United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
F. Anderson, Jr., United States District Judge.
Shelley, (“Plaintiff”), brings this action
raising claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging
violations of the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use
and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C.
§§ 2000cc et seq. On October 9, 2018, Defendants
filed a Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 21). Pursuant to
Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975),
Plaintiff was advised of the dismissal procedure and the
possible consequences if he failed to adequately respond to
the Defendants' Motion. (ECF No. 23). On October 30,
2018, Plaintiff responded. (ECF No. 25). In accordance with
28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c)
(D.S.C.), the case was referred to the Magistrate Judge.
Magistrate Judge assigned to this action prepared a
thorough Report and Recommendation (“Report”) and
opines that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss be granted in
part and denied in part. (ECF No. 31). The Magistrate opines
that Plaintiff's claims for monetary damages against
Defendants in their official capacities fail. Id.
Further, the Magistrate opines that dismissal for failure to
exhaust is inappropriate. Id. As for Defendants'
argument that Plaintiff fails to state a claim, the
Magistrate opines dismissal at this stage is not appropriate.
Id. Lastly, the Magistrate opines a preliminary
injunction is not appropriate at this time. Id. The
Report sets forth, in detail, the relevant facts and
standards of law on this matter, and this Court incorporates
those facts and standards without a recitation.
Court is charged with making a de novo determination
of those portions of the Report to which specific objections
are made, and the Court may accept, reject, or modify, in
whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge,
or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with
instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
However, a district court is only required to conduct a
de novo review of the specific portions of the
Magistrate Judge's Report to which an objection is made.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b);
Carniewski v. W. Virginia Bd. of Prob. & Parole,
974 F.2d 1330 (4th Cir. 1992). In the absence of specific
objections to portions of the Report of the Magistrate, this
Court is not required to give an explanation for adopting the
recommendation. See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198,
199 (4th Cir. 1983).
filed objections to the Report on April 3, 2019. (ECF No.
43). On March 25, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel
Discovery (ECF No. 37) and a Motion to Quash Subpoena (ECF
No. 46) on April 18, 2019. On July 3, 2019, Plaintiff filed a
Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining
Order (ECF No. 48), and Defendants filed a Response in
Opposition on July 17, 2019 (ECF No. 49). Thus, this matter
is ripe for review.
detailed consideration of the Report, the pleadings and
motions, and the objections, the Court modifies the Report
(ECF No. 31) in part as set forth below. Additionally, the
Court adopts those portions of the Report (ECF No. 31) which
are not inconsistent with this Order.
Report recites the factual and procedural background giving
rise to this action in detail, which is incorporated by
reference. Briefly, Plaintiff claims that starting in August
of 2016, he filed multiple requests for recognition of
“Hebrew Israelites” faith group. Specifically, in
accordance with his faith group, “Hebrew Israelites,
” Plaintiff seeks to be allowed to eat kosher and vegan
diets, to grow hair in locks, braids, or afro-styles, and to
grow long beards with no limitations on hair length.
Plaintiff asserts that Defendants delayed the faith
recognition process. Plaintiff claims violation of the First
Amendment and RLUIPA.
asserts the claims against Defendants in both their
individual and official capacities. Plaintiff seeks
injunctive and monetary relief.
Plaintiff's claims against Defendants for monetary
damages in their official capacities are dismissed.
Magistrate correctly opines, Plaintiff's claims for
monetary damages against Defendants in their official
capacities fail. “Under the Eleventh Amendment,
‘a State cannot be sued directly in its own name
regardless of the relief sought,' absent consent or
permissible congressional abrogation. For the purposes of the
Eleventh Amendment, a state official acting in his official
capacity is protected from a damages action by the same
immunity.” Ballenger v. Owens, 352 F.3d 842,
844-45 (4th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted). A suit against a
state defendant in his official capacity is construed as a
suit against the office itself, and so sovereign immunity
precludes such a suit for damages. Will v. Michigan
Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71
objects to the portion of the Report discussing claims
against Defendants in their official capacities. Plaintiff
argues he can recover damages against Defendants in their
official capacities because “some courts have held that
damages are included in the phrase ‘appropriate
relief.'” (ECFR No. 43 p. 2). Plaintiff argues
“[t]he basic idea of RLUIPA is that states waive their
sovereign immunity by accepting federal funds. This Court
held that states do waive their sovereign immunity from
RLUIPA damages claims by accepting federal money.”
support, Plaintiff cites Smith v. Allen, 502 F.3d
1255 (11th Cir. 2007), abrogated by Sossamon v.
Texas, 563 U.S. 277 (2011); however, Plaintiff fails to
note that Smith was subsequently abrogated by
Sossamon v. Texas. In Sossamon, the United
States Supreme Court abrogated Smith v. Allen by
finding that Congress, by using the phrase “appropriate
relief” against government in the RLUIPA, ...