United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
ROSANNA MALOUF PETERSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
THE COURT, without oral argument, is a Motion for Summary
Judgment on Qualified Immunity, ECF No. 33, by Defendants
Grace Birrenkott, Van Johnson, and Donna Byrnes. Having
reviewed the briefing and supporting documents submitted by
Defendants, Plaintiff Phillip Dennis Redmond's response
and supporting declaration, and the relevant law, the Court
grants Defendants' motion and enters judgment in their
the facts in the light most favorable to Mr. Redmond, the
relevant timeline of events is as follows. In fall 2017, Mr.
Redmond was enrolled in chemical dependency programming as an
inmate at the Airway Heights Corrections Center in Airway
Heights, Washington (“Airway Heights”). ECF Nos.
35 at 2; 40 at 1.
approximately September 13, 2017, Plaintiff applied for a
work proscription from the Airway Heights chaplain. ECF No.
12 at 5. As Plaintiff asserts in his complaint, “The
Chaplain approved the ‘work proscription on 9/15/2017
and [subsequently] sent out e-mails to Education and Chemical
Dependency informing them of my ‘work proscription'
days.” Id. It is undisputed that prison staff
excused Mr. Redmond from participating in programming to
observe the Jewish holiday of Sukkot on October 5 and 6,
2017. See ECF No. 34 at 1.
September 28, 2017, chemical dependency program staff
assigned Mr. Redmond to complete a “Learning
Experience” exercise and to turn in his work by October
5, 2017. See ECF No. 35 at 2. On October 6, 2017,
Mr. Redmond attended the Chemical Dependency
“group.” ECF No. 39 at 1. Chemical Dependency
Program counselor, “Ms. Orazko” asked Mr. Redmond
if he was ready to present his “Learning
Experience” that she had assigned to him earlier in the
week. ECF No. 38 at 1-2. According to Mr. Redmond, he
informed Ms. Orazko that he did not bring his work with him
“due to the day being a movie day and work proscription
holiday.” ECF No. 38 at 2.
Orazko allowed Mr. Redmond to return to watch the remainder
of the movie with the group. Mr. Redmond recalls, “I
finished the movie and popcorn with the rest of the group and
returned to the unit without further incident.” ECF No.
38 at 2.
approximately October 9, 2017, Chemical Dependency Counselor
Grace Birrenkott issued Mr. Redmond a “105
infraction” for “failing to perform a work,
training, education, or other programming assignment as
directed.” ECF No. 35 at 2. Ms. Birrenkott's
general infraction report notified Mr. Redmond that a hearing
on the alleged infraction would occur on October 13, 2017.
ECF No. 35-1 at 2. Although Mr. Redmond signed the general
infraction report on October 10, 2017, he did not attend the
Sergeant Van Johnson conducted the infraction hearing that
Mr. Redmond did not attend and, finding that Mr. Redmond had
committed the 105 infraction, sanctioned Mr. Redmond to five
days of cell confinement. ECF No. 35 at 2. Plaintiff appealed
Sergeant Johnson's decision to Airway Heights Hearings
Officer Donna Byrnes. ECF No. 38 at 2. Ms. Byrnes contacted
the chaplain who had approved Mr. Redmond's work
proscription to ask whether he supported a reversal. ECF No.
35-1 at 6. Ms. Byrne's written decision affirming the
sanction recounts that the chaplain “indicated that
there would be no excuse for [Plaintiff] not to have
completed [Plaintiff's] program assignments as they were
assigned on 09/28/17 which left [Plaintiff] plenty of time to
get them done.” ECF No. 35-1 at 6.
subsequently filed this lawsuit stating claims for damages
under Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of
2000 (“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a),
and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants in their
individual and official capacities. See ECF No. 12.
Plaintiff seeks $1, 000 in compensatory damages against each
of the three Defendants, jointly and severally, punitive
damages of $2, 500 against each defendant, “enhanced
damages” of $10, 000, Plaintiff's costs incurred in
pursuing this lawsuit, and “[a]ny additional relief
this Court deems just.” ECF No. 12 at 8.
seek judgment in their favor on the basis that Mr.
Redmond's claims fail as a matter of law and need not
proceed to a factfinder. Defendants maintain that they are
entitled to qualified immunity from suit. Plaintiff responds
that disputed issues of material fact preclude summary
judgment. ECF Nos. 38, 39, and 40.
judgment is appropriate when “the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A genuine dispute
exists where “the evidence is such that a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). A fact is material if it “might affect the