United States District Court, D. Delaware
M. Silver, Hayley J. Reese (argued), and Alexandra M. Joyce
(argued), MCCARTER & ENGLISH, LLP, Wilmington, DE.
Attorneys for Plaintiff.
P. Connell (argued), Deputy Attorney General, DELAWARE
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Wilmington, DE. Attorney for
ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
before me is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.
(D.I. 104). The Parties have briefed the issues. (D.I. 105,
110, 117, 124, 125). I heard oral argument on April 25, 2019.
James Hardwick has been an inmate at James T. Vaughn
Correctional Center ("Vaughn") since 2008. (D.I. 65
at¶¶ 2, 14). He is an Orthodox Jew. (See
D.I. 111, Exhs. E-F). Following verification by a Rabbi,
Vaughn officially recognized Mr. Hardwick's religious
beliefs on March 21, 2012. (Id.). Mr. Hardwick's
claims stem from issues he has had with practicing his Jewish
faith at Vaughn since his recognition.
are five Vaughn employees remaining as Defendants in this
case: Christopher Senato, Gus C. Christo, James Simms, Ronald
G. Hosterman, and Todd Drace.
Senato works at Vaughn as a Regional Food Service Director
for the Delaware Department of Correction. (D.I. 106 at 157,
Senato Tr. 6:17-22). He is one of four Regional Food Service
Directors at the Department of Correction. (Id.,
Senato Tr. 7:8). The Regional Food Service Directors report
to the statewide Food Service Administrator. (Id.,
Senato Tr. 7:18-20). At Vaughn, Mr. Senato oversees four
supervisors, thirty staff, and more than 200 inmate workers.
(Id., Senato Tr. 8:2-3). His staff is responsible
for feeding Vaughn's approximately 2, 300 inmates.
(Id. at 162, Senato Tr. 37:6-8).
Christo is employed by the Department of Correction to serve
as a Chaplain at Vaughn. (Id. at 166, Christo Tr.
11:24-12:4). Much of Father Christo's job involves
coordinating with security to resolve prisoners'
religious requests. (Id., Christo Tr. 13:2-13). He
reports to the Treatment Administrator. (Id.).
Simms is or was a Correctional Treatment Administrator at
Vaughn. (Id. at 174, Simms Tr. 9:17-18).
Mr. Simms replaced Mr. Hosterman when he retired.
(Id. at 174-75, Simms Tr. 9:23-10:2). The job of the
Correctional Treatment Administrator is to supervise
treatment services, including correctional counselors, the
chaplain, the braille instructor, and administrative support
for those positions. (Id. at 175, Simms Tr.
10:14-19). The Treatment Administrator is part of senior
staff and reports to one of the two Deputy Wardens.
(Id. at 176, Simms Tr. 15:20-24).
Hosterman worked as a Correctional Treatment Administrator at
Vaughn from 2000 to 2016, when he retired. (Id. at
182, Hosterman Tr. 7:8-19). His duties as Treatment
Administrator were largely identical to Mr. Simms'.
(Id., Hosterman Tr. 9:5-12).
Drace is a former Area Lieutenant at Vaughn. (Id. at
201, Hardwick Tr. 63:15-23). Mr. Hardwick alleges that Lt.
Drace was running Vaughn's property room, where property
is stored while an inmate is in the medical unit, when Mr.
Hardwick was returned to the general population following
medical treatment in 2015. (Id.).
contracts with an outside vendor to provide kosher meals.
(D.I. 111, Exh. I at 50:23-51:5). The meals are heated by
inmate workers in a central kitchen and distributed to the
compound. (Id. at 8:1-8, 11:15-12:4, 45:12-22). They
are served, TV dinner-style, in individual trays. (D.I. 111,
Exh. A at 25:12-19). The process for signing up to receive a
kosher diet at Vaughn involves confirmation of an
inmate's religion by the chaplain, Defendant Christo, and
approval by the Regional Food Service Director, Defendant
Senato. (D.I. 111, Exh. I at 10:10-11:4; 43:13-20).
Vaughn recognized Mr. Hardwick as Jewish, he signed up for
the kosher meal program and agreed to the conditions for
participation in that program. (D.I. 111, Exh. I at
43:12-44:10). He was removed from the kosher meal program
sometime prior to February 2, 2016 after he violated the
program conditions. (D.I. 106 at 132). Although there is a
process to request reinstitution of a kosher diet, he does
not wish to be fed the currently available meals. (D.I. 111,
Exh. A at 79:12-19).
