate in the custody of the Davidson
County Sheriff in Nashville, Tennessee, has filed a pro se
complaint for alleged violation of his civil rights pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. No. 1.) He has also filed an
amended application to proceed in district court without
prepaying fees and costs (“IFP application”).
(Doc. No. 2.) The case is before the Court for a ruling on
the IFP application and for an initial review pursuant to the
Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A, and 42 U.S.C. §
Application to Proceed as a Pauper
the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28
U.S.C. § 1915(a), a prisoner bringing a civil action may
be permitted to file suit without prepaying the filing fee
required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). Because it appears from
Plaintiff's submission that he lacks sufficient financial
resources from which to pay the full filing fee in advance,
his application (Doc. No. 2) is GRANTED.
to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(b) and 1914(a), Plaintiff must
still pay the $350.00 civil filing fee in installments. The
administrator of the facility in which Plaintiff is currently
incarcerated, as custodian of his trust account, is
DIRECTED to submit to the Clerk of Court, as
an initial payment, the greater of: (a) 20% of the average
monthly deposits to Plaintiff's credit at the jail; or
(b) 20% of the average monthly balance to Plaintiff's
credit for the six-month period immediately preceding the
filing of the Complaint. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).
Thereafter, the custodian shall submit 20% of Plaintiff's
preceding monthly income (or income credited to Plaintiff for
the preceding month), but only when the balance in his
account exceeds $10.00. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). Payments
shall continue until the $350.00 filing fee has been paid in
full to the Clerk of Court. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(3).
Clerk of Court MUST send a copy of this
Order to the Davidson County Sheriff to ensure payment of the
filing fee. If Plaintiff is transferred from his present
place of confinement before the fee is paid in full, the
custodian must ensure that a copy of this Order follows him
to his new place of confinement, for continued compliance
with the Order. All payments made pursuant to this Order must
be submitted to the Clerk of Court for the United States
District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, 801
Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203.
Initial Review of the Complaint
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court is required to
conduct an initial review of any complaint filed in forma
pauperis, and to dismiss the complaint if it is facially
frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief. In
reviewing the complaint to determine whether it states a
plausible claim, “a district court must (1) view the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and
(2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.”
Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561F.3d
478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v.
Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations
omitted)). A pro se pleading must be liberally construed and
“held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).
sues under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which confers a private
federal right of action against any person who, acting under
color of state law, deprives an individual of any right,
privilege or immunity secured by the Constitution or federal
laws. Wurzelbacher v. Jones-Kelley, 675 F.3d 580,
583 (6th Cir. 2012). To state a Section 1983 claim, a
plaintiff must allege: (1) a deprivation of rights secured by
the Constitution and laws of the United States, and (2) that
“the deprivation was caused by a person acting under
color of state law.” Tahfs v. Proctor, 316
F.3d 584, 590 (6th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted); 42 U.S.C.
alleges that the jail multi-purpose room is an officially
approved area for prayer. (Doc. No. 1 at 5.) While he was
praying in the multi-purpose room on May 12, 2019, Lieutenant
Timeka Johnson interrupted his prayer and told him to leave
the room. (Id.) Not wanting to get into trouble or
escalate the situation, Plaintiff left the room without
argument. (Id.) Shortly thereafter, another officer
confirmed to Plaintiff that prayer in the multi-purpose room
was approved and offered to write an email to management
explaining what had happened. (Id.; Doc. No. 1-1 at
3.) After Plaintiff filed a grievance about the incident, the
unit manager reported that he spoke to Defendant Johnson and
informed her that inmates are allowed to pray in the
multipurpose room, which she said she did not previously
know. (Doc. No. 1-1 at 6.) However, Defendant Johnson was
apparently not fired as Plaintiff requested, and he was
dissatisfied with how his grievance was handled.
(Id. at 4-5.) Plaintiff sues Core Civic as well as
Defendant Johnson and seeks $100, 000 and Defendant
Johnson's termination. (Doc. No. 1 at 5.)
First Amendment guarantees inmates “reasonable
opportunities” to practice their religion. Hudson
v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 523 (1984). More expansively,
the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
(RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1, prohibits the government
from imposing any “substantial burden” on an
inmate's exercise of his religion, except when the
government can demonstrate that its policy is the least
restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental
interest. Holt v. Hobbs, 135 S.Ct. 853, 861-62
(2015). A single, isolated instance of interrupted
prayer-particularly when there is no allegation that it was
done maliciously or with the intent to discriminate against
Plaintiff-clearly does not violate either standard.
See, e.g., Brown v. Graham, 470
Fed.Appx. 11, 15 (2d Cir. 2012) (missing one kosher meal not
substantial burden); Joe v. Nelson, No.
5:14-CV-0184, 2014 WL 2930856, at *4 (M.D. Ga. June 27, 2014)
(four missed prayers in one day due to isolated incident of
standing water on floor not a substantial burden on the
exercise of his religion); Davis v. Doe, No.
1:14CV373, 2014 WL 1835853, at *2 (M.D. N.C. May 8, 2014)
(missing part of one religious service not a substantial
burden); Pfeil v. Lampert, 11 F.Supp.3d 1099,
1111-12 (D. Wyo. Mar. 31, 2014) (single missed visit with
minister not substantial burden); Mubashshir v.
Moore, No. 3:10 CV 2802, 2011 WL 1496670 (E.D. Mich.
April 19, 2011) (“Isolated acts or omissions, however,
do not constitute a substantial burden on religious
freedom.”) (collecting cases). Accordingly, Plaintiff
fails to state a claim for relief against any Defendant based
on the single event described in his complaint.
even if Plaintiff had stated a claim against Defendant
Johnson, he still would not state a claim against Core Civic.
An inmate only states a claim against a corporation
performing traditional state functions when he alleges that
his injury was caused by an action taken pursuant to some
official policy or custom. Thomas v. Coble, 55
Fed.Appx. 748, 749 (6th Cir. 2003). Plaintiff expressly
alleges, however, that Defendant Johnson's interruption
of his prayer was contrary to the jail policy of allowing
prayer in the multi-purpose room. His complaint further
indicates that the unit manager took remedial action to
correct Defendant Johnson's misunderstanding of that
policy by speaking to her about it. Thus, even if a colorable
claim arose from the interruption of Plaintiff s prayer, it
was not the result of any Core Civic custom or policy.
reasons explained above, Plaintiffs claim is
DISMISSED for failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted. 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2)(B). Any appeal of this Order would not ...