United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
J. BRYAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment. Dkt. 30. The Court has considered the
motion and the remainder of the file herein.
first filed pleadings, including the initial Complaint, on
February 23, 2017. Dkt. 1. The Amended Complaint, Dkt. 21, is
the operative complaint.
filed the Motion for Summary Judgment on October 27, 2017.
Dkt. 30. On November 16, 2017, Plaintiff requested-and was
given-an extension of time to respond to the motion. Dkts.
34, 35, 36. Plaintiff's request included substantive
argument responding to Defendants' motion, so the Court
has construed that pleading (Dkt. 35) as a Response to
November 29, 2017, the Court gave Plaintiff Rand
warnings explaining the risk of dismissal if Plaintiff failed
to sufficiently respond to Defendants' motion for summary
judgment. Dkt. 36. See also, Dkt. 33. On December
11, 2017, Plaintiff filed a “supplementary brief of
plaintiff opposing defense motion for summary judgement
[sic], ” which the Court construes as a
supplement to Plaintiff's Response. Dkt. 40. See
Dkt. 35. Defendants filed a Reply on December 13, 2017. Dkt.
Factual background and claims.
recited herein are agreed or uncontested, except where noted.
cause of action centers on what occurred while Plaintiff was
in Department of Corrections (DOC) custody, from
approximately May 2013 until December 4, 2014. Dkt. 31-1.
According to Plaintiff's recitation of the facts, on
February 7, 2014, Defendant DOC Sargent Mike Douglas
threatened Plaintiff with a forced haircut, despite Defendant
Douglas' knowledge that doing so would compromise
Plaintiff's Rastafarian religious beliefs. Dkt. 21 at 3.
Plaintiff states that Defendant Douglas made this threat with
authorization from Defendant Kerry Lawrence, DOC Corrections
Unit Supervisor, who verbally threatened to “knock
out” Plaintiff so that Plaintiff's hair could be
Lawrence recalls a conversation with Plaintiff a few days
after the February 7, 2014 incident, on February 10, 2014,
where Defendant Lawrence discussed with Plaintiff complaints
from “some of the unit custody staff . . . about
Holmes's [sic] hygiene and the difficulty . . .
searching his hair for contraband[.]” Dkt. 31 at 2.
Defendant Lawrence states that in that conversation he
“stressed that no . . . DOC official would force him
[Plaintiff] to cut his hair.” Id. See
also, Dkt. 31-1 at 8.
February 28, 2014, Plaintiff sent to DOC the following
…riot at Stafford Creek. Maybe there will be one here
if the South African born Douglas attempts to cut my hair
again-or you and Inslee will all lose your jobs. I have had
enough-The U.S. SUP CT has accepted a case on the issue . . .
[of] prison hair.
Id. at 13. Based on the February 28, 2014 grievance,
on March 3, 2014, Defendant Lawrence wrote an initial serious
infraction report and cited Plaintiff for violating
“WAC 506.” Id. at 12, 13. See
WAC 137-25-030 (“506-Threatening another with bodily
harm or with any offense against any person or
property”). Also on March 3, 2014, Defendant Lawrence
spoke with Plaintiff about the grievance, including what
Defendant Lawrence called a “threat, ” Dkt. 31 at
¶7, and Plaintiff was placed Plaintiff in administrative
segregation pending a disciplinary hearing.
disciplinary hearing held on March 10, 2014, the
administrative hearing office reduced the “WAC
506” infraction for threatening bodily harm to a
“WAC 663” infraction for intimidation. Dkt. 31-1
at 14. See WAC 137-25-030 (“663-Using physical
force, intimidation, or coercion against any person”).
According to the administrative hearing minutes, Plaintiff
told the administrative hearing officer that “Sgt
Douglas did demand that I cut my hair in front of 30 other
inmates. Other officers have also made similar
threats.” Id. The administrative hearing
officer reduced the infraction after finding that
“[t]here is no evidence of offender threatening staff
with bodily harm, however offender did attempt to intimidate
staff.” Id. Plaintiff was released from
administrative segregation on March 10, 2014. See
in DOC custody, Plaintiff filed multiple Personal Restraint
Petitions (PRPs) to prevent DOC from cutting his hair. The
Washington State Court of Appeals granted a preliminary
request for relief, but later dismissed the PRP as moot
because DOC represented it had no present or future intent to
cut Plaintiff's hair. Dkt. 32-1 at 10. The second PRP was
dismissed at the outset, id. at 32, and similar
appeals of the PRPs failed. Id. at 51, 66, 68. A
letter from Defendant DOC Superintendent Maggie Miller-Stout
to Plaintiff written on January 6, 2014, underlines DOC's
official position about Plaintiff's haircut. The letter
addresses a “situation where an officer conducted a pat
search . . . [and] made a comment that your hair was an
obstacle to search[, ]” which, according to the letter,
is an opinion that falls within DOC policy, which allows
“the Superintendent [Defendant Miller-Stout] to
restrict hair styles that present a security risk.” The
letter emphasized that “[a]t this time, a directive for
your hair to be cut has not been issued, nor is it being
considered.” Id. at 5. The Amended Complaint
alleges “connivance” on the part of Defendant
Miller-Stout to get rid of Plaintiff's hair. Dkt. 21 at
was released from DOC custody on December 4, 2014, and
according to DOC records, Plaintiff was released without a
supervision requirement. Dkt. 31-1 at 18, 19. The Amended
Complaint alleges that on August 13, 2015, Plaintiff was
subjected to a forced haircut by “WA DOC Post-Release
Transitional Housing Facility, Pioneer Human
Services-PHS-Hudson House.” Dkt. 21 at 3 (internal
quotations omitted). Plaintiff still resides at the Hudson
House. See Dkt. 35 at 1.
Amended Complaint does not allege discrete claims, but
Plaintiff brings this case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983
and the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons
Act (RLUIPA). The Amended Complaint seeks “financial
compensation for WA DOC/PHS [Pioneer Human Services] forced
haircuts in violate of my sincere religious beliefs
(Rastafarian). Injunctive relief barring any MORE forced
haircutting of me[sic].” Dkt. 21 at 4
(internal quotations and omitted).
judgment is proper only if the pleadings, the discovery and
disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that
there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law when the nonmoving party fails to make a
sufficient showing on an essential element of a claim in the
case on which the nonmoving party has the burden of proof.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1985).
There is no genuine issue of fact for trial where the record,
taken as a whole, could not lead a rational trier of fact to
find for the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586
(1986)(nonmoving party must present specific, significant
probative evidence, not simply “some metaphysical
doubt.”). See also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).
Conversely, a genuine dispute over a material fact exists if
there is sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual
dispute, requiring a judge or jury to resolve the differing
versions of the truth. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 .S. 242, 253 (1986); T.W. Elec. Service
Inc. v. Pacific Electrical Contractors Association, 809
F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).
determination of the existence of a material fact is often a
close question. The court must consider the substantive
evidentiary burden that the nonmoving party must meet at
trial - e.g., a preponderance of the evidence in most civil
cases. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 254, T.W. Elect.
Service Inc., 809 F.2d at 630. Any factual issues of
controversy must be resolved in favor of the nonmoving party
only when the facts specifically attested by that party
contradict facts specifically attested by the moving party.
The nonmoving party may not merely state that it will
discredit the moving party's evidence at trial, in the
hopes that evidence can be developed at trial to support the
claim. T.W. Elect. Service Inc., 809 F.2d at 630
(relying on Anderson, supra). ...