Case: United States v. Florida

1:12-cv-22958 | U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida

Filed Date: Aug. 14, 2012

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On August 14, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on behalf of Jewish prisoners under 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-2(f) and 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201 and 2202 against the Florida Department of Corrections. The DOJ asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that defendant violated religious freedoms granted by the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA). Specifically, plaint…

On August 14, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on behalf of Jewish prisoners under 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-2(f) and 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201 and 2202 against the Florida Department of Corrections. The DOJ asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that defendant violated religious freedoms granted by the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA). Specifically, plaintiffs claimed that the Florida Department of Corrections violated RLIUPA and substantially burdened the prisoners' religious exercise by not offering kosher meals to inmates.

On May 15, 2013, Muslim prisoners filed a motion to intervene, seeking halal, or in the alternative, kosher meals for Muslim prisoners who observed halal dietary laws. Judge Patricia A. Seitz denied the motion on September 6, 2013. 2013 WL 4786829.

The court issued a preliminary injunction on December 6, 2013. It required the defendants to provide a kosher diet program to all prisoners with a sincere religious belief by July 2014. It also enjoined three of the state’s methods for issuing a religious diet program: 1) the Orthodox sincerity test, 2) the “ten-percent rule,” which removed a prisoner from the Religious Diet Program for missing ten percent of meals within a month, and 3) a zero tolerance rule that suspended the kosher diet for prisoners who were caught eating non-kosher once, without opportunity to contest suspension.

The defendants filed motions for a stay of the preliminary injunction both to the Eleventh Circuit and the district court. The motions contested the enjoining of the three “tests” for granting a kosher diet as well as the July 2014 deadline for compliance. The Eleventh Circuit denied the motion for a stay in May 2014. The district then denied the motion for stay in June 2014. On June 27, 2014, the Circuit remanded to the district court to alter the July deadline.

On February 27, 2015, the Eleventh Circuit dismissed the defendant's remaining appeals of the preliminary injunction because of mootness. It ruled that under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), which governs all RLUIPA challenges, a preliminary injunction would expire automatically after 90 days unless the court “makes the findings required under subsection (a)(1) for the entry of prospective relief. . .” and “makes the order final before the expiration of the 90-day period.” 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(2). The district court made neither finding, so the preliminary injunction expired in March 2014.

Judge Seitz ruled on the summary judgment motions for declaratory relief and permanent injunctions on April 30, 2015. 2015 WL 1977795. Declaratory relief was granted to the plaintiffs for three claims. The court held that the defendant violated RLUIPA through 1) denial of a kosher diet to sincere prisoners, 2) its “ten-percent rule”, and 3) its zero tolerance rule.

Summary judgment was also granted to the defendants on two claims, declaring that 1) the doctrinal sincerity test for a special diet did not violate RLUIPA as long as it was not unduly weighted in determining sincerity, and 2) an anti-bartering policy did not violate RLUIPA.

The court then issued its final ruling on a permanent injunction on August 12, 2015. 2015 WL 4768247. The injunction ordered the defendants to 1) offer a kosher diet to all prisoners with a sincere religious basis for keeping kosher, 2) end the ten percent rule, and 3) stop enforcement of the zero tolerance rule without an opportunity for prisoners to contest their removal or suspension. The court then furthered ordered that the defendants create auditing and training procedures, produce both monthly and quarterly reports, and open access of their facilities to the Federal Dept. of Corrections. It provided a thirty day period to cure the failures in the kosher diet program.

On September 11, 2015, the defendants appealed the order. On July 14, 2016, the Eleventh Circuit (Judges William Pryor, Jill Pryor, Richard Story) denied the appeal, holding that the defendants had not proved a compelling governmental interest for not providing kosher meals to the inmates. Moreover, the court stated that even if the defendants had a compelling governmental interest, there was no proof that denying kosher meals was the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.

Over the following months, the court continued to receive reports on compliance with the order and also fielded grievances from prisoners denied entry into the kosher diet program (though none received an additional hearing). A hearing was held on October 23, 2018, when the parties discussed the quarterly and monthly reports, the auditing process and filing a joint motion to terminate the injunction. The the joint motion to terminate the injunction and declaratory judgement was filed on December 5, 2018.

On January 9, 2019, the court ordered the motion to terminate the injunction to be granted following two years without evidence of violation. However, the court denied the motion to terminate the declaratory judgement to ensure the Department of Corrections continues to have a legal responsibility to meet religious dietary preferences.

During April and May, prisoners mailed motions requesting enforced relief and inquiring into updates in the proceedings. On May 22, 2019, the court denied the motion to enforce relief from the previously entered permanent injunction. However, the permanent injunction was dissolved on January 9, 2019, and there was no injunction to enforce.

