655 F.3d 709 (7th Cir. 2011), 10-1139, Maddox v. Love

Docket Nº:10-1139.
Citation:655 F.3d 709
Opinion Judge:TINDER, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:Mannie MADDOX, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Timothy LOVE, Jason Garnett, and Lee Ryker, Defendants-Appellees.
Attorney:Imron T. Aly (argued), Attorney, Winston & Strawn LLP, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff-Appellant. Paul Berks, Mary Ellen Welsh (argued), Attorneys, Office of the Attorney General, Civil Appeals Division, Chicago, IL, for Defendants-Appellees.
Judge Panel:Before SYKES, TINDER, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:August 24, 2011
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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655 F.3d 709 (7th Cir. 2011)

Mannie MADDOX, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Timothy LOVE, Jason Garnett, and Lee Ryker, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 10-1139.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

August 24, 2011

Argued Feb. 8, 2011.

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Imron T. Aly (argued), Attorney, Winston & Strawn LLP, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Paul Berks, Mary Ellen Welsh (argued), Attorneys, Office of the Attorney General, Civil Appeals Division, Chicago, IL, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before SYKES, TINDER, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.

TINDER, Circuit Judge.

Inmate Mannie Maddox, a member of the African Hebrew Israelite (AHI) faith since 1998, was incarcerated at Illinois Lawrence Correctional Center (Lawrence) from March 2004 to August 2007. When he arrived to serve his sentence, he no doubt was pleased to discover that an AHI minister performed religious services for AHI inmates bimonthly. Maddox regularly attended these religious services until September 2004, when the prison announced over its television channel that AHI services were cancelled until further notice. Maddox, upset about the cancellation, filed a grievance asserting a denial of religious fellowship. Lawrence denied his grievance, explaining that the service was cancelled due to budget cuts. Maddox appealed to the Grievance Officer and then to the Department Director to no avail; they upheld the denial of his grievance on the merits. During the three stages of review, Maddox was never informed that his grievance was incomplete or procedurally deficient.

Maddox filed a pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint against the prison chaplain, Timothy Love, and prison wardens, Jason Garnett and Lee Ryker (Ryker took over as warden in 2005), in their individual and official capacities alleging violations of his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc. He also asserted related state law claims under the Illinois Constitution, Art. I, §§ 2 and 3. Maddox sought declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief. In screening Maddox's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the district court reorganized Maddox's allegations to structure them into four separate counts, summarized as follows: Count 1— failure to provide reasonable access to religious materials; Counts 2 and 3— two manifestations of discrimination in allocation of the prison religious budget; and Count 4— failure to provide group worship services. This restructuring did not distinguish between federal and state law theories.

The district court dismissed Counts 2 and 3 for failure to state a claim at the screening stage. The defendants then moved for summary judgment on Counts 1 and 4, arguing that Maddox didn't properly exhaust his administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), because he didn't indicate on his grievance form who the defendants were that violated his rights, nor did he attempt to describe them. The district court granted the' motion. Maddox appeals the court's dismissal

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of Counts 2 and 3 and grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants on Counts 1 and 4.

We affirm in part and reverse and vacate in part. We reverse the dismissal of Counts 2 and 3 and vacate entry of summary judgment in favor of the defendants on Count 4 with respect to Maddox's § 1983 claims against the defendants in their individual capacities. Because Lawrence processed Maddox's grievance that he was denied religious fellowship (Count 4) on the merits without rejecting it for procedural deficiencies, the grievance served its function of providing prison officials a fair opportunity to address his complaints; we therefore find that Maddox sufficiently exhausted his administrative remedies on that claim. We further find that the district court's characterization of Counts 2 and 3 was too narrow a reading of Maddox's complaint and led to premature dismissal of his claims at the screening stage. We, however, affirm the court's dismissal of Count 1 because Maddox only complained of a failure to provide religious services in his grievance, not a failure to provide religious materials, so he didn't properly exhaust that claim.

