United States District Court, D. New Jersey
B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Richard Scaffidi is a state prisoner who is proceeding
pro se with a civil rights complaint. Currently
pending before this Court is defendants' motion to
dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). For the
following reasons, the motion to dismiss will be granted in
Court recites the facts in the light most favorable to
plaintiff. Mr. Scaffidi is a convicted and sentenced state
prisoner presently confined in Southern State Correctional
Facility (“SSCF”), New Jersey. He practices
Odinism, also known as Asatru, a religion worshipping the
Norse pantheon. Prior to November 2016, Odinist inmates in
SSCF were permitted to wear metal Thor's Hammer
medallions as the symbol of their faith.
Scaffidi sought to order a medallion from an approved vendor
following the New Jersey Department of Corrections'
(“NJDOC”) specifications: “must be from
source of sale, Maximum value of $25.00, no larger than
2” x 2”, gold or silver in color, and a maximum
chain length of 24 inches and the chains value can not exceed
$50.00.” Another Odinism practitioner informed
plaintiff that there was a notice from SSCF's mailroom
stating metal Thor's Hammer medallions were no longer
allowed in the facility. Any medallion had to be made out of
wood. Plaintiff filed grievances asking why metal hammer
medallions were no longer permitted but other inmates were
permitted to possess metal medallions depicting their
religious symbols. A SSCF official responded “A memo
will be put out.” On December 16, 2016, the memo from
SSCF Administrator C. Ray Hughes dated December 12, 2016 was
posted in the inmates' living areas, stating Thor's
Hammer medallions had to be made out of wood.
also filed grievances regarding the lack of Odinist religious
services available to inmates. Chaplain Crossland told Mr.
Scaffidi that he had to find a volunteer to perform the
services himself. A Yule service was scheduled for December
21, 2016 after plaintiff provided a list of inmates that
would be attending.
alleges Christian and Muslim prisoners are permitted to wear
metal medallions with their religious symbols and are
provided other benefits within SSCF that Odinist inmates are
not, i.e., regular religious services and religious
texts. He filed suit alleging violations of the First and
Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, Article 1 of the
New Jersey Constitution, the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000,
(“RLUIPA”), and New Jersey's
“Fundamental Fairness Act”. The Honorable
Renée Marie Bumb, U.S.D.J., granted Plaintiff's
in forma pauperis application and permitted the
complaint to proceed after screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
have filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to
state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). Mr. Scaffidi did not file a response in opposition
to the motion.
considering a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to
state a claim, Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court must accept
all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and
view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party. A motion to dismiss may be granted only if the
plaintiff has failed to set forth fair notice of what the
claim is and the grounds upon which it rests that make such a
claim plausible on its face. Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). Although Rule 8 does not
require “detailed factual allegations, ” it
requires “more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must
“tak[e] note of the elements [the] plaintiff must plead
to state a claim. Second, it should identify allegations
that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not
entitled to the assumption of truth. Finally, [w]hen there
are well-pleaded factual allegations, [the] court should
assume their veracity and then determine whether they
plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.”
Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d
Cir. 2016) (alterations in original) (internal citations and
quotation marks omitted).