United States District Court, D. Nevada
BENJAMIN W. ESPINOSA, AMERICAN HUMANIST ASSOCIATION, Plaintiffs,
JOSEPH STOGNER, et al., Defendants.
REPORT & RECOMMENDATION OF U.S. MAGISTRATE
WILLIAM G. COBB UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Report and Recommendation is made to the Honorable Robert C.
Jones, Senior United States District Judge. The action was
referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and the Local Rules of Practice,
LR 1B 1-4.
the court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.
(ECF No. 29.) Plaintiffs filed a response (ECF No. 31), and
Defendants filed a reply (ECF No. 34).
thorough review, it is recommended that Defendants'
motion be denied.
Benjamin Espinosa is an inmate in the custody of the Nevada
Department of Corrections (NDOC), proceeding with this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Sec. Am. Compl. (SAC),
ECF No. 37.) The events giving rise to this action took place
while Plaintiff Espinosa was housed at Lovelock Correctional
Center (LCC). (Id.) The other plaintiff to this
action is the American Humanist Association (AHA), a
nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization with members nationwide that
promotes Humanism and is dedicated to advancing and
preserving separation of church and state and the rights of
its members. (Id.) Defendants are NDOC Director
James Dzurenda and Chaplain James Stogner. (Id.)
Plaintiff alleges that he sincerely holds Humanist
convictions, but that NDOC does not recognize Humanists as a
faith group, and therefore, he is denied accommodations made
to other faith groups, despite his requests. (Id.)
The SAC asserts violations of the Establishment Clause of the
First Amendment, as well as the Equal Protection Clause of
the Fourteenth Amendment. (Id.) Plaintiffs seek
declaratory and injunctive relief as well as an award of
nominal damages, and reasonable costs and fees.
move for summary judgment, arguing that the AHA does not have
standing. AHA concedes it is not asserting prudential or
organizational standing, but maintains it has associational
standing; therefore, the court's analysis will focus on
whether the AHA may assert associational standing.
purpose of summary judgment is to avoid unnecessary trials
when there is no dispute as to the facts before the
court." Northwest Motorcycle Ass'n v. U.S.
Dep't of Agric., 18 F.3d 1468, 1471 (9th Cir. 1994)
(citation omitted). In considering a motion for summary
judgment, all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the
non-moving party. In re Slatkin, 525 F.3d 805, 810
(9th Cir. 2008) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986)). "The 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 judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). On the other hand, where reasonable minds could differ
on the material facts at issue, summary judgment is not
appropriate. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250.
A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely
disputed must support the assertion by:
(A) 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
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the
absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse
party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A), (B).
party relies on an affidavit or declaration to support or
oppose a motion, it "must be made on personal knowledge,
set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show
that the affiant or declarant is competent ...