Masek v. Chastiain et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant Antonina Chastain's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED. [Doc. 26 ]. An appropriate judgment will accompany this Memorandum and Order. Signed by District Judge Charles A. Shaw on 8/30/18. (JWD) (Main Document 37 replaced on 8/30/2018 to correct PDF error. NEF regenerated to parties) (JWD).
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
MICHAEL D. MASEK,
ANTONINA CHASTAIN, et al.,
No. 4:17-CV-660 CAS
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on defendant Antonina Chastain’s (“Chastain”) motion
for summary judgment. Defendant Chastain moves for summary judgment based on the merits
and qualified immunity. Plaintiff Michael Masek (“Masek”), who is proceeding pro se, opposes
the motion, which is fully briefed and ready for decision. For the following reasons, the Court
will grant defendant Chastain’s motion for summary judgment.
Plaintiff Michael Masek is a civil detainee at the Southeast Missouri Mental Health
Center (“SMMHC”) in Farmington, Missouri. Until approximately July 20, 2016, Masek was
confined in the St. Louis Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center (“SLPRC”). In his Complaint, which
was signed but not verified, Masek brought a number of claims against five defendants pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking monetary relief for alleged violations of his rights under the First
and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. In a Memorandum and Order dated
March 7, 2017, the Court conducted a review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) and found that Masek
had stated claims under the First and Fourteenth Amendments against defendant Antonina
Chastain in her individual capacity for the denial of telephone calls and religious materials.1
Subsequent to the Court’s March 7, 2017 Memorandum and Order, Masek filed multiple
supplements and letters with the Court in an attempt to add additional claims. See Docs. 13, 14,
17 and 18. In a Memorandum and Order dated April 13, 2017, the Court wrote that it does not
permit amendment of pleadings by interlineation or in a piecemeal fashion, and it would
disregard Masek’s attempts to supplement his complaint. The Court ordered that if plaintiff
wished to add additional claims, he must file an amended complaint within 30 days of the
Memorandum and Order. Doc. 19 at 2. The Court explicitly warned that in the event Masek
failed to file an amended complaint, “this case will proceed on the original complaint against
defendant Antonina Chastain for denial of telephone calls and of religious materials under the
First and Fourteenth Amendments.” Id. at 3. Masek did not file an amended complaint and,
therefore, no other claims are at issue in this case.
After conducting discovery, Chastain now moves for summary judgment on a number of
As to plaintiff’s claims regarding telephone restrictions, Chastain argues the
undisputed facts establish that she was not personally involved with issuing the order restricting
Masek’s telephone calls. In the alternative, she also argues that there were therapeutic reasons
justifying the restrictions; Masek was never restricted from communicating with his patient
advocate or his attorney; and he had alternative means of communicating with other persons. As
for plaintiff’s claims regarding the denial of religious materials, Chastain argues that Masek was
On review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court dismissed all of Masek’s claims
except for his claims against Antonina Chastain for the denial of telephone calls and religious
material. The Court dismissed without prejudice the following defendants: Blake Schneider, Lisa
Ellis, Felix T. Vincenz, and Praveen Nimmagadda. Doc. 8.
deprived of a copy of the Bible for only one week after he asked for one, and that such
deprivation was de minimis and did not amount to a substantial burden on Masek’s ability to
practice his religion. Finally, Chastain argues she is entitled to qualified immunity.
II. Legal Standard
The standards applicable to summary judgment motions are well settled. Pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), a court may grant a motion for summary judgment if all
of the information before the court shows “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
The initial burden is placed on the moving party. City of Mt. Pleasant, Ia. v. Associated
Elec. Co-op., Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273 (8th Cir. 1988) (the moving party has the burden of clearly
establishing the non-existence of any genuine issue of fact that is material to a judgment in its
favor). Once this burden is discharged, if the record shows that no genuine dispute exists, the
burden then shifts to the non-moving party who must set forth affirmative evidence and specific
facts showing there is a genuine dispute on a material factual issue. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986).
