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William G. Munn Bey v. Department of Corrections

March 16, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gladys Kessler United States District Judge


Plaintiff William G. Munn Bey brings this action pro se against Defendants the Department of Corrections ("DOC"), Executive Director of DOC Devon Brown, Deputy Director of DOC Pat Britton,*fn1 and Warden Simon Wainwright for violations of his rights under the First Amendment, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and for violations of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb. This matter is now before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. No. 17] and Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment on the Pleadings [Dkt No. 21]. Upon consideration of the Motions, Oppositions, supplemental briefs, and the entire record herein, the Court concludes that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is granted and Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment is denied.

I. Background*fn2

Munn Bey is currently a prisoner at the Federal Correctional Institution ("FTC"), in Talladega, Alabama. At the time the relevant events transpired, however, Munn Bey was held at the District of Columbia Jail.

Munn Bey is a practicing Muslim and member of the Moorish Science Temple of America. Munn Bey observes Friday as a Holy Day and, until sometime in the fall of 2009, Munn Bey and fellow members of the Moorish Science Temple of America were permitted to hold services every Friday. However, at some time prior to October 7, 2009, Munn Bey was informed that the Moorish Science Temple of America would no longer be allowed to hold services each Friday, but would instead have to hold their services every other Monday, in order to accommodate conflicting demands on limited space. At the same time, the Sunni Muslim community was permitted to continue their Friday "Jumah" services and to hold two other classes on Fridays.

On October 7, 2009, Munn Bey sent an inmate request slip or otherwise asked for assistance to address the decision not to permit his group to hold services on Fridays. See Defs.' Mot., Ex. 2 [Dkt. No. 17-2]. On January 7, 2010, Munn Bey filed an inmate complaint seeking informal resolution. Id. In response, the D.C. Jail's Chaplain met with Munn Bey, but "Brother Munn did not accept explanation relative to scheduled day for MSOA religious observance." Id. On a form dated March 5, 2010, Munn Bey filed an "Appeal Level 2" directly to the Director of the Department of Corrections. On that form, Munn Bey wrote, "On 2-5-2010, my Appeal Level 1 was filed, On 1-19-2010 the Warden's Administrative Remedy neither answered." Id. Whether these actions sufficed to properly exhaust Munn Bey's administrative remedies is in dispute.

On April 2, 2010, Munn Bey was removed from the D.C. Jail and transferred to the Youngstown Eastern Ohio Correctional Center. Five weeks later, he was sent to FTC.

On August 9, 2010, Munn Bey filed this Complaint, alleging that "he was denied the right to freely exercise his religion under the First Amendment of The Federal Constitution," and that Defendants violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, by refusing to allow Friday services and by transferring him to a prison without access to a law library in retaliation for his grievances. Compl. at 1, 6, 7 [Dkt. No. 1]. On January 12, 2011, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss ("Defs.' Mot."). On February 16, 2011, Munn Bey filed an Opposition [Dkt. No. 20]. On June 21, 2011, Munn Bey filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. On July 18, 2011, Defendants filed an Opposition [Dkt. No. 26]. On December 12, 2011, and at the direction of the Court, Defendants filed a supplemental praecipe further explaining the factual basis for their argument that Munn Bey failed to exhaust his administrative remedies [Dkt. No. 30]. On December 23, 2011, Munn Bey filed a reply to Defendants' Praecipe [Dkt. No. 31].

II. Standard of Review

To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a plaintiff need only plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face" and to "nudge[ ] [his or her] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "[O]nce a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint." Id. at 563. Under the Twombly standard, a "court deciding a motion to dismiss must not make any judgment about the probability of the plaintiffs' success . . . [,] must assume all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact) . . . [, and] must give the plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable inferences derived from the facts alleged." Aktieselskabet AF 21. November 2001 v. Fame Jeans Inc., 525 F.3d 8, 17 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). A complaint will not suffice, however, if it "tenders 'naked assertion[s]' devoid of 'further factual enhancement.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557) (alteration in Iqbal).

The allegations of a pro se complaint are held "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Nonetheless, "[e]ven given the special liberality with which we consider pro se complaints, we need not accept inferences unsupported by the facts alleged in the complaint or 'legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations.'" Kaemmerling v. Lappin, 553 F.3d 669, 677 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (quoting Henthorn v. Dep't of Navy, 29 F.3d 682, 684 (D.C. Cir. 1994)).

III. Analysis

Defendants advance ten separate grounds for dismissal. Defs.' Mot. 1-2. However, it is clear upon review of certain of these arguments and the Complaint itself that the case must be dismissed for want of subject matter jurisdiction. Munn Bey has requested three forms of relief: (1) punitive damages against Defendants Brown and Britton in their personal and official capacities; (2) compensatory damages for stress and emotional injuries against Defendants ...

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