United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER [RESOLVING ECF NO.
Y. PEARSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
se Plaintiff Thomas Klein, a prisoner in the Ohio State
Penitentiary, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Ohio State Penitentiary Warden Richard A. Bowen, Deputy
Warden Palmer, Mail Room Supervisor Lt. Bowen, and Chaplain
Rader. For the reasons that follow, the Court dismisses
Plaintiff's claims against all Defendants.
is an inmate incarcerated at the Ohio State Penitentiary. ECF
No. 1 at PageID #: 2. He alleges that he desired to obtain a
“Black Sun Necklace with Runes.” Id. at
PageID #: 3; ECF No. 1-9. Plaintiff claims the necklace is a
religious pendant representative of his status as a member of
the Odinism faith. ECF No. 1 at PageID #: 3-4. Plaintiff
alleges he was not sure of the “exact rules”
pertaining to obtaining permission for a religious pendant.
Id. at PageID #: 3. He first wrote to Lt. Bowen to
ask whether his ordering the pendant he desired “was
going to be a problem.” Id. at PageID #: 5.
Lt. Bowen told Plaintiff that he should kite his unit manager
or the prison chaplain. ECF No. 1-6 at PageID #: 21.
Plaintiff complied, kiting Chaplain Rader. ECF No. 1 at
PageID #: 5. In response, Chaplain Rader directed Plaintiff
to submit a request for religious accommodation form.
completed and submitted a request for religious accommodation
form. Id. Before he received a response to his
request, he ordered the pendant, assuming that there was no
legitimate reason to deny his request. Id. at PageID
#: 5-6. Chaplain Rader, however, denied Plaintiff's
religious accommodation request, finding that Plaintiff
“did not articulate the connection of the Black Sun to
his faith” and did not follow the prison's
procedure for requesting religious accommodations.
Id. at PageID #: 6; ECF Nos. 1-2, 1-3. At Chaplain
Rader's direction, Lt. Bowen confiscated the pendant as
contraband. ECF No. 1 at PageID #: 6.
response, Plaintiff initiated the grievance process by filing
an informal complaint resolution form with Deputy Warden
Palmer. Id. Palmer and Warden Bowen upheld Chaplain
Rader's decision. Id. Plaintiff then sent an
informal complaint to Lt. Bowen. ECF No. 1-12. In response,
Plaintiff received a Notice of an Unauthorized Item Received,
informing him that the item was seized as nuisance
contraband. ECF No. 1-10. Plaintiff again wrote to Lt. Bowen,
who notified Plaintiff that he should write to Chaplain
Rader. ECF No. 1-13.
subsequently filed two Notification of Grievance forms. ECF
Nos. 1-15, 1-16. The grievances were denied on the grounds
that Plaintiff violated ODRC policy by ordering his necklace
prior to obtaining approval for his request for a religious
accommodation and Plaintiff failed to “articulate the
connection of the black sun to [his] faith.” ECF Nos.
appealed the denial of his grievances. ECF No. 6 at PageID #:
134. Plaintiff received a response from the Religious
Services Administrator, providing that “[I]t seems that
this is a matter of proper procedure related to the
expectation of the institution regarding receipt of the item
into the facility. Please discuss the appropriate process for
approval and for the potential obtaining the item with your
institution chaplain and/or unit staff.” ECF No. 6-1.
was subsequently informed:
In accordance with 61-PRP-01(c)(3) Items may only be ordered
from current DRC approved vendor catalog. A religious
accommodation allows you to order from additional vendors. In
accordance with 72 Reg 02 please follow the procedures and
make the request [for a religious accommodation] using DRC
4326 prior to completing the requested activity.
ECF No. 6-2.
has not alleged that he re-submitted a request for a
religious accommodation using DRC 4326, as instructed.
Instead, he contends that he need not comply with the
prison's religious accommodation procedure. ECF No. 6 at
PageID #: 135.
Standard of Review
se pleadings are liberally construed by the Court.
Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per
curiam); Haines v. Kerner,404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).
Nonetheless, the district court is required to dismiss an
in forma pauperis action under 28 U.S.C.
§1915(e) if it fails to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted, or if it lacks an arguable basis in law or
fact. Neitzke v. Williams,490 U.S. 319 (1989);
Lawler v. Marshall,898 F.2d 1196 (6th Cir. 1990);
Sistrunk v. City of Strongsville,99 F.3d 194, 197
(6th Cir. 1996). An action has no arguable basis in law when
a defendant is immune from suit or when a plaintiff claims a
violation of a legal interest which clearly does not exist.
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. An action has no arguable