Case: Dowdy-El v. Caruso

2:06-cv-11765 | U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

Filed Date: April 12, 2006

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On April 12, 2006, a group of Muslim and Christian prisoners in various Michigan correctional facilities filed a § 1983 lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against the Michigan Department of Corrections ("MDOC"). On January 27, 2010, the prisoners, then represented by both the ACLU and private counsel, filed a second amended complaint seeking class certification for all current and future similarly situated inmates. The prisoners claimed that the MDO…

On April 12, 2006, a group of Muslim and Christian prisoners in various Michigan correctional facilities filed a § 1983 lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against the Michigan Department of Corrections ("MDOC"). On January 27, 2010, the prisoners, then represented by both the ACLU and private counsel, filed a second amended complaint seeking class certification for all current and future similarly situated inmates.

The prisoners claimed that the MDOC violated § 3 of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 ("RLUIPA") 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc et seq.; the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants' actions restricted them from attending religious services because of mandatory prison activities such as work duty. Specifically, the Muslim prisoners sought the following relief: accommodation to attend a religiously-required service on Fridays that did not conflict with other mandatory prisoner activities, such as work assignments; reversal of any punishment by the MDOC against inmates who refused to attend prison assignments that required the prisoners to miss any provided Friday Islamic religious services; accommodation for Muslim prisoners to be provided a religiously-mandated halal diet; and finally, accommodation to observe two annual religious feasts. In addition, a Seventh-Day Adventist prisoner sought similar accommodations for observance of the Saturday holy day and reversals of similar disciplinary measures. The prisoners sought injunctive and declaratory relief remedying and enjoining the actions by the MDOC. The case was assigned to Judge Avern Cohn and Magistrate Judge David Grand.

On December 20, 2012, Judge Avern Cohn adopted Magistrate Judge Grand's report and recommendation and granted the prisoners' motion for class certification. The class was certified as “'all current and future Michigan Muslim inmates who desire but have been denied ... the ability to participate in Jum'ah because of a conflicting work, school or similar detail. With respect to the provision of a halal diet, plaintiffs seek to certify a class comprised of “all current and future Michigan Muslim inmates who desire but have been denied ... a halal diet that is free of contamination by foods considered haram,' i.e., non-halal meats and/or vegetarian foods that have been 'contaminated' by coming into contact with such meats." Dowdy-El v. Caruso, No. 06-11765, 2012 WL 6642763, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Dec. 20, 2012).

On May 24, 2013, Judge Cohn granted in part and denied in part both the prisoners' and the MDOC's motions for summary judgment. Judge Cohn dismissed the prisoners' Equal Protection claims relating to the prayer services and dietary accommodations. The court also dismissed the free exercise claims relating to prayer services. But the free exercise claims relating to a halal diet were allowed to proceed as were the RLUIPA claims relating to both prayer services and dietary accommodations. Judge Cohn granted summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs on all claims relating to the two annual religious feasts.

On September 10, 2013, the prisoners moved for approval of a proposed class settlement agreement regarding the remaining issues before the court (the free exercise and RLUIPA claims for a halal diet and RLUIPA claims regarding accommodation for prayer services). On September 17, 2013, Judge Cohn issued an order preliminarily approving the parties' proposed settlement agreement which introduced new MDOC policies designed to meet the prisoners' remaining concerns. The agreement required the defendants to provide meals that comport with halal religious tenets and to provide notice to prisoners within 30 days of entry of judgment informing them that all disciplinary actions were to be expunged insofar as they related to requests for halal meals.

On November 20, 2013, the court approved the settlement agreement and dismissed the case. In doing so, he also overruled several non-party objections to the settlement agreement and also denied several parties' motions to intervene. The court also found that the MDOC had adopted an appropriate policy regarding accommodations for halal diets. The court further directed the MDOC to expunge from prisoners' records any punishment for missing a jail appointment such as a work, school, or administrative assignment due to a conflicting religious service. The court retained jurisdiction solely for the purpose of enforcing any provision of the court's order.

The MDOC filed two appeals, but the Sixth Circuit rejected both for lack of jurisdiction on January 15, 2014 and March 3, 2014, respectively.