As of October 31, 2019, the declaratory judgement remains in effect ensuring the Department of Corrections to meet the religious dietary preferences of prisoners.

Summary Authors

Christina Bonanni (10/18/2013)

Dan Hofman (4/10/2016)

Daniele de Oliveira Nunes (11/2/2018)

Emma Himes (10/31/2019)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4684639/parties/united-states-v-secretary-department-of-corrections/


Judge(s)

Seitz, Patricia A. (Florida)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Blumberg, Jeffrey (District of Columbia)

Dimsey, Dennis J. (District of Columbia)

Dreiband, Eric S. (District of Columbia)

Fox, Deena (District of Columbia)

Gross, Mark L. (District of Columbia)

Harrell-James, Veronica Vanessa (Florida)

Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)

Samuels, Jocelyn (District of Columbia)

Songer, Michael J. (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Seitz, Patricia A. (Florida)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Blumberg, Jeffrey (District of Columbia)

Dimsey, Dennis J. (District of Columbia)

Dreiband, Eric S. (District of Columbia)

Fox, Deena (District of Columbia)

Gross, Mark L. (District of Columbia)

Harrell-James, Veronica Vanessa (Florida)

Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)

Samuels, Jocelyn (District of Columbia)

Songer, Michael J. (District of Columbia)

Wang, Christopher C. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Bondi, Pamela Jo (Florida)

Braun, Jamie Melissa (Florida)

Grimes, David W. (Florida)

Kowalchyk, Dean Clinton (Florida)

Kverne, Erik D. (Florida)

Maher, Susan Adams (Florida)

Tietig, Lisa Kuhlman (Florida)

Vail, E. Jason (Florida)

Other Attorney(s)

Austin, Roy L. (District of Columbia)

Berg, Randall Challen Jr. (Florida)

Camp, John Anderson (Florida)

Christianson, Jennifer (Florida)

Ferrer, Wilfredo A (Florida)

Mygatt, Timothy D (District of Columbia)

Perez, Thomas E. (District of Columbia)

Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)

Trevisani, Dante Pasquale (Florida)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

United States v. Secretary Department of Corrections

Nov. 5, 2019 Docket
1

Complaint

Aug. 14, 2012 Complaint
13

Order Denying Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion to Transfer Venue

2012 WL 6626818

Dec. 19, 2012 Order/Opinion
29

United States' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction

April 10, 2013 Pleading / Motion / Brief
56-1

United States [Proposed] Findings of Fact and Conclusion of Law

May 24, 2013 Pleading / Motion / Brief
59

Motion to Intervene with Memorandum of Law for Plaintiff-Intervenors

May 30, 2013 Pleading / Motion / Brief
77

Order Denying Motion to Intervene

2013 WL 4786829

Sept. 6, 2013 Order/Opinion
104

First Amended Complaint

Nov. 25, 2013 Complaint
106

Order Granting Preliminary Injunction, Resetting Trial Date, and Setting Status Conference

2013 WL 6697786

Dec. 6, 2013 Order/Opinion

Brief for the United States as Appellee

U.S. v. Florida Department of Corrections

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

May 21, 2014 Pleading / Motion / Brief

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4684639/united-states-v-secretary-department-of-corrections/

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

ECF Number Description Date Link
13

ORDER denying 9 Motion to Dismiss; denying 9 Motion to Change Venue Answer Deadline 12/31/2012 Signed by Judge Patricia A. Seitz on 12/19/2012. (cqs)

Dec. 20, 2012 RECAP
46

Witness List for Preliminary Injunction Hearing by Secretary Department of Corrections.. (Maher, Susan) (Entered: 05/24/2013)

May 24, 2013 PACER
47

NOTICE by Secretary Department of Corrections, Florida Department of Corrections filing proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. Attorney Jason Vail added to party Secretary Department of Corrections(pty:dft). (Vail, Jason) (Entered: 05/24/2013)

May 24, 2013 PACER
48

NOTICE of Attorney Appearance by Jason Vail on behalf of Secretary Department of Corrections (Vail, Jason) (Entered: 05/24/2013)