I. Facts1

Maddox was an inmate at Lawrence from March 2004 until he was transferred to Danville Correctional Center in August 2007. He brings this complaint against three Lawrence employees: Defendant Jason Garnett, who was the warden from January 2004 through July 2005, Defendant Lee Ryker, who succeeded as the warden in October 2005, and Defendant Timothy Love, who has been the chaplain since the prison opened in 2001. Lawrence is a Level 2 secure-medium adult facility housing about 2,000 inmates. As of May 2009, the inmates at Lawrence had declared 46 different religious affiliations, which included 647 inmates who identified themselves as Christians, 313 as Baptists, 299 as Catholics, 119 as Muslims, 32 as Moorish Science Temple followers, 30 as Jehovah's Witnesses, 28 as AHIs, and 5 as Jews. In 2004, the prison offered approximately 17 regularly scheduled religious services for various religions, including services for AHI inmates.

Maddox, an AHI adherent 2 since 1998, began attending AHI services when he first arrived at Lawrence. The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) had a contract with an AHI minister 3 in Chicago

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who traveled to Lawrence (nearly a 250 mile drive) to provide service to AHI inmates. Lawrence held services bimonthly for members of the AHI religion, as well as additional services during religious holiday periods; the AHI services were supervised by Love and a security officer. The AHI minister provided inmates with religious literature and fresh fruits for religious holidays. Maddox regularly attended these services until September 2004, when he saw a message displayed on the prison's television channel that AHI services were cancelled until further notice. As Maddox later discovered, the IDOC terminated the AHI minister's contract because of budget cuts. Decisions regarding the employment of chaplains are made at the departmental level. At the time the AHI services were cancelled, the IDOC continued its contract with a rabbi from Chicago to minister to Jewish inmates in all Illinois prisons, including Lawrence.

After viewing this announcement, Maddox had two brief conversations with Warden Garnett about the cancellation of AHI services. Garnett first told Maddox there was nothing he could do and that he should talk to Chaplain Love. Garnett later told him to file a grievance. Maddox also briefly spoke with Ryker about the cancellation and Ryker told him to " talk to the person in charge of it." Despite not having religious services, Maddox still practiced his faith by receiving religious guidance from his mother over the phone and reading religious literature, including two Bibles,4 previously provided to him by the AHI minister. He also testified that he prayed in his cell and received a religious diet.

Maddox, heeding Garnett's advice, filed a grievance dated October 29, 2004, on a 2001 form provided by the IDOC. (The date of the form is significant because in 2003, Illinois Administrative Code was amended to require the inmate's grievance to include the name of the individual who is the subject of or involved in the complaint. More on this later). The form requests that the inmate provide a brief summary of the grievance. Maddox filled out the form, but did not name or attempt to describe any individual involved in his complaint. He stated that on September 10, 2004, an announcement was posted on the institution's television channel that AHI Services were cancelled until further notice. He asserted denial of religious fellowship, stating " [i]n each and every religious doctrine, one of the most fundamental concepts is in the act of ministering to those in need, to educate those who seek, and to [outwardly] pray with those who so request." He asserted that his " right to freely exercise his religion [was] abrogated, limited, and rescinded" ; he sought transfer to another facility or $20,000 in damages.

Three days after filing his grievance, a grievance counselor responded that " Chaplain Love was contacted and stated this service was cancelled due to budget cuts." Maddox's grievance was formally denied on January 12, 2005, by the Grievance Officer who issued a report stating that " [t]he facility cancelled the services due to budget cuts. While the facility has several volunteers to help with religious services, the leader of the African Hebrew Israelite services was being compensated." The report recommended the grievance be denied. It stated: " The facility is in compliance with DR 425.30 Accommodation of Religious Beliefs which is based in part on availability of resources." See 20 Ill. Admin. Code § 425.30(a) (prisoners " shall be

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provided reasonable opportunities to pursue their religious beliefs and practices subject to concerns regarding ... resources" ). Garnett, as Chief Administrative Officer, concurred with the recommendation and denied the grievance. Maddox appealed to the IDOC Director who concurred with a recommendation by the IDOC Administrative Review Board Office of Inmate Issues to deny the grievance. During these three stages of review, Maddox was never informed that his grievance was incomplete or procedurally infirm in any way.

At some point, Maddox asked Love if the AHI inmates could just meet in a group with supervision; Love rejected the idea because, according to Love, there was no one who could properly supervise the meeting. Love attested that his...

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