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Broyles v. Presley

United States District Court, D. Kansas

March 6, 2018



          Sam A. Crow, U.S. District Senior Judge.

         When the plaintiff John Elbert Broyles II filed his civil rights complaint, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, he was an inmate at the Graham County Jail. ECF# 1, p. 1. After the court's screening order, Mr. Broyles informed the court that he had been returned to Saline County Jail. ECF# 12, p. 1. Even more recently, the court has learned from Mr. Broyles' filings that Saline County has again transferred him to another county's facility. Mr. Broyles is currently housed at Cloud County Jail. In his latest letter addressed to the Clerk of the Court, Mr. Broyles asks if he is “allowed to include the Cloud County Jail” and its employees as defendants in this case. ECF#18. Having filed a separate complaint that alleges unrelated events separate and distinct in time, facility and actors, the court filed Mr. Broyles' complaint as a separate action. See Broyles v. Marks, No. 18-3030-SAC. In the instant case, Mr. Broyles claims are limited to those which he has alleged in his original complaint.


         As filed, Broyles' complaint names four defendants in his caption, but his factual allegations can only be linked with two of them, Cole Presley, as sheriff and administrator of Graham County Jail, and Tina Miller, as supervisor of classifications for diet and administrative status at Saline County Jail. ECF# 1. Consequently, on its screening, the court dismissed the other two named defendants, City of Salina and State of Kansas. ECF# 6, pp. 5-6.

         Broyles' complaint includes three causes of action. For his first count, he alleges his First Amendment right to follow the dietary tenets of his Jewish religion were violated when he was serving his sentence at the Saline County Jail and receiving Kosher meals only to have the Saline County Jail transfer him to the Graham County facility where no Kosher meals were provided. He made numerous grievances to both jails asking for a transfer back to Saline County Jail and for a kosher meal to be provided, but his grievances and requests were ignored. For his second count, he alleges the confinement conditions at the Graham County Jail violated his Eighth Amendment rights. Specifically, he was denied recreation and outdoor exercise and denied a proper nutritional diet because all food was prepared by “microwave” and was “totally unhealthy.” For his third count, he alleges his Fourteenth Amendment right to equally exercise his religion practices the same as other prisoners in Saline County jail “or [in] any other facility of confinement” were violated. ECF# 1, p. 6.

         As for the factual allegations in his complaint, Broyles says he was serving a jail sentence at Saline County Jail since November 21, 2016, when he was transferred to the Graham County Jail on June 27, 2017. Id. at p. 3 He practices the “Jewish faith, ‘Yahweh Assembly in Yahshua'” and “adhere(s) to a strict ‘kosher' religion diet.” Id. at p. 2. At the Saline County Jail, he had been receiving a “partial ‘Kosher' diet.” Id. at p. 3. As evident from the above summary, Broyles' complaint includes no claim based on the Kosher meals received at the Saline County Jail. Instead, his only claim related to the Saline County Jail is based on his transfer to a facility where his kosher diet requirements could not be met and on the denial of his requests for another transfer. Regarding the Graham County Jail, Broyles complains about the lack of Kosher meals and the following conditions:

The entire diet (menu) this facility offers is prepared by microwave oven. They provide no milk, fresh vegetables or fruits. No nutrients whatsoever! Lastly, no space or recreation area, nor opportunity to go outside or to a specific recreation area.

ECF# 1, p. 3. He alleges having filed grievances with both jails seeking transfers back to the Saline County Jail. He denies receiving formal responses to his grievances. For relief, Mr. Broyles requests housing “at a facility that provides a Kosher diet” and monetary awards from Saline County Jail, Graham County Jail, and the State of Kansas. Id. at p. 7.

         Pursuant to its statutory duty, the court initially screened Broyles' complaint looking for any claim that was “frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted” or that sought “monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief, ” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). The court applied the following standards. A court liberally construes a pro se complaint and applies “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). All well-pleaded allegations in the complaint are accepted as true. Anderson v. Blake, 469 F.3d 910, 913 (10th Cir. 2006). But, “when the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief, ” dismissal is appropriate. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 558 (2007). Courts “look to the specific allegations in the complaint to determine whether they plausibly support a legal claim for relief.” Kay v. Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214, 1218 (10th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted).

         In its screening order, the court noted that it appeared that Mr. Broyles could allege against a Saline County Jail official a claim for knowingly transferring him to interfere with the exercise of his religious belief in a kosher diet and for then not transferring him back after he complained about the lack of a kosher diet. The court also said it appeared that Mr. Broyles could allege against a Graham County Jail official a claim for failing to provide him a kosher diet and for denying him all outside exercise for months. The Court, however, found that the proper processing of these claims could not go forward without additional information from appropriate officials at both jails. See Martinez v. Aaron, 570 F.2d 317, 319 (10th Cir. 1978). The Martinez report was to provide an opportunity for jail officials to investigate the events in question and to construct an administrative record from that investigation. Id. at 319. This report's purpose is to create a sufficient record from which “to ascertain whether there are any factual or legal bases for the prisoner's claims.'” Breedlove v. Costner, 405 Fed.Appx. 338, 343 (10th Cir. 2010) (unpub.), cert. denied, 563 U.S. 965 (2011) (quoting Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1109 (10th Cir. 1991)). “This process is designed to aid the court in fleshing out possible legal bases of relief from unartfully drawn pro se complaints, not to resolve material factual issues.” Northington v. Jackson, 973 F.2d 1518, 1521 (10th Cir. 1992) (citation omitted).

         The defendant B. Cole Presley, sheriff of Graham County, Kansas, averred that his office is responsible for operating the county jail which is the only detention facility in Graham County. His office is comprised of three full-time and one part-time law enforcement officers and four fulltime dispatchers. None of the employees work full-time in jail operations, and both dispatchers and officers “share the responsibility of meal and medication preparation and management.” ECF# 9, p. 2. Graham County has contracted with Saline County to hold inmates, and the plaintiff came to Graham County jail pursuant to this contract hold. When Mr. Broyles arrived, he informed staff of his religious requirements for diet, and he was told the jail could only accommodate the requirement of no pork products being served. Sheriff Presley avers that substitute products were purchased and served and that the plaintiff's daily menu was adjusted with only one recorded incident of pork sausage being provided accidentally. Sheriff Presley avers that a review of the plaintiff's complaints or requests show he first requested a transfer back to Saline County on September 18, 2017. In that request, Mr. Broyles stated that he had made multiple attempts for transfer. Sheriff Presley concedes that Graham County jail has no “outside exercise area of any kind to afford inmates a dedicated area to be outside in a secure manner.” ECF# 9, p. 4. He further states:

Given the small area within the jail, when the population is at 12, exercise can be difficult. As this applies to Mr. Broyles, a weekly census of the jail population shows an average weekly population of 4 inmates providing for the space needed to exercise with plenty of space (Exhibit H). A review of complaints or requests from Mr. Broyles file (Exhibit E) also shows that no request to go outside or for other accommodations for exercise have been made by him.

ECF# 9, p. 5.

         Mr. Broyles has filed a lengthy response to Sheriff Presley's affidavit. ECF# 16. He primarily argues inferences to be drawn from the affidavit and from the attached exhibits and admissions as showing that the jail was not equipped to and failed to provide him Kosher meals. He notes that the jail did not provide Kosher meals but only attempted to remove pork products from his meals and occasionally failed at this. Mr. Broyles is also critical of the jail staff's efforts at communicating with ...

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