United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Cynthia Reed Eddy Chief United States Magistrate Judge
a former prisoner at Westmoreland County Prison,
brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons
Act (“RLUIPA”). Plaintiff's claims arise from
various alleged constitutional violations which occurred
during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in 2018. Named as
defendants are a number of Westmoreland County Prison
officials and employees, including the Warden, Warden of
Security, Warden of Treatment, Operations Manager, a kitchen
employee, and several correctional officers; a physician
assistant; the Chaplain; and two nutritionists, employees of
Nutrition, Inc., the company that provides food service
management and operation at the Westmoreland County Prison.
All defendants are sued in their individual
capacities. Complaint, ¶ 62. (ECF No. 7).
alleges, inter alia, that during the month of
Ramadan in 2018, he was served only two meals daily, both of
which were nutritionally inadequate and routinely arrived
past the time that he was permitted to eat, and that he was
not provided with Halal food. He alleges that all Defendants
during the relevant time (1) failed to provide him with a
well-balanced meal with adequate nutrition three times a day;
(2) imposed a nutritionally inadequate diet; (3) failed to
accommodate his fasting requirements; (4) deprived him of
basic human necessities; and (5) discriminated against him
due to “deep seated prejudice against Muslims and in an
attempt to turn one from Islam.” Complaint, ¶ 58.
pending is the motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and motion for a more definite
statement pursuant to Federal Rule Civil Procedure 12(e)
filed by Defendants Barbara Loebach and Jeff, LNU. (ECF No.
36). Plaintiff filed a response in opposition. (ECF No. 48).
The matter is ripe for disposition
of Review - Motion to Dismiss
applicable standard under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) is well settled. In considering a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion, federal courts require notice pleading, as opposed to
the heightened pleading of fact pleading. Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2) requires only “ ‘a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief,' in order to ‘give the defendant fair
notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds on which it
rests'.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).
upon the landmark United States Supreme Court decisions in
Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662
(2009), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third
Circuit explained that a district court must undertake the
following three steps to determine the sufficiency of a
First, the court must “tak[e] note of the elements a
plaintiff must plead to state a claim.” Second, the
court should identify allegations that, “because they
are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the
assumption of truth.” Third, “whe[n] there are
well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their
veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise
to an entitlement for relief.” This means that our
inquiry is normally broken into three parts: (1) identifying
the elements of the claim (2) reviewing the Complaint to
strike conclusory allegations, and then (3) looking at the
well-pleading components of the Complaint and evaluating
whether all of the elements identified in part one of the
inquiry are sufficiently alleged.
Malleus v. George, 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir.
2011)(quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675, 679).
third step of the sequential evaluation requires this Court
to consider the specific nature of the claims presented and
to determine whether the facts pled to substantiate the
claims are sufficient to show a “plausible claim for
relief.” Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d
203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). “While legal conclusions can
provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported
by factual allegations.” Id. at 210-11;
see also Malleus, 641 F.3d at 560.
Court may not dismiss a complaint merely because it appears
unlikely or improbable that plaintiff can prove the facts
alleged or will ultimately prevail on the merits.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563 n.3. Instead, this Court
must ask whether the facts alleged raise a reasonable
expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the
necessary elements. Id. at 556. Generally speaking,
a complaint that provides adequate facts to establish
“how, when, and where” will survive a motion to
dismiss. Fowler, 578 F.3d at 212. In short, a motion
to dismiss should not be granted if a party alleges facts,
which could, if established at trial, entitle him or her to
relief. Twombly, 550 U.S at 563 n. 8.
of Review - Motion for More Definite Statement
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e) permits a party to “move
for a more definite statement of a pleading to which a
responsive pleading is allowed but which is so vague or
ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a
response.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). Rule 12(e) is part of
the “district court's case-management arsenal,
” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 593 n.13, that, in
conjunction with the rest of Rule 12 and Rule 8, serves
“to frame and govern [the] court's assessment of
the quality of a pleading.” Sony BMG Music Entm
't v. Cloud, No. 08-1200, 2008 WL 3895895, at *2
(E.D.Pa. Aug. 22, 2008). Generally speaking, “Rule
12(e) motions are disfavored in light of the liberal pleading
standards established by Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a).”
Transport Int'l Pool, Inc. v. Ross Stores, Inc.,
No. 06-1812, 2009 WL 1033601, at *2 (E.D.Pa. Apr. 15, 2009);
see also Country Classics at Morgan Hill Homeowners'
Ass'n v. Country Classics at Morgan Hill, LLC, 780
F.Supp.2d 367, 371 (E.D.Pa. 2011) (“[M]otions for a
more definite statement are ...