Once the burden shifts, the non-moving party may not rest on the allegations in his
pleadings, but by affidavit and other evidence must set forth specific facts showing that a
genuine issue of material fact exists. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Herring v. Canada Life Assur. Co.,
207 F.3d 1026, 1029 (8th Cir. 2000); Allen v. Entergy Corp., 181 F.3d 902, 904 (8th Cir. 1999).
The non-moving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as
to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586
(1986). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine” only “if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Herring, 207 F.3d at 1029
(quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). A party resisting summary judgment has the burden to
designate the specific facts that create a triable question of fact, see Crossley v. Georgia-Pacific
Corp., 355 F.3d 1112, 1114 (8th Cir. 2004), and “must substantiate allegations with sufficient
probative evidence that would permit a finding in the plaintiff's favor.” Davidson & Assocs. v.
Jung, 422 F.3d 630, 638 (8th Cir. 2005).
Local Rule 4.01(E) provides with respect to summary judgment motions:
A memorandum in support of a motion for summary judgment shall have attached
a statement of uncontroverted material facts, set forth in a separately numbered
paragraph for each fact, indicating whether each fact is established by the record,
and, if so, the appropriate citations. Every memorandum in opposition shall
include a statement of material facts as to which the party contends a genuine
issue exists. Those matters in dispute shall be set forth with specific references to
portions of the record, where available, upon which the opposing party relies.
The opposing party also shall note for all disputed facts the paragraph number
from movant’s listing of facts. All matters set forth in the statement of the
movant shall be deemed admitted for purposes of summary judgment unless
specifically controverted by the opposing party
E.D. Mo. L.R. 4.01(E).
In support of her motion for summary judgment, Chastain submitted a Statement of
Uncontroverted Material Facts and a Supplemental Statement of Uncontroverted Materials Facts
with citations to affidavits from Blake Schneider and Antonina Chastain, Masek’s deposition
transcript, and exhibits. Docs. 28 and 35. Contrary to the Local Rules, Masek did not file a
statement of material facts as to which he contends a genuine dispute exists. In his memoranda,
Masek does raise objections to a number of defendant’s undisputed facts, but the vast majority of
his objections fail to provide specific references to any portion of the record.2 Any objections
Masek has raised that do not cite to the record are ineffective for purposes of establishing a
genuine factual dispute.3 Accordingly, for purposes of this motion, Masek is deemed to have
admitted all facts contained in Chastain’s Statement of Uncontroverted Material Facts and
Supplemental Statement of Uncontroverted Facts that he has not disputed by means of citing to
the record. See Roe v. St. Louis Univ., 746 F.3d 874, 881 (8th Cir. 2014) (if the opposing party
does not raise objections to a movant’s statement of facts as required by Local Rule 4.01(E), “a
district court will not abuse its discretion by admitting the movant’s facts.”); Ridpath v.
Pederson, 407 F.3d 934, 936 (8th Cir. 2005) (where plaintiff did not controvert defendant’s
statement of material fact, it was deemed admitted under E.D. Mo. Local Rule 4.01(E)). The
Court will address below the few instances where Masek makes objections to defendant’s
version of the facts and references the record.
With this in mind, the Court accepts the following facts as true for purposes of resolving
Chastain’s motion for summary judgment:
Plaintiff was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the murder of his father by a
Jefferson County, Missouri court in 1990. Since that time, Masek has been in the custody of the
Plaintiff filed an Opposition to Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment and a “Reply
Memorandum to Defendants [sic] New Discloser [sic] of Supplemental Statement of Uncontroverted
Material Facts.” Docs. 32 and 36.
