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Brown v. Hogsten

August 9, 2007

ABDULLAH BROWN, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS
v.
WARDEN K. HOGSTEN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. McCLURE, Jr. United States District Judge

(Judge McClure)

MEMORANDUM

Abdullah Brown, Leonard Sykes, Anthony Roberts, Timothy Haywood, Dennis Carter and Joseph Monroe initiated this pro se civil rights action regarding their prior confinement together at the Allenwood Federal Correctional Institution, White Deer, Pennsylvania ("FCI-Allenwood"). Brown, Sykes, and Haywood are no longer confined at FCI-Allenwood.

On August 16, 2006, Plaintiffs' motion requesting leave to submit an amended complaint was granted and their accompanying proposed amended complaint (Record document no. 47) was accepted. Named as Defendants therein are the following FCI-Allenwood officials: Warden K. Hogsten; Chaplain Joseph Beadle and Supervisory Chaplain Glenn Crook. Also named as Defendants are two (2) employees of the Allenwood Low Security Correctional Institution, White Deer, Pennsylvania ("LSCI-Allenwood"); Warden Jonathan Miner and Chaplain William Hoops.*fn1 The Plaintiffs identify themselves as being members of the "Sunni Muslim Faith." Record document no. 47, p. 1.

Plaintiffs indicate that the Defendants have violated Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") policy as well as their "rights under the First Amendment to practice their preferred religion" by not providing the FCI-Allenwood and LSCIAllenwood inmate populations with either a contract or a volunteer Sunni Muslim Imam. Id. at p. 2. They maintain that the Defendants have "direct knowledge" that Sunni Muslims prisoners do not have an Imam to assist them in their religious practices and have failed to provide those inmate populations with a Sunni Muslim Imam for a prolonged period of time. Id. at p. 3. The Amended Complaint concludes that the Defendants' discriminatory failure to provide a Sunni Muslim Imam as requested by the Plaintiffs violates their constitutional right of freedom of religion. Plaintiffs solely seek injunctive relief, specifically, that the Defendants be required to provide the FCI-Allenwood and LSCI-Allenwood inmate populations with a Muslim Imam.

In response to the Amended Complaint, Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b). See Record document no. 68. The motion has been briefed and is ripe for consideration.

Discussion

Defendants argue that they are entitled to dismissal of the amended complaint or summary judgment on the grounds that: (1) the case has been rendered moot; (2) the claims against Wardens Hogsten and Miner are improperly premised on a theory of respondeat superior; and (3) the doctrine of sovereign immunity bars the claims against Defendants in their official capacities. As summary judgment will be granted defendants on the basis of mootness, the court will not discuss the remaining two issues.

Standard of Review

Defendants' motion to dismiss is accompanied by evidentiary materials outside the pleadings, specifically a declaration by Supervisory Chaplain Crook which is relevant for purposes of determining the issue of mootness. See Record document no. 69, Exhibit 1. Rule 12(b) provides in part as follows:

If, on a motion asserting the defense numbered (6) to dismiss for failure of the pleading to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, matters outside the pleading are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment and disposed of as provided in Rule 56, and all parties shall be given reasonable opportunity to present all material made pertinent to such a motion by Rule 56.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b). The Court will not exclude Defendant Crook's declaration accompanying the Defendants' motion. Thus, their motion will be treated as solely seeking summary judgment.

It is further noted that the Plaintiffs' response to the dispositive motion which appears to have been prepared by Inmate Brown, similarly deems the Defendants' motion as seeking summary judgment. See Record document no. 71, p. 1.

Summary judgment is appropriate if the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is ...


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