And they don't let him in, so he sues, and he loses pretty spectacularly.
On Jan. 4, 2021, Ryan Manning of Needham tried walking into the Whole Foods at Legacy Place without a mask on. Managers offered him a mask, but he refused because it's "part of a satanic ritual" and so against his religion, also, it would lower his immune system and deprive him of oxygen. They offered to do his shopping for him and bring him his food. He refused. They asked him to leave. He refused, in fact, said he wanted to make "a citizen's arrest." They called police. Police made him leave.
Then, of course, Manning made a federal case out of it all, filing a pro se lawsuit in US District Court in Boston, alleging his freedom of religion and speech were abused, that he was discriminated against, that the managers were illegally practicing medicine, that the store falsely imprisoned him.
Judge Allison Burroughs agreed with Whole Foods to dismiss the entire suit. And in her ruling, handed down last month, she provided ample evidence that Manning might have benefited from consultation with a lawyer, who could have shown him that all of his eight allegations were legal hogwash, especially in the middle of a pandemic.
Despite the myriad of claims brought by Plaintiff, there is no constitutional, statutory, or common law right to jeopardize the health of others by shopping in a Whole Foods, without a mask, in contravention of its prudent policy, during a mass pandemic. If your heart is set on products from a market with a mask requirement and you can't or won't wear a mask, your choices are to get your food delivered, have someone else shop for you, or reconsider wearing a mask for your own health and the good health of the other shoppers.
But that was Burroughs' conclusion to her ruling. She first had to demolish Manning's claims, one by one.
First, you can't bring First Amendment suits against private parties unless you can prove they were doing something under the control of a government body, she wrote. Manning failed to show that was the case.
But even if Manning could have made that case:
Plaintiff states that his religious beliefs prohibit him from wearing a mask, but the complaint lacks any allegations suggesting he was treated differently than others who do not share his religious belief or that Defendants’ actions were motivated by his religious beliefs. In fact, the complaint pleads that Defendants treated everyone the same and that everyone was subject to the Mask Policy.
Although Plaintiff alleges that Massachusetts had a mask mandate and that it was a state custom to wear masks, he is not challenging the Massachusetts mask mandate and he has not alleged any facts to show that Massachusetts coerced Defendants into implementing or enforcing their own Mask Policy.
Ah, but what about the federal criminal law Manning cited that prohibits discrimination?
That particular law does can only be enforced by law enforcement, not private citizens, Burroughs said. Count dismissed.
Yeah, but, Manning continued, Whole Foods conspired with the CDC and Gov. Baker to discriminate against him.
No, they didn't, or at least Manning provided no proof that they did, Burroughs wrote.
At most, the complaint alleges that [the managers who blocked him] worked for Whole Foods and that Officer Rinn arrived on the scene after responding to a call placed by Plaintiff. There are no other factual allegations that would suggest that the Defendants had any sort of agreement between themselves or anyone else, let alone an agreement to deprive Plaintiff of his rights. These "[v]ague and conclusory allegations about persons working together, with scant specifics as to the nature of their joint effort or the formation of their agreement, will not suffice to defeat a motion to dismiss." Alston, 988 F.3d at 578.
But the managers "practiced unauthorized medicine" by trying to get him to wear a mask, Manning persisted.
Wrong again, the judge volleyed.
Aside from his conclusory assertion that masks are medical treatment, there are no allegations that plausibly suggest that Defendants “were practic[ing] or attempt[ing] to practice medicine” by implementing and enforcing the Mask Policy.
Manning continued, alleging "civil harassment" under Massachusetts law and false imprisonment.
And so Burroughs continued as well, noting that in Massachusetts, "civil harassment" requires proof of a pattern of egregious behavior, and one incident at the door of a supermarket is no pattern. Also, Manning failed to prove that asking him to wear a mask was "specifically intended to cause fear, intimidation, or abuse."
False imprisonment? Please.
Plaintiff has failed to allege that he was not free to leave at any time during his interaction with Defendants. In his opposition brief, Plaintiff argues that he "was held and questioned by the police prior to being forced to leave the premise on threat of arrest. ... It is undisputed that Plaintiff called the police to the scene so any purported threat of arrest by the police fails to support the plausible inference that Defendants engaged in conduct that confined Plaintiff in any way.
Having completed dismissing all the allegations against the two store managers and the chain, Burroughs then went out of her way to specifically dismiss Manning's allegations against Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, even though Mackey himself had not specifically asked for dismissal, "because the complaint contains no substantive factual allegations regarding Mackey."
Via MetaFilter. H/t Rebecca.