Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Dameon Daley v. Harley Lappin

July 24, 2012

DAMEON DALEY,
PLAINTIFF :
v.
HARLEY LAPPIN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Judge Rambo)

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is Plaintiff Dameon Daley's motion to alter or amend judgment (Doc. 53), requesting the court reconsider its memorandum and order of September 7, 2011, granting summary judgment in favor of the Defendants*fn1 in this case, (Doc. 50). For the reasons that follow, the instant motion (Doc. 53) will be denied.

I. Background

Plaintiff, an inmate incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania ("USP-Lewisburg"), initiated this action with a complaint filed under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (Doc. 1.) In the complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants denied him a diet consistent with his Rastafarian religious beliefs. He also alleged that he was forced to eat food to which he is allergic and was forced to exist primarily on apples and bread, which resulted in his becoming malnourished.

On January 28, 2011, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss and for summary judgment. (Doc. 23.) Accompanying the motion were a brief in support and a statement of material facts. (Docs. 24 & 25.) After receiving two extensions of time in which to file a brief in opposition to the motion, (see Docs. 27 & 29), Plaintiff filed a brief in opposition, counter statement of material facts, a declaration, and supporting exhibits, (Docs. 37-40). After Defendants replied to Plaintiff's brief in opposition, (see Doc. 44), the court issued a memorandum and order granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants on September 7, 2011, (Doc. 50).

Consequently, Plaintiff has filed the instant motion to alter or amend judgment. (Doc. 53.) In the motion, Plaintiff makes the following arguments: (1) the court relied on the inadmissible declaration of Chaplain Kevin Kelly in support of its judgment; (2) certain Defendants should not have been dismissed on the basis of sovereign immunity; (3) the court failed to give notice to Plaintiff that Defendants' dispositive motion would be considered a motion for summary judgment; (4) the court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants because the pleadings demonstrated genuine issues of material fact; and (5) the court erred in denying Plaintiff's claims alleging that Defendants denied him a diet appropriate for his Rastafarian religion.*fn2

II. Discussion

A motion for reconsideration is governed by Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which allows a party to move to alter or amend a judgment within twenty-eight (28) days of entry. Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e). "The purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985). A judgment may be altered or amended if the party seeking reconsideration establishes at least one of the following grounds: (1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court entered judgment; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice. Max's Seafood Cafe v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999) (citing North River Ins. Co. v. CIGNA Reinsurance Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir. 1995)). "A motion for reconsideration is not to be used as a means to reargue matters already argued and disposed of or as an attempt to relitigate a point of disagreement between the Court and the litigant." Ogden v. Keystone Residence, 226 F. Supp. 2d 588, 606 (M.D. Pa. 2002) (citation omitted). "[R]econsideration motions may not be used to raise new arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment." Hill v. Tammac Corp., No. 1:05-CV-1148, 2006 WL 529044, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Mar. 3, 2006). Lastly, reconsideration of judgment is an extraordinary remedy, and such motion should be granted sparingly. D'Angio v. Borough of Nescopeck, 56 F. Supp. 2d 502, 504 (M.D. Pa. 1999).

Applying the standard used when a party seeks reconsideration, the court will discuss Plaintiff's claims in turn.

A. Declaration in Support of Summary Judgment

Plaintiff first argues that the court should reconsider its judgment in this case because it relied on the inadmissible declaration of Chaplain Kevin Kelly that Defendants cite in their statement of material facts related to religious beliefs and practices. (See Doc. 25 ¶¶ 18-27.) Specifically, he contends that it is "highly improbable" that Chaplain Kelly would have personal knowledge that the BOP's Alternative Diet Program ("ADP") offers Plaintiff sufficient opportunity to observe his religious dietary practice and does not substantially burden the exercise of his religion. He also contends that "[i]t is even more improbable" that Chaplain Kelly could testify whether requiring Defendants to provide Plaintiff wih a Kosher vegan diet would burden Defendants. After careful review, the court disagrees with Plaintiff and will deny his motion on this claim.

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, "[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 . . . affidavits or declarations . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A). Further, "An affidavit or declaration used to support or oppose a motion must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant or declarant is competent to testify on the matters stated." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(4).

In this case, Defendants submitted the declaration of Chaplain Kevin Kelly in support of their material facts related to religious beliefs and practices. (Doc. 24-1, Ex. 2, Kelly Decl.) Chaplain Kelly, the BOP's Northeast Regional Chaplaincy Administrator, initially declared as follows:

As a part of my duties and responsibilities, I have access to inmates' records, electronic data maintained on the BOP's SENTRY computer system, Administrative Remedy data, and BOP Program Statements. I also serve as consultant to the Regional Director on matters of correctional chaplaincy. I administer, develop, implement, coordinate, and evaluate all aspects of religious ministry for each institution within the northeast region. I am knowledgeable of the beliefs and religious practices of world religions as well as religious beliefs and practices of indigenous and non-traditional groups identified within the inmate population so as to interpret faith group concerns. (Id. ¶ 1.) Further, as to Plaintiff, Chaplain Kelly declares:

Since his arrival at USP Lewisburg Plaintiff has identified his religious affiliation as Rastafarian. The Rastafarian faith was founded in 1930 with its origins in the country of Jamaica. It's [sic] foundation is rooted in African and Jamaican culture. The faith has no ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.