Over the next four years, separate members of the class action filed several motions seeking injunctions against the defendants for failure to comply with the settlement. The court repeatedly denied these requests for failure to state a claim. One such member of the class action appealed to the Sixth Circuit in December 2015. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to deny this member’s request for relief for allegedly being served contaminated halal food–the Sixth Circuit found such relief was not within the scope of the original settlement. Judge Cohn denied a motion for contempt and enforcement of judgment on August 29, 2018. As of April 10, 2020, the case is ongoing for monitoring and enforcement purposes.

Summary Authors

Alex Wharton (1/6/2015)

Carolyn Weltman (2/8/2016)

Jake Parker (7/10/2018)

Elizabeth Heise (10/30/2018)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4291192/parties/dowdy-v-caruso/


Judge(s)

Cohn, Avern Levin (Michigan)

Grand, David R. (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Collier, Trent (Michigan)

Cook, Michael J. (Michigan)

McFarland, Todd (Maryland)

Moss, Kary L. (Michigan)

Quick, Daniel D. (Michigan)

Steinberg, Michael J. (Michigan)

Yitzchaki, Doron (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Dean, Michael R. (Michigan)

Judge(s)

Cohn, Avern Levin (Michigan)

Grand, David R. (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Collier, Trent (Michigan)

Cook, Michael J. (Michigan)

McFarland, Todd (Maryland)

Moss, Kary L. (Michigan)

Quick, Daniel D. (Michigan)

Steinberg, Michael J. (Michigan)

Yitzchaki, Doron (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Dean, Michael R. (Michigan)

Himebaugh, Kevin R. (Michigan)

Thurber, John L. (Michigan)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Dowdy v. Caruso

Aug. 29, 2018 Docket
1

Complaint

April 12, 2006 Complaint
13

First Amended Class Action Complaint

Feb. 2, 2009 Complaint
37

Second Amended Class Action Complaint

Jan. 27, 2010 Complaint
77

Memorandum and Order Adopting Report and Recommendation and Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification

2012 WL 6642763

Dec. 20, 2012 Order/Opinion
80

Memorandum and Order

May 24, 2013 Order/Opinion
85

Judgment

Aug. 13, 2013 Order/Opinion
88

Preliminary Order Approving Settlement

Sept. 17, 2013 Order/Opinion
129

Order Approving Settlement and Dismissing Case

Nov. 20, 2013 Order/Opinion
223

Order Denying Motion for Contempt

Oct. 6, 2015 Order/Opinion

Resources

Title Description External URL

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4291192/dowdy-v-caruso/

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
4

ORDER GRANTING 3 Request Regarding Payment of Filing Fee filed by Eric Dowdy,, Mujahid Latif,, James Holly,, Averis Wilson, Signed by Honorable Avern Cohn. (JOwe, )

April 25, 2006 RECAP
70

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION on Cross Motions for Summary Judgment 55 , 57 - Signed by Magistrate Judge David R. Grand. (FMos)

July 24, 2012 RECAP
73

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION on Plaintiffs' 56 MOTION for Class Certification - Signed by Magistrate Judge David R. Grand. (FMos)

Aug. 15, 2012 RECAP
77

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ADOPTING 73 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND GRANTING PLAINTIFFS 56 MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION. Signed by District Judge Avern Cohn. (SSro)

Dec. 21, 2012 RECAP
80

Memorandum and Order Adopting 70 Report and Recommendation and Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants' 55 Motion for Summary Judgment and Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiffs' 57 Motion for Summary Judgment and Setting a Status Conference. Signed by District Judge Avern Cohn. (SCha)

May 25, 2013 RECAP
127

MEMORANDUM and ORDER Overruling Objections to Settlement 103 117 120 . Signed by District Judge Avern Cohn. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A) (CBet)

1 Exhibit A

View on PACER

Nov. 20, 2013 RECAP
128

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER denying 92 124 Motion/Application to Intervene. Signed by District Judge Avern Cohn. (CBet)

Nov. 20, 2013 RECAP
140

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER OVERRULING SUPPLEMENTAL OBJECTIONS TO SETTLEMENT (Docs. 131, 132, 133, 136, 137). Signed by District Judge Avern Cohn. (CBet)

Nov. 26, 2013 RECAP
199

ORDER Denying 197 "Judicial Notice of Adjudicative Facts" Construed as a Motion to Enforce the Settlement Agreement Signed by District Judge Avern Cohn. (SCha)