May 24, 2013 PACER
49

Exhibit List by United States of America.. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Exhibit1, # 2 Exhibit Exhibit 2, # 3 Exhibit 3, # 4 Exhibit 4, # 5 Exhibit 5, # 6 Exhibit 6, # 7 Exhibit 7, # 8 Exhibit 8, # 9 Exhibit 9, # 10 Exhibit 10, # 11 Exhibit 11, # 12 Exhibit 12, # 13 Exhibit 13, # 14 Exhibit 14, # 15 Exhibit 15, # 16 Exhibit 16, # 17 Exhibit 17, # 18 Exhibit 18, # 19 Exhibit 19, # 20 Exhibit 20, # 21 Exhibit 21, # 22 Exhibit 22, # 23 Exhibit 23, # 24 Exhibit 24, # 25 Exhibit 25, # 26 Exhibit 26, # 27 Exhibit 27, # 28 Exhibit 28, # 29 Exhibit 29, # 30 Exhibit 30, # 31 Exhibit 31, # 32 Exhibit 32, # 33 Exhibit 33, # 34 Exhibit 34)(Songer, Michael) (Entered: 05/24/2013)

1 Exhibit Exhibit1

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33 Exhibit 33

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34 Exhibit 34

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May 24, 2013 PACER
50

Witness List by United States of America.. (Songer, Michael) (Entered: 05/24/2013)

May 24, 2013 PACER
51

NOTICE by United States of America Joint Statement of Issues in Dispute (Songer, Michael) (Entered: 05/24/2013)

May 24, 2013 PACER
52

NOTICE by United States of America Joint Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (Songer, Michael) (Entered: 05/24/2013)

May 24, 2013 PACER
53

(STRICKEN PER DE # 57)Proposed Findings of Fact and Proposed Conclusions of Law by United States of America. (Songer, Michael)Text Modified on 5/28/2013 (cqs). (Entered: 05/24/2013)

May 24, 2013 PACER
54

Clerks Notice to Filer re 53 Proposed Findings of Fact. Proposed Order Docketed as Main Document; CORRECTIVE ACTION REQUIRED - Filer must File a Notice of Striking, then resubmit the proposed order as instructed in the CM/ECF Administrative Procedures (cqs) (Entered: 05/24/2013)

May 24, 2013 PACER
55

NOTICE by Secretary Department of Corrections re 45 Exhibit List of Filing Exhibits (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1 - Declaration of Alex Taylor, with attachments, # 2 Exhibit 2 - Supplemental Declaration of Shane Phillips, with attachments, # 3 Exhibit 3 - Declaration of Kathy Fuhrman, with attachments, # 4 Exhibit 4 - Declaration of Rosalind Wromas, with attachments, # 5 Exhibit 4 (cont'd) - Declaration of Rosalind Wromas, with attachments, # 6 Exhibit 4 (cont'd) - Declaration of Rosalind Wromas, with attachments, # 7 Exhibit 5 - Declaration of Mark Tallent, # 8 Exhibit 6 - JDAP Religious Study Group Report with Appendices [DE 29-3], # 9 Exhibit 7 - Special Religious Diet Pilot Program - Initial 30-Day Review [DE 29-4], # 10 Exhibit 8 -US Department of Justice, FBOP, Program Statement P5360.09, dated 12/31/2004, # 11 Exhibit 9 - US Department of Justice, FBOP, Religious Diet Interview form BP-S699.053, # 12 Exhibit 10 - Florida Department of Corrections Procedure 503.006, revised May 22, 2013, # 13 Exhibit 11 - Florida Department of Corrections Form DC5-324, revised May 22, 2013, # 14 Exhibit 12 - Canteen records for inmate applicants from Union Correctional Institution for participation in Certified Food Option (CFO), # 15 Exhibit 13 - Canteen Menu - Kosher Items Only)(Maher, Susan) (Entered: 05/24/2013)

1 Exhibit 1 - Declaration of Alex Taylor, with attachments

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2 Exhibit 2 - Supplemental Declaration of Shane Phillips, with attachments

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3 Exhibit 3 - Declaration of Kathy Fuhrman, with attachments

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4 Exhibit 4 - Declaration of Rosalind Wromas, with attachments

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5 Exhibit 4 (cont'd) - Declaration of Rosalind Wromas, with attachments

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6 Exhibit 4 (cont'd) - Declaration of Rosalind Wromas, with attachments

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7 Exhibit 5 - Declaration of Mark Tallent

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8 Exhibit 6 - JDAP Religious Study Group Report with Appendices [DE 29-3]

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9 Exhibit 7 - Special Religious Diet Pilot Program - Initial 30-Day Review [DE 29-

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10 Exhibit 8 -US Department of Justice, FBOP, Program Statement P5360.09, dated 12/

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11 Exhibit 9 - US Department of Justice, FBOP, Religious Diet Interview form BP-S69

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12 Exhibit 10 - Florida Department of Corrections Procedure 503.006, revised May 22

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13 Exhibit 11 - Florida Department of Corrections Form DC5-324, revised May 22, 201

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14 Exhibit 12 - Canteen records for inmate applicants from Union Correctional Insti