Plaintiff does make some factual assertions in his memoranda that appear to be based on
personal knowledge, however, neither of Masek’s memoranda were verified or signed under penalty
of perjury and, thus, cannot be considered as an affidavit in opposition to the motion for summary
judgment. Anda v. Wickes Furniture Co., 517 F.3d 526, 531 (8th Cir. 2008) (“To establish a genuine
factual issue, a party ‘may not merely point to unsupported self-serving allegations.”) (internal
quotation and citation omitted). Assertions in legal memoranda are not evidence. Id.
Missouri Department of Mental Health. Masek is currently civilly detained in the SMMHC in
Farmington, Missouri. He was formerly detained at SLPRC.
While Masek was detained at SLPRC, he had a treatment team that included Antonina
Chastain, a licensed social worker. Masek’s treatment team met weekly to discuss his behavior
and treatment. They also had daily morning meetings to discuss any problems that may have
occurred overnight. As a member of Masek’s treatment team, Chastain drafted monthly progress
notes relating to his behavior and treatment. SLPRC staff drafted daily progress notes regarding
Masek’s status and wellbeing, which Chastain reviewed regularly. Prior to June 16, 2016, Masek
was assigned to Cottage B at SLPRC.
On June 16, 2016, SLPRC staff notified Blake Schneider, a member of plaintiff’s team
and program director of the SLPRC New Outlook Program, that a female patient, “Lisa B.,” had
accused Masek of having a camera that contained explicit images of her. Lisa B. also stated that
Masek had made a sex toy to use and gave her small plastic bags filled with his semen to
impregnate herself.4 In response to these accusations, Schneider and two other staff members
escorted Masek to Ward E and searched him. The staff found two MP3 players. One of the MP3
Masek disputes this fact by stating that, “#16 Is (not) a Uncontroverted Material Fact. It
contains hearsay information that was never proven and is irrelevant to this case.” Doc. 32 at 12.
Masek does not cite to any portion of the record to support his assertion. The statement is not
hearsay pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 801, because it is not being offered for the truth of the
matter asserted. The statement is not being offered to prove that Masek “made a sex toy to use and
had given [Lisa] small plastic bags filled with his semen with which to impregnate herself,” but
rather it is offered to show the effect that the statement had on decisions by staff members of
SLPRC. Masek’s objection is insufficient to establish a genuine issue of fact. “To establish a
genuine factual issue, a party may not merely point to unsupported self-serving allegations. Instead,
the party must substantiate its allegations with sufficient probative evidence that would permit a
finding in its favor.” Residential Funding Co., LLC v. Terrace Mortg. Co., 725 F.3d 910, 915 (8th
Cir. 2013) (internal quotation and citation omitted).
players had a camera that contained eleven blurry pictures of what appeared to be skin and a
video of what appeared to be a female touching her own breast and nipple.
At the time, Dr. Davinder Hayreh was the staff psychiatrist for patients on Ward E.
Schneider informed Dr. Hayreh of the accusations against Masek. After discussing the possible
detrimental effect that future contact with Masek could have on Lisa B.’s treatment, Dr. Hayreh
issued an order restricting Masek’s telephone use and continued him on sleepover status on
Ward E.5 Dr. Hayreh restricted Masek’s calls to his Missouri Protection and Advocacy
representative and his attorney. It is SLPRC’s policy that only psychiatrists can issue an order
restricting a patient’s communications. At all times while he was on telephone restriction, Masek
was permitted to call his Missouri Protection and Advocacy representative.6 The day after Masek
was transferred to Ward E he called his representative. Masek spoke with his representative a
couple of times while on Ward E. Masek did not attempt to call his attorney.
Shortly after plaintiff was moved to Ward E, Schneider and a nurse searched Masek’s
room in Cottage B and found a large amount of contraband, including two mass storage devices
and numerous other electronic devices. There was also a large amount of written materials,
Sleepover status refers to a client from one treatment program being put on a ward of
another treatment program.
