United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL T. PARKER, Magistrate Judge.
THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment . Having considered the Motion, applicable law, and case record, the Court finds that the Motion  should be granted.
On April 15, 2013, Plaintiff Patrick D'Antre Fluker, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis , filed his Complaint  pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 1331. This lawsuit arises from events which took place while Plaintiff was a post-conviction inmate at South Mississippi Corrections Institution ("SMCI") in Leakesville, Mississippi. Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Walnut Grove Correctional Facility ("WGCF") in Walnut Grove, Mississippi. In his complaint and as clarified in his testimony at the Spears  hearing, Plaintiff asserts claims against Superintendent Ronald King and Deputy Warden Hubert Davis for violations of his First Amendment right to free exercise of religion, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act ("RLUIPA"), and the Equal Protection Clause.
According to Plaintiff, for a period of time during his incarceration at SMCI, he was housed in restrictive custody, a section of the prison reserved for inmates who violated prison rules. Inmates housed in restrictive custody have fewer privileges. Plaintiff alleges that while he was in restrictive custody, Defendants Ronald King and Hubert Davis implemented a new policy prohibited inmates in restrictive custody from attending activities outside of their unit, including religious services. Plaintiff alleges that the new policy prohibited him from attending Jum'ah services, Islamic prayer services observed on Fridays.
Plaintiff alleges that he spoke to Defendant King and requested that he be allowed to attend Jum'ah services, but Defendant King denied his request. Plaintiff also alleges that he filed a grievance requesting that he be allowed to attend Jum'ah services, but Defendant Davis denied his request.
Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that he, as a Muslim, experienced discrimination. According to Plaintiff, on January 16, 2013, restrictive custody inmates of the Jehovah Witness faith were allowed to attend services. Plaintiff also alleges that on March 27, 2013, certain restrictive custody inmates were allowed to attend "Kairos" services.
As relief, Plaintiff seeks to have the Court require Defendants to allow restrictive custody inmates to attend Jum'ah services. Additionally, Plaintiff seeks punitive damages. Defendants have moved for summary judgment, arguing that they are entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.
STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
A motion for summary judgment will be granted only when "the record indicates that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'" Causey v. Sewell Cadillac-Chevrolet, Inc. , 394 F.3d 285, 288 (5th Cir. 2004) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)). The Court must view "the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Id. However, the nonmoving party "cannot defeat summary judgment with conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or only a scintilla of evidence.'" Turner v. Baylor Richardson Medical Center , 476 F.3d 337, 343 (5th Cir. 2007) (quoting Little v. Liquid Air Corp. , 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994)). In the absence of proof, the Court does not "assume that the nonmoving party could or would prove the necessary facts." Little , 37 F.3d at 1075 (emphasis omitted).
First, the Court will consider Plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief in the form of an order requiring Defendants to allow restrictive custody inmates to attend Jum'ah services. In their Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants argue that because Plaintiff is no longer housed in restrictive custody and is no longer restricted from attending Jum'ah services, his claim for injunctive relief is moot. The Court notes that, after Defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff was transferred to WGCF and is no longer housed at SMCI. See Notice .
The transfer of an inmate from an allegedly offending institution generally renders his claims for injunctive relief moot. See Oliver v. Scott , 276 F.3d 736, 741 (5th Cir. 2002). In order for Plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief to remain viable, he must establish a "demonstrated probability" or a "reasonable expectation" that he will be transferred back to restrictive custody at SMCI. Id. Plaintiff argues that "he may find himself back in C-Custody...." Response  at 6. Plaintiff's argument, however, is merely speculation and does not establish a "demonstrated probability" or a "reasonable expectation" that he will be returned to restrictive custody at SMCI. See Herman v. Holiday , 238 F.3d 660, 665 (5th Cir. 2001) (finding that "any suggestion of relief based on the possibility of transfer back... is too speculative to warrant relief"); Davis v. Wall , 1995 WL 136204, at *2 n.3 (5th ...