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15 Exhibit 13 - Canteen Menu - Kosher Items Only

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May 24, 2013 PACER
56

NOTICE by United States of America proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law)(Songer, Michael) (Entered: 05/24/2013)

1 Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law

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May 24, 2013 PACER
77

ORDER denying 59 Motion to Intervene. Signed by Judge Patricia A. Seitz on 9/6/2013. (cqs)

Sept. 6, 2013 RECAP
307

ORDER denying 305 Motion to Stay. Signed by Judge Patricia A. Seitz on 6/11/2014. (cqs)

June 11, 2014 RECAP
327

ORDER granting 325 Motion to Modify Preliminary Injunction on Partial Remand from Eleventh Circuit. (See Order for full details.) Signed by Judge Patricia A. Seitz on 6/30/2014. (wc)

June 30, 2014 RECAP
498

ORDER ON MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT granting in part and denying in part 442 Motion for Summary Judgment; granting in part and denying in part 443 Motion for Summary Judgment. By May 6, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. the parties shall submit proposed final judgmentsand permanent injunctions in accordance with this Order. All pending motions are denied as moot. This case is closed. Signed by Judge Patricia A. Seitz on 4/30/2015. (wc)

April 30, 2015 RECAP
547

ORDER Re: Contents Of Injunction Signed by Judge Patricia A. Seitz on 8/12/2015. (cqs)

Aug. 12, 2015 RECAP
631

ORDER denying 628 Motion to Enforce Upon Finding of Contempt by a Party; denying as moot 629 Motion for Fee Exemption ; denying as moot 630 Motion for Advocacy Voice. Signed by Judge Patricia A. Seitz on 5/17/2016. (ls)

May 17, 2016 RECAP
656

ORDER denying 655 Motion Clarify Permanent Injunctionand Motion To Take Judicial Notice Signed by Judge Patricia A. Seitz on 11/2/2016. (cqs)

Nov. 2, 2016 RECAP
665

ORDER denying 663 Motion for Clarification. Signed by Judge Patricia A. Seitz on 1/4/2017. (cqs)

Jan. 4, 2017 RECAP
673

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO ENFORCE denying 671 Motion. Signed by Senior Judge Patricia A. Seitz on 3/14/2017. (lan)

March 14, 2017 RECAP
718

Order

May 7, 2018 PACER
719

Order on Motion to Intervene

May 7, 2018 PACER
726

Produce

July 24, 2018 PACER
756

ORDER granting in part 753 Motion to Vacate And Terminate Injunction. Signed by Senior Judge Patricia A. Seitz on 1/9/2019. See attached document for full details. (vmz)

Jan. 9, 2019 RECAP
762

Miscellaneous Relief

May 21, 2019 PACER
763

Order on Motion for Miscellaneous Relief

May 22, 2019 PACER
767

Miscellaneous Relief

Nov. 5, 2019 PACER
768

Intervene

Jan. 14, 2020 PACER
769

Intervene

Feb. 21, 2020 PACER
770

Order on Motion for Miscellaneous Relief

Aug. 10, 2020 PACER
771

ORDER Denying 768 Motion to Intervene For a Motion to Vacate Order Terminating Injunction and Denying as Moot 769 Inquiry re: Motion. Signed by Senior Judge Patricia A. Seitz on 8/20/2020. See attached document for full details. (pa00)

Aug. 20, 2020 RECAP
772

Notice (Other)

Jan. 11, 2021 PACER
773

Produce

Feb. 16, 2021 PACER
774

Notice (Other)

Feb. 23, 2021 PACER
775

Notice (Other)

March 9, 2021 PACER
776

ORDER denying 773 Motion to Produce. Signed by Senior Judge Patricia A. Seitz on 3/10/2021. See attached document for full details. (pa00)

March 10, 2021 RECAP
777

Appoint Counsel

Oct. 26, 2021 PACER
778

Order on Motion to Appoint Counsel

Nov. 10, 2021 PACER
779

Notice (Other)

Dec. 13, 2021 PACER

State / Territory: Florida

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: Aug. 14, 2012

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Plaintiffs are Jewish inmates in Southern Florida Correctional Facilities.

Plaintiff Type(s):

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Florida Department of Corrections, State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

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

Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201

Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Free Exercise Clause

Equal Protection

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

Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order

Declaratory Judgment

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Order Duration: 2015 - 2019

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted

Discrimination Prohibition

Develop anti-discrimination policy

Reporting

Recordkeeping

Auditing

Monitoring

Training

Issues

General:

Food service / nutrition / hydration

Religious programs / policies

Discrimination-basis:

Religion discrimination

Type of Facility:

Government-run