Kuperman_NH_beard_case_2010

Kuperman_NH_beard_case_2010 - Kuperman v Wrenn et al...

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Kuperman v. Wrenn, et al. 08-CV-513-SM 08/27/10 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE Albert R. Kuperman , Plaintiff v. Civil No. 08-cv-513-SM Opinion No. 2010 DNH 153 William R. Wrenn, Commissioner, New Hampshire Department of Corrections; Richard M. Gerry, Warden, New Hampshire State Prison; Michael A. Samson; and Steven E. Britton , Defendants O R D E R Albert Kuperman is an inmate at the New Hampshire State Prison (“NHSP”). He brought suit to challenge a prison regulation that prohibits an inmate from growing facial hair longer than 1/4 inch. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. An orthodox Jew, Kuperman claims that the regulation violates his rights under: (1) the free exercise clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; (2) the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and (3) the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc et seq. 1 Before the court is defendants’ motion for summary 1 Kuperman originally asserted a retaliation claim against Michael Samson and Steven Britton. During discovery, he indicated his intention to withdraw that claim, (see Defs.’ Mot. Summ. J., Ex. D), and he reiterated in his objection to summary judgment that he was no longer pursuing the retaliation claim (see Pl.’s Obj. to Summ. J., at 1).
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judgment. Kuperman objects. For the reasons given, defendants’ summary judgment motion is granted. Summary Judgment Standard Summary judgment should be granted when the record reveals “no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” F ED . R. C IV . P. 56(c). “The object of summary judgment is to ‘pierce the boilerplate of the pleadings and assay the parties’ proof in order to determine whether trial is actually required.’ ” Dávila v. Corporación de P.R. para la Diffusión Pública , 498 F.3d 9, 12 (1st Cir. 2007) (quoting Acosta v. Ames Dep’t Stores, Inc. , 386 F.3d 5, 7 (1st Cir. 2004)). “Once the moving party avers an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party’s case, the non-moving party must offer ‘definite, competent evidence to rebut the motion,’ ” Meuser v. Fed. Express Corp. , 564 F.3d 507, 515 (1st Cir. 2009) (citing Mesnick v. Gen. Elec. Co. , 950 F.2d 816, 822 (1st Cir. 1991)), and “cannot rest on ‘conclusory allegations, improbable inferences, [or] unsupported speculation,’ ” Meuser , 564 F.3d at 515 (quoting Welch v. Ciampa , 542 F.3d 927, 935 (1st Cir. 2008)). When ruling on a party’s motion for summary judgment, a trial court “constru[es] the record in the light most favorable to the nonmovant and resolv[es] all reasonable inferences in [that] party’s favor.” 2
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Meuser , 564 F.3d at 515 (citing Rochester Ford Sales, Inc. v. Ford Motor Co. , 287 F.3d 32, 38 (1st Cir. 2002)). Background It is undisputed that Kuperman’s religion requires men to refrain from trimming their beards. New Hampshire prison inmates are required to shave, but an exception to that general requirement is described in a Policy and Procedure Directive (“PPD”) on the subject of Religious Programming and Diets. PPD 7.17(IV)(D) provides:
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  • Fall '10
  • ChristopherSmith
  • First Amendment to the United States Constitution, defendants, Summary judgment, Kuperman, Albert Kuperman

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