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Forter v. Young

United States District Court, D. Oregon

April 15, 2019

JEFFREY D. FORTER, Plaintiff,
v.
STUART YOUNG, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Jolie A . Russo United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Jeffrey D. Forter (“plaintiff”) brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently before the Court is plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction (ECF No. 41). For the reasons set forth below, this Court denies the motion.

         BACKGROUND

         I. Plaintiff's Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that he is a follower of Apostolic Christian Identity and a “member in good standing with ‘The Restored Assembly of Elohim' which was formerly the ‘Church of Jesus Christ-Christian (CJCC).'” Pl.'s Compl. at 3. Plaintiff alleges that Stuart Young, the Assistant Administrator of Religious Services (“Young”); Dennis Holmes, the Administrator of Religious Services (“Holmes”); and Heidi Steward, the Assistant Director of the Offender Management and Rehabilitation Division (“Steward”) violated his constitutional rights by failing to provide him a “kosher type diet” that is “meat inclusive.” Id. at 1-4.

         Specifically, in his first claim for relief, plaintiff alleges that defendants violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by relying on “a classic Judeo-Christian interpretation of the Bible's Book of 1 Timothy 4:1-4” as the basis for their denial of plaintiff's religious diet request. Id. at 4-5. Second, plaintiff alleges that defendants violated his First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion by refusing “to accommodate his request for a religious diet which is a central tenet of his faith.” Id. at 5. Third, plaintiff alleges that defendants' conduct set forth in claims one and two violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). Id. at 5-6. Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment, money damages, and an injunction “permanently enjoying [d]efendants and their agents and employees from subjecting [p]laintiff to the conduct of the type and degree alleged.” Id. at 6.

         II. Grievance TRCI-2016-08-113

         The allegations set forth in plaintiff's Complaint were the subject of a 2016 prison grievance. On August 8, 2016, Young denied plaintiff's informal request that meat be added to the kosher diet program, explaining that “[t]he DOC provides a Kosher Diet meal that meets daily nutritional standards and there is a kosher meat item [in the] canteen which is available to you for purchase to exercise your religious belief.” Pl.'s Compl., Ex. A at 1.

         On August 16, 2016, plaintiff filed grievance TRCI-2016-08-113, challenging that decision. Id. at 2. Young responded to the grievance as follows:

The verse you quoted warns believers to avoid the “liars” that tell them to abstain from certain foods and from marriage. Paul is saying the food and marriage are good and should not be avoided, he is not telling anyone what food to eat; that's an individual choice. He is simply telling them not to listen to religious “hypocrites” who require abstinence from food and marriage.
There is nothing in these verses that tell you that you have to eat meat or that you have to abstain from meat - these verses emphasize your freedom to make your own choices and the freedom to ignore religious “liars” who command you not eat certain foods.

Id. at 3.

         Plaintiff filed a grievance appeal reiterating that CJCC teaches that vegetarianism is a pagan practice and requesting that correction officials “make available the meat entrees available from the ‘meal mart' vendor.” Id., Ex. B at 1-3. Holmes denied the appeal. Id. at 4. Plaintiff filed a second appeal that was denied by Stewart as follows:

[T]he Department of Corrections does provide a Kosher Diet meal that meets the daily nutritional standards, and if you choose to consume meat as well, there is a kosher meat item ...

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