April 21, 2015 RECAP
208

ORDER DENYING CLASS MEMBER MOTION FOR ENFORCEMENT OF SPECIFICACT OF JUDGMENT THAT REQUIRES MDOC TO PERMIT MUSLIMS SPECIALRELIGIOUS MEALS DURING EID-UL-FITR and EIDUL-ADHA FEASTS (Doc. 204). Signed by District Judge Avern Cohn. (MVer)

July 2, 2015 RECAP
213

ORDER denying 209 Motion for Reconsideration re 208 Order on Motion. Signed by District Judge Avern Cohn. (SCha)

July 20, 2015 RECAP
214

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO SHOW CAUSE FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT AND TO ENFORCE THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT (Doc. 211) AND DENYING MOTION FOR IMMEDIATE CONSIDERATION (Doc 210. Signed by District Judge Avern Cohn. (MVer)

July 27, 2015 RECAP
218

ORDER DENYING LORENSO JOHNSONS MOTION TO ENFORCE RELIGIOUS DIET COURT ORDER ON MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS (Doc. 215). Signed by District Judge Avern Cohn. (SCha)

Sept. 25, 2015 RECAP
221

ORDER DENYING DAWUD CLARKS MOTION TO ENFORCE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT (Doc. 216). Signed by District Judge Avern Cohn. (MVer)

Oct. 2, 2015 RECAP
223

ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR CONTEMPT (Doc. 219). Signed by District Judge Avern Cohn. (MVer)

Oct. 6, 2015 RECAP
240

ORDER DENYING FREDERICK ROBINSON'S MOTION TO ENFORCE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT re 234 Signed by District Judge Avern Cohn. (MVer)

Dec. 7, 2017 RECAP
243

ORDER DENYING BRIAN VAUGHNS MOTION TO ENFORCE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT (Doc. 237). Signed by District Judge Avern Cohn. (MVer)

Feb. 22, 2018 RECAP
244

ORDER DENYING FATHIREE ALIS MOTION TO ENFORCE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT (Doc. 238). Signed by District Judge Avern Cohn. (MVer)

Feb. 22, 2018 RECAP
246

Motion - Free

June 28, 2018 PACER
247

Requiring Responsive Pleading*

Aug. 9, 2018 PACER
248

Motion - Free

Aug. 10, 2018 PACER
249

Contempt

Aug. 14, 2018 PACER
250

Contempt

Aug. 16, 2018 PACER
251

Response to Motion

1 Index of Exhibits Index of Exhibits

View on PACER

2 Exhibit A. Email from Lamont Heard

View on PACER

3 Exhibit B. David Leachs Email

View on PACER

4 Exhibit C. Affidavit of David Leach

View on PACER

Aug. 20, 2018 PACER
252

Response to Motion

1 Exhibit A. MDOC PD 05.03.150

View on PACER

Aug. 27, 2018 PACER
253

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DENYING MOTIONS FOR ENFORCEMENT OF JUDGMENT (Docs. 246, 248) AND MOTIONS FOR CONTEMPT (Docs. 249, 250). Signed by District Judge Avern Cohn. (MVer)

Aug. 29, 2018 RECAP
254

Motion - Free

May 7, 2020 PACER

Text-Only Reassignment Pursuant to Administrative Order

May 12, 2020 PACER
255

Requiring Responsive Pleading*

May 14, 2020 PACER
256

Response to Motion

May 19, 2020 PACER
257

Order on Motion - Free

May 21, 2020 PACER
258

Motion - Free

May 27, 2020 PACER
259

Response to Motion

May 28, 2020 PACER
260

Order on Motion - Free

May 29, 2020 PACER
261

Reply to Response to Motion

June 5, 2020 PACER

State / Territory: Michigan

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: April 12, 2006

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Group of Muslim prisoners in various Michigan correctional facilities

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU of Michigan

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: Yes

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Michigan, State

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Equal Protection

Free Exercise Clause

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Non-settlement Outcome

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Litigation

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 2013 - None

Content of Injunction:

Develop anti-discrimination policy

Discrimination Prohibition

Required disclosure

Issues

General:

Food service / nutrition / hydration

Religious programs / policies

Discrimination-basis:

Religion discrimination

Type of Facility:

Government-run