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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 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 ... read more >
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.

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. 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.

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 injunction, hopefully before the end of the year.

As of November 2018, the court had not issue any additional orders as a result of deficient compliance.

Christina Bonanni - 10/18/2013
Dan Hofman - 04/10/2016
Daniele de Oliveira Nunes - 11/02/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Free Exercise Clause
Content of Injunction
Auditing
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Monitoring
Preliminary relief granted
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
Filed Pro Se 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
Filing Year 2012
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
Date: May 2006
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University Faculty)
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
Book
Date: Jan. 1, 1998
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
1:12-cv-22958-PAS (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/20/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-FL-0019-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/14/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion to Transfer Venue [ECF# 13] (2012 WL 6626818) (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/19/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
United States' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 29]
PC-FL-0019-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/10/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
United States [Proposed] Findings of Fact and Conclusion of Law [ECF# 56-1]
PC-FL-0019-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/24/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion to Intervene with Memorandum of Law for Plaintiff-Intervenors [ECF# 59]
PC-FL-0019-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/30/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Motion to Intervene [ECF# 77] (2013 WL 4786829) (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/06/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 104]
PC-FL-0019-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/25/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Preliminary Injunction, Resetting Trial Date, and Setting Status Conference [ECF# 106] (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/06/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief for the United States as Appellee
PC-FL-0019-0022.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/21/2014
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Order [of USCA Appellant's Motion for Partial Stay of Preliminary Injunction Order Pending Appeal] [ECF# 273] (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/22/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [denying 305 Motion to Stay] [ECF# 307] (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/11/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [of limited remand from USCA] [ECF# 324] (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/27/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [of Dismissal] [ECF# 460] (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/27/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice Of Filing: Third Party Complaint For Specific Preformance Of Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 461]
PC-FL-0019-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/04/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Corrected Order of Dismissal [ECF# 468] (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/13/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Mandate [of Florida's appeal and district court's order] [ECF# 495] (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/22/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order On Motions for Summary Judgment [ECF# 498] (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0018.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/30/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Complaint for Interpleader and Joinder of Claims [ECF# 526]
PC-FL-0019-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/10/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Re: Contents Of Injunction [ECF# 547] (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0020.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/12/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment and Permanent Injunction [ECF# 548] (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0019-0021.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/12/2015
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
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-0019-0004 | 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-0019-0009 | 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
Samuels, Jocelyn (District of Columbia)
PC-FL-0019-0009
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-0019-0009 | PC-FL-0019-0015 | PC-FL-0019-9000
Trevisani, Dante Pasquale (Florida)
PC-FL-0019-0004 | PC-FL-0019-9000
Wang, Christopher C. (District of Columbia)
PC-FL-0019-0022
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

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