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Silva v. Bacon

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

September 19, 2019

RAMON SILVA, Plaintiff,
v.
TROY BACON, et al., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MICHELLE L. PETERSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY CONCLUSION

         Plaintiff Ramon Silva is currently confined in the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle, Washington. He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to free exercise of religion and to equal protection, and pursuant to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc, et seq. This matter comes before the Court at the present time on Plaintiff's motions for preliminary injunctive relief. (Dkt. ## 7, 9.) Defendants oppose Plaintiff's motions. (Dkt. ## 16, 26.) Also pending before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for an order directing that he be transported to this Court for a hearing on his motions for preliminary injunction. (Dkt. # 32.)

         This Court, having reviewed Plaintiff's pleadings, his motions for injunctive relief, and the balance of the record, concludes that Plaintiff's motions for preliminary injunction should be denied. The Court further concludes that Plaintiff's motion for an order of transport should be denied as moot.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Background

         Plaintiff alleges in his pleadings that Defendants are violating his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and RLUIPA, by forcing him to remove his religiously mandated head covering, denying him a diet which satisfies the requirements of his religion, denying him items required by his religion for use during prayer (including scented oils, music, and marijuana), and interfering with his right to petition for redress of grievances.[1] (See Dkt. ## 4, 8.) Plaintiff identifies his religion as “The Keepers of the Light, ” a religion which he created while he was in Washington Department of Corrections custody in December 2018. (See Dkt. # 4 at 6; Dkt. # 27 (Clarke Decl.), Ex. D.)

         Plaintiff submitted with his original complaint a copy of his religion's sacred/holy book which he refers to as “The Guide Light.” (See Dkt. # 4 at 7.) That document, which was written by Plaintiff, details the tenets and requirements of his religion. (See Dkt. # 4-1.) Among the requirements identified therein is that “all Keepers will cover their hair with a white clothe [sic] in a style of their choosing careful to cover the entire brain.” (Id. at 13.) The document also sets forth the requirements for “The Keeper Diet, ” including the specific times during the day when meals must be consumed, the rituals which must be observed while preparing and consuming meals, which foods must be consumed or avoided, and acceptable sources from which food may be acquired. (See id at 18-23.)

         Plaintiff, by way of his motions for preliminary injunctive relief, seeks to enjoin Defendants from denying his religiously required diet and his religiously required head covering. (See Dkt. ## 7, 9.) Defendants oppose Plaintiff's requests for injunctive relief. (See Dkt. ## 16, 26.)

         B. Applicable Standards

         1. Preliminary Injunction

         A preliminary injunction “is an extraordinary and drastic remedy, one that should not be granted unless the movant, by a clear showing, carries the burden of persuasion.” Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972 (1997) (quoted source omitted; emphasis added by Supreme Court). See also Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008) (“A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy never awarded as of right.”). To obtain a preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must demonstrate: (1) a likelihood of success on the merits; (2) a likelihood of irreparable harm to the moving party in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) that a balance of the equities tips in favor of the moving party; and (4) that an injunction is in the public interest. Winter, 555 U.S. at 20.

         Under the “sliding scale” approach to preliminary injunctions used in the Ninth Circuit, the elements of the preliminary injunction test are balanced, so that a stronger showing of one element may offset a weaker showing of another.” Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Cottrell, 632 F.3d 1127, 1131 (9th Cir. 2011). Thus, “‘serious questions going to the merits' and a balance of hardships that tips sharply towards the plaintiff can support issuance of a preliminary injunction, so long as the plaintiff also shows that there is a likelihood of irreparable injury and that the injunction is in the public interest.” Id. at 1135.

         The Court must also take into account the nature of the injunction being requested. A prohibitory injunction preserves the status quo while litigation is pending, and a mandatory injunction provides preliminary relief well beyond maintaining the status quo. Stanley v. University of Southern California, 13 F.3d 1313, 1320 (9th Cir. 1994). Mandatory preliminary injunctions are disfavored, and “the district court should deny such relief ‘unless the ...


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