University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name United States v. Florida PC-FL-0019
Docket / Court 1:12-cv-22958-PAS ( S.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On August 14, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit in the Southern District Court 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 ... read more >
On August 14, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit in the Southern District Court 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 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 observe halal dietary laws. Judge Patricia A. Seitz denied the motion on September 6, 2013.

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 will 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. 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. 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.

As of April 5, 2016, 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). Up to this point, the court did not issue any additional orders as a result of deficient compliance.

Christina Bonanni - 10/18/2013
Dan Hofman - 04/10/2016


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Free Exercise Clause
Content of Injunction
Auditing
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Monitoring
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Training
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
Defendant(s) Florida Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are Jewish inmates in Southern Florida Correctional Facilities.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Declaratory Judgment
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
1:12-cv-22958-PAS (S.D. Fla.) 04/01/2016
PC-FL-0019-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 08/14/2012
PC-FL-0019-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion to Transfer Venue 12/19/2012 (2012 WL 6626818) (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
United States' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction 04/10/2013
PC-FL-0019-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
United States [Proposed] Findings of Fact and Conclusion of Law 05/24/2013
PC-FL-0019-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion to Intervene with Memorandum of Law for Plaintiff-Intervenors 05/30/2013
PC-FL-0019-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Motion to Intervene 09/06/2013 (2013 WL 4786829) (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint 11/25/2013
PC-FL-0019-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [granting Preliminary Injunction, Resetting Trial Date and Setting Status Conference] 12/06/2013 (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [of USCA Appellant's Motion for Partial Stay of Preliminary Injunction Order Pending Appeal] 05/22/2014 (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0011.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [denying 305 Motion to Stay] 06/11/2014 (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0012.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [of limited remand from USCA] 06/27/2014 (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0013.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [of Dismissal] 02/27/2015 (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0014.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice Of Filing: Third Party Complaint For Specific Preformance Of Preliminary Injunction 03/04/2015
PC-FL-0019-0015.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Corrected Order of Dismissal 03/13/2015 (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0016.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Mandate [of Florida's appeal and district court's order] 04/22/2015 (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0017.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [on motions for summary judgment] 04/30/2015 (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0018.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Complaint for Interpleader and Joinder of Claims 07/10/2015
PC-FL-0019-0019.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Re: Contents Of Injunction] 08/12/2015 (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0020.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment and Permanent Injunction 08/12/2015 (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0021.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Seitz, Patricia A. (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0005 | PC-FL-0019-0006 | PC-FL-0019-0007 | PC-FL-0019-0010 | PC-FL-0019-0011 | PC-FL-0019-0012 | PC-FL-0019-0013 | PC-FL-0019-0014 | PC-FL-0019-0016 | PC-FL-0019-0017 | PC-FL-0019-0018 | PC-FL-0019-0020 | PC-FL-0019-0021 | PC-FL-0019-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Austin, Roy L. (District of Columbia)
PC-FL-0019-0008
Berg, Randall Challen Jr. (Florida)
PC-FL-0019-0004 | PC-FL-0019-9000
Blumberg, Jeffrey (District of Columbia)
PC-FL-0019-0015 | PC-FL-0019-9000
Camp, John Anderson (Florida)
PC-FL-0019-0004 | PC-FL-0019-9000
Christianson, Jennifer (Florida)
PC-FL-0019-9000
Ferrer, Wilfredo A (Florida)
PC-FL-0019-0001 | PC-FL-0019-0008 | PC-FL-0019-0009
Fox, Deena (District of Columbia)
PC-FL-0019-0008 | PC-FL-0019-0015 | PC-FL-0019-9000
Harrell-James, Veronica Vanessa (Florida)
PC-FL-0019-0001 | PC-FL-0019-0008 | PC-FL-0019-0009 | PC-FL-0019-9000
Mygatt, Timothy D (District of Columbia)
PC-FL-0019-0001 | PC-FL-0019-0008 | PC-FL-0019-0009 | PC-FL-0019-9000
Perez, Thomas E. (District of Columbia)
PC-FL-0019-0001
Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)
PC-FL-0019-0001 | PC-FL-0019-0008 | PC-FL-0019-0009
Songer, Michael J. (District of Columbia)
PC-FL-0019-0001 | PC-FL-0019-0007 | PC-FL-0019-0008 | PC-FL-0019-0015 | PC-FL-0019-9000
Trevisani, Dante Pasquale (Florida)
PC-FL-0019-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Kowalchyk, Dean Clinton (Florida)
PC-FL-0019-9000
Maher, Susan Adams (Florida)
PC-FL-0019-0007 | PC-FL-0019-9000
Tietig, Lisa Kuhlman (Florida)
PC-FL-0019-9000
Vail, E. Jason (Florida)
PC-FL-0019-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -