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Dennison v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

January 16, 2015

Andre Almond Dennison, Plaintiff,
v.
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

EILEEN S. WILLETT, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff is confined in the Arizona State Prison Complex-Eyman. He filed a pro se civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 (Doc. 1), alleging three claims for relief against Defendant Ryan.

In Count One, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Ryan denied Plaintiff a diet consistent with his religious beliefs in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). Plaintiff states that Defendant has placed Plaintiff on a vegan diet inconsistent with the tenets of Plaintiff's Seventh-Day Adventist faith. Plaintiff asserts that his faith requires a diet consisting of fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, grains, legumes, nuts, and dairy products. Plaintiff argues that the failure to provide a proper diet substantially burdens the practice of Plaintiff's religion. (Doc. 1)

In Count Two, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Ryan has violated Plaintiff's First Amendment right to the free exercise of his religion due to the same factual basis as set forth in Count One. (Doc. 1)

In Count Three, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Ryan violated Plaintiff's equal protection rights because similarly situated inmates of other religions receive diets consistent with their religious beliefs. (Doc. 1)

On October 14, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel (Doc. 29). Plaintiff seeks more complete responses to requests for interrogatories and production propounded on Defendant on May 15, 2014. The parties first attempted to resolve the issues pending by good faith personal consultation over the phone and in writing. Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Doc. 40) was filed November 12, 2014. Plaintiff's Reply (Doc. 44) was filed December 2, 2014. The matter is deemed submitted for decision.

The law provides that a party may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to a party's claim. The relevant information need not be admissible at trial if it is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). All discovery is, however, subject to reasonable limitations by the Court when "the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C)(iii).

I. INTERROGATORIES

No. 16: "How Many Jews, Who Receive Kosher Meals, Are There In ADC?"

Defendant is able to provide the number of inmates who have established a sincere, religious reason for requesting a Kosher diet and received a Kosher diet while incarcerated at the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC). This information is tracked and relevant. The Court orders Defendant to disclose the number of inmates who have established a sincere, religious reason for requesting Kosher meals and have received them from January 2013 to the present. The Defendant also tracks the number of inmates who identify Judaism as their religious preference. Various faiths have recognized tenets inherent in those faiths. Judaism is one such faith. Therefore, the number of inmates who identify themselves with Judaism is relevant. The Court orders the Defendant to disclose the number of inmates who have identified Judaism as their religious preference from January 2013 to the present. It is not necessary, however, to hand count the overlap of these two fields of data. The burden of such an exercise is outweighed by the minimal probative value of the data sought. Because presumably religious diets offered by ADC are not restricted to a particular religion, and because the Defendant admits that some inmates that identify as Jewish also receive Kosher diets, the overlap number is not relevant. It is further undisputed that the cost to Defendant per meal type offered is not related to or impacted by the number of people who request each meal type or eat each meal type.

Therefore, the Motion to Compel is granted in part and denied in part as set forth above as to Interrogatory No. 16.

No. 17: "How Many Jewish Prisoners Are Receiving Kosher Meals At Rynning Unit?" For the reasons set forth in the Court's analysis of Interrogatory No. 16,

It is ordered that Defendant provide the number of inmates at Rynning Unit who have established a sincere, religious reason for requesting a Kosher diet while incarcerated and received a Kosher meal plan from January 2013 to the present.

It is further ordered that Defendant provide the number of inmates at Rynning Unit who have identified Judaism as their religious preference from January 2013 to the present. Plaintiff's Motion to Compel is granted in part and denied in part as to Interrogatory No. 17.

No. 18: "How Many Halaal practicing Muslims Are Receiving Halaal Compliant Meals in ADC?"

The Defendant has indicated that ADC tracks religious preference and meal plan. There is no meal plan designated as "Halaal Compliant." However, Defendant tracks individuals who identify their religious preference as Muslim. There are also individuals who express a sincere, religious reason for requesting Kosher and/or ...


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