United States District Court, D. Colorado
Brooke Jackson United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on defendant Fran LePage's
motion to dismiss, ECF No. 34, and Magistrate Judge Nina Y.
Wang's report and recommendation, ECF No. 54. Judge Wang
recommended that this Court grant Ms. LePage's motion to
dismiss, and Mr. Mares timely objected to Judge Wang's
recommendation. ECF Nos. 54, 60. After reviewing the briefing
and relevant law, I find that the motion to dismiss must be
Judge Wang provided a detailed summary of the procedural and
factual background of this case in her Recommendation.
See ECF No. 54 at 1-14. To briefly highlight the
relevant facts, Mr. Mares is an inmate under the supervision
of the Colorado Department of Corrections
(“CDOC”), and Ms. LePage is a Program Manager at
the Pueblo County Detention Center, a CDOC facility. ECF No.
15. Mr. Mares filed a complaint asserting, among other claims
and against additional defendants, that Ms. LePage wrongfully
violated his rights under the First Amendment and Religious
Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
(“RLUIPA”) when she denied his request to change
his religion to Judaism and thus receive kosher diet meals.
ECF No. 15. Mr. Mares later asserted that Ms. LePage also
failed to provide him with a personal copy of the Torah and
failed to facilitate the visitation of a rabbi to the
detention center. ECF No. 39. Following the screening process
undertaken pursuant to § 1915(e)(2), Judge Babcock of
this Court dismissed all of Mr. Mares' claims except for
the First Amendment and RLUIPA claims and dismissed all
defendants other than Ms. LePage. Judge Babcock also noted
that the Eleventh Amendment disallowed Ms. LePage from being
liable in her official capacity for any monetary damages. ECF
No. 12 at 13. The case was then assigned to this Court and
Magistrate Judge Wang. Ms. LePage filed the pending Motion to
Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. ECF No. 34. Magistrate Judge Wang reviewed the
motion to dismiss and recommended that it be granted, ECF No.
54. Mr. Mares timely objected to her recommendation. ECF No.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Magistrate Judge Wang's Recommendation.
magistrate judge makes a recommendation on a dispositive
motion, the district court “must determine de novo any
part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been
properly objected to.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). An
objection is sufficiently specific if it “focus[es] the
district court's attention on the factual and legal
issues that are truly in dispute.” United States v.
2121 E. 30th St., 73 F.3d 1057, 1060 (10th Cir. 1996).
In the absence of a timely and specific objection, “the
district court may review a magistrate's report under any
standard it deems appropriate.” Summers v.
Utah, 927 F.2d 1165, 1167 (10th Cir. 1991).
Mares timely objected to Magistrate Judge Wang's
recommendation. ECF No. 60. Specifically, Mr. Mares objects
to Magistrate Judge Wang's findings with regard to the
First Amendment claim. It does not appear that Mr. Mares
objects to Magistrate Judge Wang's recommendations as to
the RLUIPA claim. See Id. However, in the interests
of thoroughness and finality, I will review both the First
Amendment and the RLUIPA claim de novo.
Rule 12(b)(6) - Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a
survive a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the complaint must
contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face.” Ridge at Red Hawk,
L.L.C. v. Schneider, 493 F.3d 1174, 1177 (10th Cir.
2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007)). While the Court must accept the
well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true and
construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff,
Robbins v. Wilkie, 300 F.3d 1208, 1210 (10th Cir.
2002), purely conclusory allegations are not entitled to be
presumed true, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 681
(2009). However, so long as the plaintiff offers sufficient
factual allegations such that the right to relief is raised
above the speculative level, he has met the threshold
pleading standard. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.
“The court's function on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is
not to weigh potential evidence that the parties might
present at trial, but to assess whether the plaintiff's
complaint alone is legally sufficient to state a claim for
which relief may be granted.” Sutton v. Utah State
Sch. for Deaf & Blind, 173 F.3d 1226, 1236 (10th
Cir. 1999) (quoting Miller v. Glanz, 948 F.2d 1562,
1565 (10th Cir. 1991)).
Mares seeks both damages and injunctive relief for the
alleged First Amendment and RLUIPA violations in this case.
See ECF No. 10 at 18 (noting that he seeks damages
in the amount of $300, 000 and injunctive relief from Ms.
LePage's alleged wrongdoing). However, I find that Mr.
Mares' prayer for injunctive relief is moot because he is
no longer housed at the Pueblo County Detention Center (where
the alleged wrongs occurred), he presents no evidence that he
will be housed there again, and he admits that Ms. LePage in
fact permitted him to change his religion and receive kosher
meals prior to his transfer away from the Pueblo County
Detention Center. See ECF No. 39 at 4-5. Therefore,
there is no “continuing injury” and this Court
lacks jurisdiction concerning his request for an injunction.
See Jordan v. Sosa, 654 F.3d 1012, 1024 (10th Cir.
2011) (holding that a prisoner's claim for injunctive
relief is moot if he or she is no longer subjected to the
conditions complained of in the pleading).
addition, Judge Babcock dismissed any claims for monetary
relief against Ms. LePage in her official capacity based on
the Eleventh Amendment. ECF No. 12 at 13. Therefore, the only
form of relief that Mr. Mares can receive is monetary relief
for claims against Ms. LePage in her individual capacity.
Because the Tenth Circuit has determined that “[t]here
is no cause of action under RLUIPA for individual-capacity
claims, ” Stewart v. Beach, 701 F.3d 1322,
1335 (10th Cir. 2012), I can quickly determine that Mr.
Mares' RLUIPA claim against Ms. LePage fails and must be
dismissed. As such, the only remaining claim is Mr.
Mares' First Amendment claim against Ms. LePage in her
motion to dismiss, Ms. LePage argues that Mr. Mares'
First Amendment claim fails for two reasons. First, she
argues that Mr. Mares' pleadings about his religious
beliefs are vague, conclusory, and fail to meet the required
pleading standards. ECF No. 34 at 5. Second, she argues that
Mr. Mares' allegations about Ms. LePage's conduct
fall short of establishing the personal ...