United States District Court, D. Nevada
ORDER GRANTING THE DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT (ECF NO. 70)
P. GORDON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Shane Brooks, an inmate at the Northern Nevada Correctional
Center (NNCC), filed this lawsuit alleging defendants Melanie
McBroom and Elizabeth “Lisa” Walsh violated his
First Amendment free exercise rights by refusing to correct a
mistaken designation of his chosen religion, which led to him
being denied a kosher diet and participation in religious
services. He also alleges the defendants violated his First
Amendment right of access to the courts because they failed
to timely respond to his grievances.
and Walsh move for summary judgment, arguing they did not
personally participate in the decision to deny Brooks a
religious diet. Rather, they argue, Brooks voluntarily
removed himself from the common fare diet and the decision
whether to reinstate him rested with the chaplain, not
McBroom or Walsh. The defendants also argue Brooks was not
prevented from participating in any religious services
because those services are open to the general population. As
for the claim of denial of access to the courts, McBroom
denies personal participation in responding to grievances and
McBroom and Walsh argue Brooks cannot show he was prejudiced
by any delay in responding to his grievances or that he
suffered actual injury. The defendants also contend Brooks
did not exhaust his administrative remedies before bringing
suit. Finally, the defendants argue they are entitled to
filed an oversized response brief. ECF No. 74. I denied his
motion to exceed the page limit but granted him leave to file
a revised opposition that was limited to 40 pages. ECF No.
77. Brooks appealed that order. ECF No. 82. The Ninth Circuit
dismissed the appeal. ECF No. 89.
never filed a shortened response brief as ordered. As a
result, the defendants never filed a reply. Because the
defendants prevail on summary judgment even considering
Brooks' oversized response and without the need to
consider a reply, I will consider Brooks' oversized brief
in resolving this motion without putting the parties through
the delay that would be occasioned by requiring Brooks to
file a new responsive brief.
the motion as to McBroom because Brooks concedes he has no
viable claims against her. I grant the motion as to Walsh
because she is entitled to qualified immunity on the First
Amendment free exercise claim and because Brooks did not
exhaust his claim of violation of his First Amendment right
of access to the courts.
judgment is appropriate if the pleadings, discovery
responses, and affidavits demonstrate “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), (c). A fact is material if it “might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). An issue is genuine if “the evidence is such
that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Id.
party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of
informing the court of the basis for its motion and
identifying those portions of the record that demonstrate the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The burden
then shifts to the non-moving party to set forth specific
facts demonstrating there is a genuine issue of material fact
for trial. Fairbank v. Wunderman Cato Johnson, 212
F.3d 528, 531 (9th Cir. 2000). I view the evidence and
reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party. James River Ins. Co. v. Hebert Schenk,
P.C., 523 F.3d 915, 920 (9th Cir. 2008).
concedes he has no viable claims against McBroom. ECF No. at
74 at 24, 44. I therefore grant summary judgment in her
First Amendment Free Exercise
November 2011, Brooks identified himself as a Hebrew
Israelite and requested to be placed on a kosher diet. ECF
No. 70-5. That request was approved. Id.
January 24, 2013, a caseworker incorrectly listed Brooks as a
non-denominational Christian. ECF Nos. 70-3 at 13; 70-4 at 5.
Although incorrectly classified, Brooks was not removed from
the kosher/common fare diet as a result. ECF No. 70-4 at 5.
On February 16, 2013, Brooks filed informal grievance number
20062958101 to have the classification corrected. ECF No. 74
at 15. Walsh, who is the Associate Warden and Grievance
Coordinator at NNCC, denied that grievance because, in her
view, Brooks was attempting to grieve more than one issue.
ECF Nos. 70-4 at 3, 6; 70-8 at 41. Brooks resubmitted the
informal grievance on April 8. ECF No. 70-4 at 6. Walsh
denied it on May 30, stating that the Religious Review Team
was meeting for the purpose of discussing ...