United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Dean A. Holcomb, #369696, Plaintiff,
Bryan Styrling, Commissioner of the South Carolina Dept. of Corrections, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
V. Hodges United States Magistrate Judge
Holcomb (“Plaintiff”) is an inmate incarcerated
at Tyger River Correctional Institution (“TRCI”),
a facility of the South Carolina Department of Corrections
(“SCDC”). He filed this action in the Court of
Common Pleas, Richland County, South Carolina, on April 3,
2018, against SCDC director Bryan Styrling
(“Defendant”). [ECF No. 1-1]. On May 14, 2018,
Defendant removed the case to this court. [ECF No. 1]. This
matter is before the court on Defendant's motion for
summary judgment. [ECF No. 22]. The motion having been fully
briefed [ECF Nos. 28, 32], it is ripe for disposition.
pretrial proceedings in this case were referred to the
undersigned pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e) (D.S.C.).
Because the motion is dispositive, this report and
recommendation is entered for review by the district judge.
For the following reasons, the undersigned recommends
Defendant's motion for summary judgment [ECF No. 22] be
states he is a Jewish inmate and alleges SCDC denied his
request for kosher meals and instead placed him on a
vegetarian diet. [ECF No. 1 at 4-5]. Plaintiff contends
SCDC's vegetarian menu imposes a substantial burden on
his religious exercise. Id. at 5. Plaintiff seeks
declaratory and injunctive relief. Id. at 6.
Standard on Summary Judgment
court shall grant summary judgment “if the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The movant bears the initial
burden of demonstrating that summary judgment is appropriate;
if the movant carries its burden, then the burden shifts to
the non-movant to set forth specific facts showing that there
is a genuine issue for trial. See Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). If a movant
asserts that a fact cannot be disputed, it must support that
assertion either by “citing to particular parts of
materials in the record, including depositions, documents,
electronically stored information, affidavits or
declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes
of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or
other materials;” or “showing . . . that an
adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support
the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1).
considering a motion for summary judgment, the evidence of
the non-moving party is to be believed and all justifiable
inferences must be drawn in favor of the non-moving party.
See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
255 (1986). However, “[o]nly disputes over facts that
might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law
will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual
disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be
counted.” Id. at 248. Further, while the
federal court is charged with liberally construing a
complaint filed by a pro se litigant to allow the development
of a potentially meritorious case, see, e.g., Cruz v.
Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972), the requirement of liberal
construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear
failure in the pleadings to allege facts that set forth a
federal claim, nor can the court assume the existence of a
genuine issue of material fact when none exists. Weller
v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir.
asserts a claim pursuant to the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), 42
U.S.C. §§ 2000cc, et seq. [ECF No. 1-1].
RLUIPA provides as follows:
No government shall impose a substantial burden on the
religious exercise of a person residing in or confined to an
institution, as defined in section 1997 of this title, even
if the burden results from a rule of general applicability,
unless the government demonstrates that imposition of the
burden on that person-
(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest;
(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that