On June 7, 2005, Plaintiff, a Jewish former prisoner, filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Vermont under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act against five employees of the Vermont Department of Corrections (DOC) in their ...
read more >
On June 7, 2005, Plaintiff, a Jewish former prisoner, filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Vermont under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act against five employees of the Vermont Department of Corrections (DOC) in their official and individual capacities. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for damages and injunctive relief, alleging that the employees of the DOC denied or limited his ability to practice his Jewish faith during the time he was incarcerated. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the employees denied him minor modifications that would allow the plaintiff to observe his Jewish religion in a meaningful manner and denied his requests for certain food and religious items to celebrate Jewish holidays.
The defendants moved for summary judgment claiming that sovereign immunity protects the employees of the DOC from being sued in their official capacities and that injunctive relief was moot because the plaintiff was no longer incarcerated. On November 28, 2007, the District Court (Magistrate Judge Jerome J. Niedermeier) filed a report recommending that summary judgment be denied in part and granted in part. Judge Niedermeier agreed with the defendants that the claim for injunctive relief should be dismissed as moot and that the defendants were protected under the 11th Amendment in their official capacities. However, the report stated that the plaintiff produced enough evidence to make a reasonable inference of malice to support his claims for punitive damages against certain defendants in their individual capacities.
A settlement agreement was filed with the court and approved on March 21, 2008. The plaintiff agreed to release all claims against the State of Vermont and each of the named defendants in the present case in exchange for $25,000 and the acknowledgement that certain providers of religious food and articles are appropriate pursuant to the DOC's policies on religious observances. The parties agreed to dismiss the action with prejudice.Ashley Grolig - 10/16/2014