Hardwick has a number of complaints about his experience with
Vaughn's kosher meal program. Significantly, he believes
some of the kosher meals contain non-kosher cuts of meat.
(Id. at 24:11-21). He raised this issue with Mr.
Senato several times but continued to receive the offending
pot roast meal. (Id. at 24:18-20, 70:23-72:4). Mr.
Hardwick suggested that he should be allowed to supplement
his meals with kosher peanut butter, but Mr. Senato did not
approve his request. (Id. at 71:19-22). Mr. Hardwick
also complains that the kosher diet is calorically
insufficient. He estimates that he received only 1, 500 to 1,
800 calories a day while on the diet. (Id. at
51:16-22). He filed several grievances describing his
concerns with the meals. (See D.I. 106 at 1-155).
Mr. Hardwick also notes that Vaughn did not provide him with
the Aleph Institute's matzo and grape juice meals on
several occasions. (See D.I. 111, Exhs. L, M, T).
allows certain religious groups to congregate for worship.
Specifically, three groups of Muslims worship on Friday, two
groups of Catholics worship on Saturday, and three groups of
Protestants worship on Sunday. (D.I. 106 at 170, Christo Tr.
26:3-14). The groups are kept to fewer than 100 inmates for
security reasons. (Id.). Every religious service and
inmate gathering is facilitated by a religious
leader or an outside volunteer. (D.I. 106 at 189,
Hosterman Tr. 144:18-145:19). A Rabbi will not regularly
visit a prison with fewer than ten verified Jewish
inmates-inmates whose mothers were Jewish or who have gone
through certain instruction. (Id. at 170-71, Christo
Tr. 28:2-29:7). Although there are approximately nine inmates
at Vaughn who identify as Jewish, only two were verified as
of September 2018. (Id. at 162, Senate Tr. 37:17-21;
Id. at 170, Christo Tr. 28:19-20; Id. at
196, Hardwick Tr. 33:22-34:4). Thus, the Aleph Institute
sends a Rabbi only once a year. (Id. at 172, Christo
Tr. 37:15-17). At one point, Vaughn allowed unsupervised
gatherings of Jewish inmates on Friday nights to say a
Shabbat prayer, but such gatherings are no longer permitted.
(Id., Hosterman Tr. 143:8-144:17).
Sukkot Tent and Other Religious Property
past, Vaughn allowed inmates to use a Sukkot tent.
(Id. at 188, Hosterman Tr. 139:7-9). Following an
expansion of the facility, however, security disposed of the
tent. (Id., Hosterman Tr. 142:3-4; see also
D.I. 11, Exh. Z). At some later point, Mr. Hardwick requested
access to a Sukkot tent. (D.I. 111, Exhs. X-Z). He has not
been given access to a tent. Mr. Hardwick has further
requested, and not received, a number of other religious
items, including a ram's horn, tzitzit, and tefillin.
(D.I. 111, Exh. A at 31:4-19, 36:15-38:9).
Hardwick has also had issues with the religious property that
he is permitted to possess. In May or June 2016, Mr. Hardwick
underwent a medical procedure. (See D.I. 110 at 6;
D.I. 111, Exh. A at 64:2-7; D.I. 111, Exh. U). When an inmate
goes to the medical department, his property is stored in the
property room. (D.I. 111, Exh. A at 63:13-23). Defendant Todd
Drace was covering the property room during Mr. Hard
wick's visit to the medical department. (Id.).
Lt. Drace did not return Mr. Hardwick's property for
seven days after he was returned to the general population.
(Id. at 64:7-8). When Mr. Hardwick's property
was returned, it was returned without his religious books
(the Code of Jewish Law, a prayer book, and a religious
calendar), as they were deemed to be in excess of his
property allowance (Id. at 64:13-65:2; D.I. 111,
Exh. U), which allowed him to possess only three books at one
time. (D.I. 111, Exh. A at 65:8-66:1). Lt. Drace did not
permit him to choose which books he wished to retain.
(Id.). A substantial amount of other, non-religious,
property was also confiscated, including five homemade books,
ten envelopes of newspaper clippings, 41 legal sized
envelopes of legal paperwork, an auto tech book, and 33
magazines. (D.I. 111, Exh. V). He retained his prayer shawl
and kippah. (D.I. 111, Exh. U).