Carter v. Fleming, No. 17-6461 (4th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment against plaintiff in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action primarily alleging that plaintiff's First Amendment Free Exercise Clause rights, as well as his rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. 2000cc et seq., were violated because of his former prison's failure to accommodate his religious dietary needs. The court held that plaintiff's prospects for meaningful redress were sufficient to give him standing to seek prospective relief regarding the content of the Common Fare menu; defendants have not demonstrated that plaintiff had lost all legally cognizable interest in the outcome of his request for prospective relief from the suspension; and, on the merits, plaintiff has shown a genuine factual dispute as to whether his rights were substantially burdened by the prison's serving him foods that Nation of Islam dietary rules prohibited him from eating. The court explained that defendants failed to offer any institutional interest that they claimed justified the burdening of a prisoner's rights. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings.