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Case Name Couch v. Jabe (Sept. 22, 2006) PC-VA-0021
Docket / Court No. 7:05-cv-00642-PMS ( W.D. Va. )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On October 17, 2005, a Sunni Muslim incarcerated in a state correctional facility, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia. The defendants were officers at the Virginia Department of Corrections (“VDOC”), where the plaintiff was incarcerated. The ... read more >
On October 17, 2005, a Sunni Muslim incarcerated in a state correctional facility, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia. The defendants were officers at the Virginia Department of Corrections (“VDOC”), where the plaintiff was incarcerated. The plaintiff alleged that during his Ramadan Fast the defendants failed to provide adequate food to him, when instead of full 2,200 calories including two hot meals, the defendants only provided 1,000 calories of cold-bag meals. Additionally, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants interfered with his participation in post-Ramadan religious events. The plaintiff sued under 42 U.S.C. §1983. Representing himself, the plaintiff asked the district court to award punitive damages and injunctive relief for the injuries he received as a result of the defendants’ acts, which included a weight loss of 13 pounds, and diminished religious experience due to distractions from hunger. The plaintiff alleged violations of his right to freedom of religion in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and a violation of his right to Equal Protection and Due Process as guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

On September 22, 2006, after considering the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, the court denied the motion for summary judgment in part. The court set for trial the plaintiff’s claims under the First Amendment, RLUIPA, and the Due Process Clause for having been denied adequate nutrition and calories during Ramadan in 2003 and 2004, and for having been denied post-Ramadan religious events in 2004 and 2005.

Also, on September 22, 2006, the court granted the plaintiff's preliminary injunction and ordered the defendants to provide daily food containing approximately 2,200 calories, between sunset and dawn during the 2006 Ramadan period beginning the next day. (The defendants provided 2,200 calories of food each day to all non-fasting inmates.)

On February 16, 2007, the parties participated in a settlement conference. On March 19, 2007, the court dismissed the case because the parties reached an settlement agreement and moved for a voluntary dismissal of the case, which the court approved. The order notes that the parties have agreed for the court to retain jurisdiction to enforce the parties’ Settlement Agreement, but the stated Agreement was not disclosed.

Soojin Cha - 01/27/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Free Exercise Clause
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Corrections
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Conditions of confinement
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Race, unspecified
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Virginia Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Plaintiff is a Sunni Muslim incarcerated in a state correctional facility, who worked for the facility's law library and served as chief liaison between the facility's officers and its Sunni Muslim group.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2007 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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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)
7:05-cv-00642-PMS (W.D. Va.) 01/30/2009
PC-VA-0021-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 10/17/2005
PC-VA-0021-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion on Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction 09/22/2006 (W.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0021-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order dismissing motion for summary judgment in part 09/22/2006 (W.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0021-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (Dismissing Case) 03/19/2007 (W.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0021-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Sargent, Pamela Meade (W.D. Va.) [Magistrate]
PC-VA-0021-0002 | PC-VA-0021-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers None on record
Defendant's Lawyers Muse, William W. (Virginia)
PC-VA-0021-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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