Plaintiff attempted to dispute this fact and wrote, “Plaintiff was not allowed to make or
receive any calls for the first 3 days. The phone restriction was not in compliance with policy or
progress note." Doc. 32 at 13. Although Masek references SLPRC's Policy for limiting patient
communications and a progress note, these exhibits do not controvert defendant Chastain’s
Statements of Uncontroverted Material Fact. Both the policy and the progress notes support
defendant Chastain’s Statements of Uncontroverted Material Fact that plaintiff Masek’s phone calls
were restricted pursuant to SLPRC policy. Additionally, plaintiff Masek himself confirmed during
his deposition that he was permitted to call, and did in fact call, his Missouri Protection Advocacy
representative. Doc. 28-1 at 65:3-66:6.
including books and printouts, including a copy of the Bible in which there were handwritten,
delusional notes. Having no place to store the large amount of contraband, Masek’s room was
locked so that no one could enter and property could be inventoried and examined. All the
property remained locked in Masek’s former room, since there was insufficient space to store it
elsewhere at SLPRC. Masek was allowed to have a few changes of clothing but no other
property from his room in Cottage B.
Chastain was on vacation during the week that included June 16, 2016. She returned
from vacation on June 20, 2016. Upon her return, Schneider informed Chastain that Masek had
been moved to Ward E and explained the events that precipitated the move, including the
contraband locked in Cottage B. Chastain spoke with Masek, and he initially denied exchanging
any pictures with Lisa B, but he later admitted it was true.
Chastain spoke with Masek again on June 23, 2016. Masek testified in his deposition
that he recalls asking Chastain for his personal Bibles and tea from his prior room during their
June 23, 2016 conversation.7 Plaintiff only requested his personal Bibles, no other copies. Had
Masek requested it, he could have received a copy of the Bible from another source.
Approximately one week after their conversation, another patient obtained a Bible for Masek
from the librarian. Plaintiff did not like the version of the Bible that was initially given to him.
In her affidavit attached to the Memorandum in Support of the Motion for Summary
Judgment, Chastain stated that Masek did not request a Bible from his prior room during this
meeting. During his deposition, Masek repeatedly stated that he asked Chastain for his Bibles. Doc.
28-1 at 34:5-32; 47:20-48:8. In viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party, the Court accepts as true Masek’s allegation that he requested his personal Bibles from
Chastain during the June 23, 2016 conversation. See Walz v. Ameriprise Fin., Inc., 779 F.3d 842,
844 (8th Cir. 2015) (“The nonmoving party receives the benefit of all reasonable inferences
supported by the evidence”).
The other patient went back to the librarian and asked for a different version of the Bible, which
was given to plaintiff. Plaintiff describes himself as Christian with no denomination.
Despite his telephone restrictions, Masek admitted he did have phone contact with Lisa
B. while he was on phone restriction on Ward E. Due to the disruptive impact that Masek’s
relationship had on Lisa B.’s treatment, Masek’s treatment team thought it best to move Masek
to SMMHC. Plaintiff was transferred to SMMHC on July 20, 2016.
A. Telephone Restrictions
Defendant Chastain argues that Masek’s claims based on the denial of telephone calls in
violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments fail because Chastain was not personally
involved in the telephone restriction order and Masek, therefore, cannot establish that Chastain
deprived him of a Constitutional right as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Masek has alleged that
Chastain denied him access to make and receive telephone calls in violation of his First and
Fourteenth Amendment rights while confined at SLPRC from June 16, 2016, until his transfer to
SMMHC on July 20, 2016. The Court finds that the undisputed evidence shows that Chastain
was not personally responsible for the telephone restrictions placed on Masek.
