United States District Court, D. Alaska
ANAS A. DOWL, inmate #345639, and ERNEST A. JACOBBSON, inmate # 403566, Plaintiffs,
DEAN WILLIAMS, Commissioner, Alaska Department of Corrections, et al., Defendants.
Russel Holland United States District Judge
for Temporary Restraining Order
Anas A. Dowl and Ernest A. Jacobbson are inmates at the
Anchorage Correctional Complex, and they are practicing
Muslims. In their verified complaint, plaintiffs
state that during Ramadan, which this year started on May 16,
2018 and ends on June 15, 2018,  they are being provided two
cold, bagged meals to eat in their cells after sunset but
that these meals do not contain sufficient nutrition and at
times have contained pork products. More specifically,
plaintiffs state that the bagged meals contain only
approximately 500 to 1100 calories per day, “which is
substantially lower than what is required under [the
Department of Corrections'] Policy and Procedure
Directive 805.01 ‘Food Service Standards, ' and the
[federal] ‘Dietary Guidelines for Americans
2015-2020.'”Plaintiffs contend that per the federal
guidelines, they should be receiving between 2600 and 2800
calories per day. Plaintiffs further contend that on the
days that their bagged meals contain bologna sandwiches,
which they believe contain pork product and which they cannot
eat, they are receiving even fewer calories.
now move for a temporary restraining order compelling
defendants to provide plaintiffs and all other fasting Muslim
inmates with nutritionally adequate, and pork-free, meals
during Ramadan. A hearing on the motion was held on May 24,
2018, at which counsel for plaintiffs and counsel for the
Alaska Department of Corrections participated.
“[T]he legal standards applicable to TROs and
preliminary injunctions are ‘substantially
identical.'” Wash. v. Trump, 847 F.3d
1151, 1159 n.3 (9th Cir. 2017) (quoting Stuhlbarg
Int'l Sales Co., Inc. v. John D. Brush & Co.,
Inc., 240 F.3d 832, 839 n.7 (9th Cir. 2001)). “A
party seeking a preliminary injunction must meet one of two
variants of the same standard.” Alliance for the
Wild Rockies v. Pena, 865 F.3d 1211, 1217 (9th Cir.
2017). “Under the original Winter standard, a
party must show ‘that he is likely to succeed on the
merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the
absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities
tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public
interest.'” Id. (quoting Winter v.
Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008)).
“Under the ‘sliding scale' variant of the
Winter standard, ‘if a plaintiff can only show
that there are serious questions going to the merits-a lesser
showing than likelihood of success on the merits-then a
preliminary injunction may still issue if the balance of
hardships tips sharply in the plaintiff's favor,
' and the other two Winter factors are
satisfied.'” Id. (quoting Shell
Offshore, Inc. v. Greenpeace, Inc., 709 F.3d 1281, 1291
(9th Cir. 2013)). A plaintiff need not establish that he is
likely to succeed on the merits of all his claims. A
TRO or preliminary injunction may issue if a plaintiff can
show he is likely to succeed on one claim and that he meets
the other three requirements for injunctive relief.
League of Wilderness Defenders/Blue Mountains
Biodiversity Project v. Connaughton, 752 F.3d 755, 766
n.3 (9th Cir. 2014).
Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 “‘requires
that a prisoner challenging prison conditions exhaust
available administrative remedies before filing
suit.'” Jackson v. Fong, 870 F.3d 928, 933
(9th Cir. 2017) (quoting Albino v. Baca, 747 F.3d
1162, 1165 (9th Cir. 2014)). Plaintiffs state that they each
filed an emergency grievance on May 21, 2018, and that on May
22, 2018, defendants determined that these grievances were
not emergen-cies. Because the Emergency Grievance procedure
provides that the decision as to whether an issue constitutes
an emergency is not administratively appealable,
plaintiffs have exhausted the Emergency Grievance procedure.
The court concludes that, for purposes of the instant motion,
plaintiffs have exhausted their available administrative
then to the merits of plaintiffs' motion for a TRO,
plaintiffs only argue that they are likely to succeed on
their claim in Count II that defendants have violated The
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
Section 3 of RLUIPA provides, in relevant part, that
“[n]o government shall impose a substantial burden on
the religious exercise of a person residing in or confined to
an institution . . . even if the burden results from a rule
of general applicability, ” unless the
government establishes that the burden furthers “a
compelling governmental interest, ” and does
so by “the least restrictive means.”
Warsoldier v. Woodford, 418 F.3d 989, 994 (9th Cir.
2005) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a)(1)-(2)).
burden is substantial under RLUIPA when the state
‘denies [an important benefit] because of conduct
mandated by religious belief, thereby putting substantial
pressure on an adherent to modify his behavior and to violate
his beliefs.'” Shakur v. Schriro, 514 F.3d
878, 888 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Warsoldier, 418
F.3d at 995). Courts “have repeatedly held that forcing
an inmate to choose between daily nutrition and religious
practice is a substantial burden.” Thompson v.
Holm, 809 F.3d 376, 380 (7th Cir. 2016); see
also, McElyea v. Babbitt, 833 F.2d 196, 198
(9th Cir. 1987) (“[i]nmates . . . have the right to be
provided with food sufficient to sustain them in good health
that satisfies the dietary laws of their religion”).
Plaintiffs contend that they are being provided with Ramadan
meals that contain only 500 to 1100 calories per day, rather
than the recommended federal guideline caloric intake of 2600
to 2800 calories per day. Even if plaintiffs received
sufficient food on some days, there is evidence that they
have not received sufficient food every day. At least one
court has held that having insufficient food on only two days
constituted a substantial burden. Thompson, 809 F.3d
at 380. The court cannot perceive of any compelling
governmental interest that would be furthered by providing
plaintiffs with Ramadan meals that do not contain sufficient
nutrition or that contain pork product. That it may cost
slightly more to feed Muslim prisoners during Ramadan is not
a compelling interest, given that RLUIPA “‘may
require a government to incur expenses in its own operations
to avoid imposing a substantial burden on religious
exercise.'” Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores,
Inc., 134 S.Ct. 2751, 2781 (2014) (quoting 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000cc-3). In sum, based on the facts as stated in
plaintiffs' verified complaint, plaintiffs have shown
that they are likely to succeed on their RLUIPA claim in
plaintiffs have shown that they are likely to succeed on one
of their RLUIPA claims, they have met the other requirements
for a TRO. “[T]he loss of religious freedom caused by a
RLUIPA violation-standing alone-is sufficient to show
irreparable harm. . . .” Harris v. Wall, 217
F.Supp.3d 541, 560 (D.R.I. 2016). Plaintiffs are also being
irreparably harmed because they may not be receiving adequate
nutrition on a daily basis. As for the balance of equities
and public interest, “[i]t is clear that it would not
be equitable or in the public's interest to allow the
state . . . to violate the requirements of federal
law[.]'” Ariz. Dream Act Coalition v.
Brewer, 757 F.3d 1053, 1069 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Valle del Sol Inc. v. Whiting, 732 F.3d 1006, 1029
(9th Cir. 2013)).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(c) generally provides that
a” temporary restraining order “will not issue
except upon the giving of security, it is not required where
plaintiffs are indigent or where considerations of public
policy make waiver of a bond appropriate.” Miller
v. Carlson, 768 F.Supp. 1331, 1340 (N.D. Cal. 1991).
Because plaintiffs are currently incarcerated, the court will
waive the bond requirement.
on the foregoing, plaintiffs' motion for a temporary
restraining order is granted. Effectively ...