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Case Name Carr v. Samuels PC-IN-0018
Docket / Court 2:14-cv-00001-WTL-WGH ( S.D. Ind. )
State/Territory Indiana
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization Washington Lawyers' Committee
Case Summary
On January 3, 2013, Muslim prisoners filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The plaintiffs sued the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for failing to provide certified halal meals to the prisoners. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiffs alleged that ... read more >
On January 3, 2013, Muslim prisoners filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The plaintiffs sued the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for failing to provide certified halal meals to the prisoners. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiffs alleged that the failure to provide a halal-certified diet was a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000bb-1(c)and a violation of the Fifth Amendments' equal protection requirement.

The prisoners' Religious Diet Program provided kosher meals, however the meat in kosher meals was not slaughtered according to Islamic law, and furthermore had the tendency to be contaminated by alcohol and other product forbidden under Islamic law. Prisoners were also offered a "no-pork" or "no-flesh" alternative meal plan, however these too were susceptible to contamination by products forbidden under Islamic law. Prisoners had the option of purchasing food through the Commissary, however there were very few halal-certified products, and prisoners were unable to afford such products. As a result, the prisoners had to violate their religion in order to survive.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons' Religious Diet Program originated in a 1980 lawsuit filed by Muslim inmates seeking access to halal meals. In response to that suit, in 1984 the BOP voluntarily instituted the Modified Common Fare Religious Diet Program, which would be free of pork and pork derivatives, free of contamination, and would include at least three hot entrees a week to accommodate the religious diet needs of the Muslim and Jewish inmates. Al Shakir v. Carlson, 605 F. Supp. 374, 375 (M.D. Penn. 1984). Although some halal meals were served at different facilities after 1984, at some point the Federal Bureau of Prisons abandoned the Modified Common Fare Religious Diet Program in favor of a Religious Diet Program called the Certified Processed Foods Program, which consisted of individual sealed trays of pre-prepared kosher-certified meals. The Religious Diet Program meals were not certified as halal.

The plaintiffs allege that the defendant's failure to provide the plaintiffs with meals that conformed to their religious beliefs placed a substantial burden on their religious exercise, a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which did not further a compelling government interest. The plaintiffs also alleged that the defendant's failure to provide them with halal meals violated the Equal Protection clause of the Fifth Amendment.

The plaintiffs sought declaratory relief and an injunction requiring that the defendant provide the plaintiffs with a halal-certified diet that conformed to their religious beliefs. They also asked for attorney's fees.

The parties engaged in discovery for several years. On October 11, 2016, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent the defendants from denying Plaintiffs access to halal-certified meals with meat that accord with their religious beliefs.

On October 28, 2016, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the claims of three plaintiffs for lack of jurisdiction. The defendants argued that their claims were moot because they had been moved the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute and had not requested to be placed in the BOP's Certified Religious Diet Program.

On July 28, 2017, following additional discovery, the plaintiffs filed, and the court granted, a motion for leave to supplement their preliminary injunction with material factual information that had been unavailable to them at the time of the initial briefing in late 2016.

On September 19, 2017, Judge Lawrence ruled on all of the pending motions. He denied the defendants' motion to dismiss and denied the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction as moot. Judge Lawrence then ordered the parties to present all of their arguments in summary judgment briefs.

In late 2017, both parties filed cross motions for summary judgment. On September 19, 2018, Judge Lawrence denied both parties' motions for summary judgment. A bench trial is currently set for June 3, 2019. This case is ongoing.

Rachel June-Graber - 02/22/2016
Eva Richardson - 10/14/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Free Exercise Clause
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Conditions of confinement
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Defendant(s) United States Department of Justice
Plaintiff Description Muslim prisoners in the federal prison system.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Washington Lawyers' Committee
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2014
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)
2:14-cv-00001-WTL-WGH (S.D. Ind.)
PC-IN-0018-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/17/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PC-IN-0018-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/03/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief and Attorneys' Fees [ECF# 18]
PC-IN-0018-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/13/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Dinsmore, Mark. J. (S.D. Ind.) [Magistrate]
PC-IN-0018-9000
Lawrence, William T. (S.D. Ind.)
PC-IN-0018-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Appel, Carolyn (New York)
PC-IN-0018-9000
Garagiola, Meredith N. (District of Columbia)
PC-IN-0018-9000
Garcia, Bradley N. (District of Columbia)
PC-IN-0018-9000
Gill, Matthew C. (District of Columbia)
PC-IN-0018-9000
Golden, Deborah Maxine (District of Columbia)
PC-IN-0018-0001
Hammack, Scott M. (New York)
PC-IN-0018-9000
Leviss, David J. (District of Columbia)
PC-IN-0018-0001 | PC-IN-0018-0002 | PC-IN-0018-9000
Love, Lindsey R. (District of Columbia)
PC-IN-0018-9000
McDermott, John P. (District of Columbia)
PC-IN-0018-9000
Meals, Darcy M. (District of Columbia)
PC-IN-0018-9000
Thorn, Jessica L. (District of Columbia)
PC-IN-0018-9000
Zaslavsky, Sergei (District of Columbia)
PC-IN-0018-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Woods, Shelese M. (Indiana)
PC-IN-0018-9000

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