“Section 1983 provides a federal cause of action against anyone who, acting pursuant to
state authority, violates any ‘rights, privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution and
laws’ of the United States.” Pediatric Specialty Care, Inc. v. Ark. Dep’t of Human Servs., 293
F.3d 472, 477 (8th Cir. 2002) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). The plaintiff in a § 1983 action must
show that a defendant deprived him of a constitutional right while acting under color of state
law. “Liability under section 1983 requires a causal link to, and direct responsibility for, the
deprivation of rights.” Madewell v. Roberts, 909 F.2d 1203, 1208 (8th Cir. 1990) (citations
omitted). “A defendant will not be held liable under 43 U.S.C. § 1983 unless he was personally
involved in causing the deprivation of a constitutional right.” Triplett v. Azordegan, 570 F.2d
819, 823 (8th Cir. 1978).
Here, there is no evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude that Chastain
was directly responsible for the deprivation of Masek’s constitutional rights with regard to
telephone calls. It is undisputed that Dr. Hayreh, not Chastain, restricted Masek’s telephone
calls. This is confirmed by the sworn affidavits of Chastain and Schneider, and further
corroborated by the progress note dated June 16, 2016. Masek has not referenced any part of the
record that raises a question of fact as to whether Chastain was involved, in any way, in the
restriction of his calls.8 Not only was Chastain on vacation while Dr. Hayreh issued the order
restricting Masek’s telephone calls, but it is SLPRC policy that only psychiatrists can issue an
order limiting or restricting a patient’s communications. As part of Masek’s treatment team,
Chastain was a licensed clinical social worker, not a psychiatrist. Masek does not dispute that it
is SLPRC’s policy that only psychiatrists can issue limitations or restrictions on patient
communications, and he has failed to provide any evidence that SLPRC social workers are
With respect to Defendant Chastain’s argument that she was not personally involved with
the decisions restricting Masek’s telephone calls, Masek only restates his allegation in his unverified
complaint that “Defendant personally told plaintiff NO when he asked to call his sister.” Doc. 32
at 3. The party opposing a summary judgment motion may not rest upon the allegations in their
pleadings. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Herring, 207 F. 3d at 1029. “In order to survive a motion for
summary judgment, the nonmoving party has the burden of setting forth specific facts to show a
genuine issue for trial, and ‘[m]ere allegations, unsupported by specific facts or evidence beyond
the nonmoving party’s own conclusions will not suffice.’” Morris v. City of Chillicothe, 512 F.3d
1013, 1018 (8th Cir. 2008) (internal punctuation and citation omitted). Masek has not submitted any
evidence supporting this bare allegation, and the Court finds that this unsupported statement is
insufficient to prevent summary judgment.
permitted to issue an order restricting a patient’s communications. Because there is no evidence
in the record that Chastain was directly responsible for the deprivation of Masek’s constitutional
rights with regard to telephone calls, Masek has no basis for liability against Chastain. Mark v.
Nix, 983 F.2d 138, 140 (8th Cir. 1993) (citing Ouzts v. Cummins, 825 F.2d 1276, 1277 (8th Cir.
1987) (per curiam); Ronnei v. Butler, 597 F.2d 564, 566 (8th Cir. 1979) (per curiam)).
The Court concludes that there is no material question of fact regarding defendant
Chastain’s personal involvement in the restriction of plaintiff Masek’s telephone calls. Because
defendant Chastain cannot be held liable under §1983 if she was not personally involved with
the alleged deprivation of plaintiff Masek’s constitutional rights, the Court will grant defendant
Chastain’s summary judgment motion on this claim.9
Free Exercise of Religion
The Court now addresses defendant Chastain’s motion for summary judgment on
Masek’s claim that he was denied religious materials in violation of the Free Exercise Clause of
the First Amendment. Chastain argues that there was no interference with plaintiff’s ability to
exercise his religion because had plaintiff requested a Bible, instead of specifically requesting
his personal Bibles, he would have received one. Defendant Chastain also argues that any
interference with Masek’s religious practice was de minimis, in that Masek was only without a
Bible for one week after he requested his personal Bibles.
