On September 15, 2004, a Hollywood synagogue filed a lawsuit under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 ("RLUIPA"), 42 U.S.C. §1983, and the Florida Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("Florida RFRA"), against the City of Hollywood, FL. in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, Ft. Lauderdale division. The plaintiff, represented by private and public interest counsel, sought declaratory, injunctive, punitive, and compensatory relief, claiming that the City unequally and selectively applied zoning ordinances. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that defendant's treatment of plaintiff's special exception applications and defendant's action to prevent organized religious services from taking place on the plaintiff's property constituted discrimination on the basis of religion.
Plaintiff claimed that defendants treated its applications for special exemptions to local land use regulations differently because of its status as a religious institution. This alleged discrimination included, inter alia
, adding unprecedented conditions to the granting of special exemptions, and seeking a permanent injunction in state court against defendants to prevent the use of the synagogue as a place of worship.
On April 26, 2005, the United States filed a complaint against Defendant City of Hollywood, requesting declaratory and injunctive relief based up on the City's alleged violation of RLUIPA.
On June 16, 2005, the Court (Judge Joan A. Lenard) consolidated both of the aforementioned cases, finding that they involved common questions of law and fact.
On May 10, 2006, the Court granted in part and denied in part defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint, dismissing plaintiffs' claims under Florida RFRA, along with some of the federal claims. The Court found that the City's alleged policy of harassment, selective enforcement, and retaliation was sufficient to constitute the moving force behind the plaintiff's injuries. Hollywood Community Synagogue, Inc. v. City of Hollywood, 430 F.Supp.2d 1296.
On June 26, 2006, the Court granted in part plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment, holding that the land ordinance was unconstitutional prior restraint on places of worship and that the City was liable under §1983. Hollywood Community Synagogue, Inc. v. City of Hollywood, 436 F.Supp.2d 1325.
On June 27, 2006, the Court granted in part and denied in part defendants' motions for summary judgment. The Court denied the motion in regards to all of the plaintiffs' claims, except for their Substantive Due Process claims as they relate to equitable estoppel.
On July 7, 2006, the court approved and entered a consent decree. The consent order barred the City from violating RLUIPA, decreed that future new procedures regarding religious land-use applications must be provided to the Department of Justice, and determined that each application will be reviewed de novo by the Developmental Review Board Hearing. The decree also ordered public and online signage declaring that the city does not discriminate against religious exercise in violation of RLUIPA. The City will also provide training to its employees on the requirements of RLUIPA. To remedy past actions in this case, the City agreed to allow the plaintiff to operate as a house of worship in perpetuity and make additional zoning concessions [PLEASE BE MORE SPECIFIC, SEE 380]. The duration of this order was 5 years after the date of its entry, or 3 years after the City's new special exception procedures take effect, whichever is later. The case was dismissed with prejudice and all pending motions were denied as moot.
On August 7, 2006, the appellant's motion to dismiss the appeal with prejudice was granted by the Eleventh Circuit, due to the consent decree.Timothy Shoffner - 05/31/2012
Rachel June-Graber - 02/15/2016