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Nesby v. Ryals

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division

August 15, 2019

BASSILLIO NESBY PLAINTIFF
v.
TIM RYALS, Sheriff, Faulkner County; CHRIS RIEDMUELLER, Captain; SCOTT HUFFMAN, Lieutenant; and BOBBIE SPIVEY, Sergeant DEFENDANTS

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         The following Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to United States District Judge Billy Roy Wilson. You may file written objections to all or part of this Recommendation. If you do so, those objections must: (1) specifically explain the factual and/or legal basis for your objection; and (2) be received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days of the date of this Recommendation. If you do not file objections, Judge Wilson can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing all of the evidence in the record. By not objecting, you may waive the right to appeal questions of fact.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Bassillio Nesby (“Nesby”) filed this pro se action alleging that, while he was incarcerated at the Faulkner County Detention Center (“FCDC”), Defendants violated his rights under the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Reformation Act (“RFRA”), and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1 (“RLUIPA”).[1]

         On June 6, 2018, the Court dismissed: (1) Nesby's RFRA claim; and (2) his claims against Defendants in their official capacities. Docs. 10 & 13. In his remaining First Amendment and RLUIPA claims, Nesby specifically alleges that: (1) Defendant Sheriff Tim Ryals (“Ryals”) refused his requests to arrange a visit with a spiritual advisor from the Jehovah's Witnesses; and (2) Defendants Ryals, Captain Chris Riedmueller (“Riedmueller”), Lieutenant Scott Huffman (“Huffman”), and Sergeant Bobbie Spivey (“Spivey”) denied his requests “for spiritual counsel” and to “study with [his] religious sect.” He seeks only monetary damages for the individual capacity claims he has asserted against Defendants. Docs. 1 & 8.[2]

         On February 12, 2019, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, a Brief in Support, and a Statement of Facts. Docs. 24, 25 & 26.[3] Although notified of his right to file a Response, Nesby has not done so. See Doc. 27. Thus, the issues are joined and ready for disposition.

         II. Facts

         Before addressing the merits of Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, the Court will summarize the relevant facts, all of which are undisputed.[4]

         1. On October 18, 2017, Nesby was booked into the FCDC for a parole violation. Doc. 26, Ex. A-1 at 2 & 7 (Arrest/Booking).

         2. In an undated intake questionnaire, he indicated his religious preference as “Jehovah Witness.” Id. at 9.

         3. On October 20, 2017, Nesby filed a grievance stating: “Need to set up a bible study with the local Jehovah Witnesses. Can you contact the kingdom hall … in Faulkner County. I need bible publications and prayer.”[5] Doc. 26, Ex. A-2 at 32 (Requests/Grievances).

         4. On October 21, 2017, he filed a grievance stating: “Would like to set up bible study with the local Jehovah Witness a.s.a.p. Thank you.” Id. at. 31.

         5. On October 23, 2017, Defendant Huffman responded to both grievances, stating that he would forward Nesby's requests to the chaplains. Id. at 31-32.

         6. On October 26, 2017, Nesby filed a grievance stating:

This is the second request to have the local Jehovah Witnesses to meet with me so I can start a bible study and receive the proper study materials that I need for my R.P. I had hoped this request would have been met with urgency since this is a fundamental right of mine. Can you whomever I am addressing resolve this matter in a timely fashion concerning it has already been a week in counting. There should be no reason for this matter to prolong any longer. Thank you.

Id. at 29. The same day, Defendant Huffman responded: “I will send a text to our Chaplains and address this now.” Id.

         7. On October 31, 2017, Nesby filed a grievance, addressed to the attention of Defendant Riedmueller, which stated: “This will be the 3rd grievance/request for a Jehovah Witness bible study which I have been here going on three weeks and I have heard nothing concerning this issue.” Id. at 26. On November 3, 2017, Defendant Huffman responded: “I have made the chaplains aware of your request.” Id.

         8. On November 3, 2017, Nesby filed a grievance stating:

Section 21 of the Faulkner County inmate rules and regulation states that inmates are allowed a one hour visit from a religious sect of his choice. I study with the Jehovah Witnesses, therefore, I would like for a study to be set up on my behalf. Thank you. Any further delay in this matter can only resolve with me filing a ACT 1983 FORM for I have exhausted the remedies by submitting 4 grievances in the order stated. 1. To the grievances officer/chaplain. 2. To the staff corporal. 3. To the staff Lt. Huffman. 4. To Capt. [Riedmueller].

Id. at 24. The same day, Defendant Huffman responded: “As stated previously, the Chaplains are aware of your request.” Id.

         9. On November 12, 2017, Nesby filed a grievance stating: “Would like to study with Jehovah Witnesses.” Id. at 22. On November 16, Defendant Spivey responded that ...


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