The Court declines to reach the issue of whether or not the telephone restrictions placed on
Masek violated his rights under the First and/or Fourteenth Amendments. Addressing the merits of
Masek’s claim would result in an advisory opinion because “nothing we might say would affect the
rights of the parties in this case.” South Dakota v. Hazen, 914 F.2d 147, 150 (8th Cir. 1990). The
Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has warned against issuing opinions in situations such as
To establish a free exercise claim under the First Amendment, a plaintiff must show that
he held a sincere religious belief, and that the official action substantially burdened his exercise
of that belief. Hernandez v. Comm’r of Internal Revenue, 490 U.S. 680, 699 (1989). See also
Patel v. U.S. Bureau of Prisons, 515 F.3d 807, 813 (8th Cir. 2008) (citing Weir v. Nix, 114 F.3d
817, 820 (1997) (as a threshold matter, courts must inquire whether the limitation placed a
substantial burden on the plaintiff’s ability to exercise his religion).10 Substantially burdening
one’s free exercise of religion means that the limitation
must significantly inhibit or constrain conduct or expression that
manifests some central tenet of a person’s individual religious
beliefs; must meaningfully curtail a person’s ability to express
adherence to his or her faith; or must deny a person reasonable
opportunities in those activities that are fundamental to a person’s
Murphy v. Mo. Dep’t of Corr., 372 F.3d 979, 988 (8th Cir. 2004).
If the challenged
governmental action substantially burdened a sincerely held religious belief, the Court is to
apply the factors outlined in Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89 (1987), “to determine if the
For purposes of considering the First Amendment rights of civilly committed patients, the
Court finds the status of such persons is substantially similar to that of prisoners, and therefore the
Court may look to case law interpreting prisoners’ rights in considering the constitutional issues
raised by Masek in his complaint. See Beaulieu v. Ludeman, 690 F.3d 1017, 1039 (8th Cir. 2012)
(applying standard from a case in a prison context to First Amendment claims brought by civilly
committed sex offenders). See also Revels v. Vincenz, 382 F.3d 870, 874 (8th Cir. 2004)
(“Although an involuntarily committed patient of a state hospital is not a prisoner per se, his
confinement is subject to the same safety and security concerns as that of a prisoner.”); Serna v.
Goodno, 567 F.3d 944, 953 (8th Cir. 2009) (finding that “governmental interests in running a state
mental hospital are similar in material aspects to that of running a prison” because “[a]dministrators
have a vital interest in ensuring the safety of their staff, other patients, and of course in ensuring the
patients’ own safety” ); but see Senty–Haugen v. Goodno, 462 F.3d 876, 886 (8th Cir. 2006) (noting
the liberty interests of civilly committed individuals in state custody as dangerous persons “are
considerably less than those held by members of free society,” but they are “entitled to more
considerate treatment and conditions of confinement” than prison inmates).
regulation restricting the religious practice is reasonably related to legitimate penological
objectives.”11 Gladson v. Iowa Dept. of Corr., 551 F.3d 825, 831 (8th Cir. 2009).
Here, it is undisputed that Masek’s personal Bibles were locked in his room after
contraband was discovered, but there is no evidence that Chastain precluded Masek from having
a Bible. Defendant Chastain put forth evidence, which plaintiff does not dispute, that had
plaintiff requested a copy of the Bible, he would have received a copy. Plaintiff, however, did
not request that Chastain provide him with a copy of the Bible, but rather he testified that he
asked for personal Bibles, which were locked with other contraband in his room. There is no
evidence from which a jury could conclude that Chastain precluded plaintiff from obtaining a
Bible and, therefore, the Court concludes that defendant Chastain did not place a substantial
burden on plaintiff’s ability to practice his religion. See Moon v. Jordan, No. 1:15-CV-167
RLW, 2017 WL 5466681, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Nov. 13, 2017) (granting summary judgment in favor
of defendant where the jail did not preclude plaintiff from possessing a Qur’an. The jail did not
maintain a copy of the Qur’an but the plaintiff “could have had someone bring him a copy.”);
Amos v. Karol, No. 1:14–CV–63 SNLJ, 2016 WL 492707, at *3 (E.D. Mo. Feb. 9, 2016)
(granting summary judgment in favor of defendant where plaintiff failed to show that his
The Turner factors are:
(1) whether there is a “valid rational connection” between the prison regulation and
the government interest in justifying it; (2) whether there is an alternative means
available to the prison inmates to exercise the right; (3) whether an accommodation
would have a “significant” “ripple effect” “on the guards, other inmates, and prison
resources”; and (4) whether there is an alternative that fully accommodates the
prisoner “at de minimis cost to valid penological interests.”
