United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
D. Whitney, Chief United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on initial review of
Plaintiff's Complaint, (Doc. No. 1), and his incorporated
motion for change of venue, (Doc. No. 1 at 12). Plaintiff is
proceeding in forma pauperis. See (Doc. No.
se Plaintiff Shahid Muslim has filed a civil rights suit
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Religious Land Use
and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), 42
U.S.C. § 2000cc, et seq., against Mecklenburg
County Sheriff Irwin Carmichael and Mecklenburg County
Central Jail Chaplains Dennis and Maddox.
the Compliant liberally and accepting the allegations as
true, Plaintiff was deprived of a Kosher or Halal diet to
accommodate his sincerely held religious beliefs even though
there was no legitimate penological reason for doing so. This
substantially burdened Plaintiff's practice of his
religion, which he believes to require the consumption of
Halal meat. The Kosher diet satisfies his religious
requirements and could be modified to accommodate his medical
need for a high-protein diet. He was told, and documents
indicate, that he was denied the Kosher diet because he is
not Jewish. Providing Kosher meals to Plaintiff could be
accomplished for de minimis cost and would not cause
any administrative or security problems. The only alternative
offered to Plaintiff is a vegetarian diet that does not
satisfy his religion's requirement to eat meat or his
medical need for a high-protein diet which would result in
rapid weight loss. Plaintiff was treated
“harshly” by the chaplain who ignored and denied
his requests. (Doc. No. 1 at 7). Plaintiff appears to allege
that the unavailability of a Kosher diet caused him to go on
a hunger strike. Plaintiff alleges that documents showing the
reason for his denial - the fact that he is not Jewish - are
being altered to remove that invalid reason for his denial.
brought to “facility officials'” attention
that a similarly situated Jewish inmate in Plaintiff's
housing unit was allowed the Kosher diet but the officials
callously denied and ignored Plaintiff. (Doc. No. 1 at 3-4).
The requirement that inmates must profess to follow the
Jewish faith to receive Kosher meals has since been removed
from the system.
inmates are also treated differently from members of other
religious groups in that they are provided inadequate
services of an Imam. The facility maintains a relationship
with only one part-time Imam whereas there are four or five
full-time Christian chaplains. The part-time Imam is rarely
available to minister to Muslim inmates. During
Plaintiff's 30 days at the facility, he only encountered
the Imam on three occasions. The facility allows
“Jumah” or Friday congregational prayer service
for three or more inmates, but the unavailability of the Imam
to lead the service makes this alternative means a farce. In
Plaintiff's 31 months at the facility, an Imam led one
Jumah prayer even though the requisite number of inmates was
present on every occasion.
appears to seek compensatory and punitive damages, and
Motion to Change Venue
appears to incorporate in his Complaint a motion to change
venue. Plaintiff explains that he filed a federal civil
rights action against Judge Robert Conrad, the Western
District of North Carolina Clerk of Courts, and court
reporter, and that he has been assaulted by two United States
Marshals at the federal courthouse. (Doc. No. 1 at 12).
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), “[f]or the convenience of
parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district
court may transfer any civil action to any other district or
division where it might have been brought or to any district
or division to which all parties have consented.” The
threshold question when addressing a motion to transfer venue
is whether the proposed transferee court is one in which the
action originally may have been brought. Comm'l
Equip. Co., Inc. v. Barclay Furniture Co., 738 F.Supp.
974 (W.D. N.C. June 18, 1990). If so, the subsequent decision
to transfer venue is within the discretion of the court.
Global Touch Solutions, LLC v. Toshiba Corp., 109
F.Supp.3d 882 (E.D. Va. 2015). District courts within this
circuit consider four factors when deciding whether to
transfer venue: (1) the weight accorded to plaintiff's
choice of venue; (2) witness convenience and access; (3)
convenience of the parties; and (4) the interest of justice.
Trustees of the Plumbers & Pipefitters Nat. Pension
Fund v. Plumbing Servs., Inc., 791 F.3d 436, 444 (4th
Cir. 2015). As a general rule, a plaintiff's
“choice of venue is entitled to substantial weight in
determining whether transfer is appropriate.”
Id. (quoting Bd. of Trs. v. Sullivant Ave.
Props., LLC, 508 F.Supp.2d 473, 477 (E.D.Va. 2007)).
instant case, Plaintiff chose to file the action in this
Court. He fails to identify another Court where this action
could have been brought. See 28 U.S.C. §
1391(b). The events allegedly occurred at the Mecklenburg
County Jail, and all three Defendants are employed in
Mecklenburg County. Plaintiff does not allege that the
Defendants reside in a district other than the Western
District of North Carolina where Mecklenburg County is
located. Therefore, he has failed to meet the threshold
showing that there is a proposed alternate venue where the
suit could have been brought. Nor does Plaintiff explain why
the four relevant considerations favor a transfer. Assuming
that he means to argue that the interests of justice favor a
transfer, this claim is too vague and conclusory to support
relief. He fails to explain why his federal civil rights suit
against a different judge, the clerk of court, and a court
reporter prevents this Court from considering his case
fairly. His allegations that U.S. Marshals mistreated him is
too vague and conclusory to demonstrate that the interests of
justice warrant a transfer.
has not demonstrated the threshold showing that this suit
could have been filed in another court, or the existence of
factors supporting a transfer. Therefore the motion for
change of ...