Gladson, 551 F.3d at 831 (quoting Turner, 482 U.S. at 89-91).
requests for a prayer rug, Qur'an, and access to an Imam were denied; plaintiff was instructed as
to how to receive these items and access to a Imam, but they were not pursued).
But even if the Court were to find that Chastain prevented plaintiff from having a copy of
the Bible, it is undisputed that approximately one week after the conversation in which he asked
Chastain for his personal Bibles, another patient brought plaintiff a copy of the Bible from the
librarian.12 Plaintiff has failed to show how not having a Bible for one week after he requested
one substantially burdened his ability to exercise his religion. Plaintiff maintains that he is a nondenominational Christian. Plaintiff has offered no evidence to show that not having a Bible for a
week meaningfully curtailed his ability to practice his non-denominational Christian faith.13 The
Eighth Circuit has found that the temporary deprivation of religious material does not rise to the
level of a constitutional violation. McCroy v. Douglas Cty. Corr. Ctr., 394 F. App’x 325, 326
(8th Cir. 2010) (concluding that the initial confiscation of a prisoner’s towel he used as a prayer
rug and his copy of the Koran and the two-week delay in returning them to him did not evidence
a substantial burden on the ability to practice one’s religion); see also Johnson v. Fields, No.
2:14-CV-38-FDW, 2017 WL 5505991, at *13 (W.D.N.C. Nov. 16, 2017) (finding the removal of
Plaintiff testified that he did not like the version of the Bible that was initially given to him.
The other patient went back to the librarian and asked for a different version, which was given to
plaintiff. There is no evidence in the record that the second Bible was somehow deficient or
Plaintiff states in his memorandum in opposition that the Bibles he received from the library
were not equivalent to his personal Bibles, namely because they were not Septuagint Bibles. First,
plaintiff merely makes this assertion, and there is no evidence of these facts in the record. Morris,
512 F.3d at 1018. Second, plaintiff does not explain how not having a Septuagint Bible significantly
constrains his ability to exercise his non-denominational Christian faith. And finally, plaintiff does
not state whether he asked for a copy of the Septuagint Bible, and whether that request was or would
have been denied.
the Bible for 24 days did not substantially burden the plaintiff’s exercise of his religion). The
Court finds that the temporary deprivation of a Bible for a week is de minimis and does not
amount to a constitutional violation.
The Court concludes that defendant Chastain is entitled to summary judgment with
regard to plaintiff’s claim that he was denied religious materials in violation of the Free Exercise
Clause of the First Amendment. There is no evidence that Chastain precluded plaintiff from
having a copy of the Bible, and plaintiff was only without a copy of the Bible one week after he
asked for his personal Bibles, which was de minimus. Masek has failed to raise a genuine
question of material fact as to whether defendant Chastain placed a substantial burden on his
ability to practice his religion.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court concludes that plaintiff Masek has failed to establish
the existence of any question of material fact with respect to his claims for denial of telephone
calls and of religious materials under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and that defendant
Chastain’s motion for summary judgment should be granted on the merits. As a result, the Court
does not reach Chastain’s argument that she is entitled to summary judgment based on qualified
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant Antonina Chastain’s Motion for Summary
Judgment is GRANTED. [Doc. 26].
An appropriate judgment will accompany this Memorandum and Order.
CHARLES A. SHAW
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
day of August, 2018.
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