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Case Name Roberts v. Sinclair PC-WA-0027
Docket / Court 2:18-cv-00837-RSM-BAT ( W.D. Wash. )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Case Summary
A group of practicing Muslim prisoners at the Monroe Correctional Complex filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on June 10, 2018, alleging that prison staff deprived them of nighttime meals while they were fasting during Ramadan. Represented by the ... read more >
A group of practicing Muslim prisoners at the Monroe Correctional Complex filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on June 10, 2018, alleging that prison staff deprived them of nighttime meals while they were fasting during Ramadan. Represented by the Center for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), they brought this action against the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) and sought declaratory and emergency injunctive relief. According to the plaintiffs, despite their requests, the prison chaplain refused to add them to a list of prisoners to be served specially-timed meals during the month of Ramadan (“the Ramadan List”), in effect subjecting them to a “starvation policy” because the normal schedule for meals at the prison all fell within the time of day when they are fasting. They alleged that this violated the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause, the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).

Along with their complaint, the plaintiffs also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order that would force the prison to provide them with legally adequate meals through the end of Ramadan; that motion was granted by District Judge Ronald B. Leighton the same day.

In its answer, the DOC denied virtually all of the pertinent allegations in the complaint. It disputed the plaintiffs’ contention that it refused to add them to the Ramadan List, maintaining that the prisoners had not signed up during the established sign-up period. It denied the existence of a “starvation policy” towards Muslims at the prison. Finally, it made a number of different affirmative defenses, including qualified immunity for state government officials. The case has been assigned to District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss on September 4, 2018. On October 3, 2018, in light of the plaintiffs' amended complaint, submitted on September 12, 2018, the court dismissed the defendants' motion as moot. The parties began discovery in preparation for the trial, scheduled for October 7, 2019.

The defendants moved for summary judgment on July 9, 2019. Their motion asserted that the plaintiffs had failed to exhaust administrative remedies before filing their amended complaint. Defendants also argued that the sign-up procedures for the "Ramadan List" did not significantly burden the plaintiffs' religious beliefs and served a compelling government interest, making the RLUIPA claims not viable. They defendants further asserted that they were entitled to qualified immunity on the constitutional claims.

The plaintiffs filed their own motion for summary judgment that same day. Their brief reasserted an argument for the validity of their RLUIPA claims, the 8th Amendment claim, and their Equal Protection and Free Exercise claim. They also argued that the defendants should not be entitled to qualified immunity.

The court granted the defendants motion for summary judgment on September 6, 2019 and dismissed all of the plaintiffs' claims as moot. 2019 WL 4246981. Defendants filed for costs on September 27, 2019. Their request was granted in part and denied in part on October 22, 2019.

The plaintiffs appealed the order granting the defendants motion for summary judgment to the Ninth Circuit. On December 29, 2020, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the decision. The Ninth Circuit found that the plaintiffs had failed to exhaust their available administrative remedies, and therefore could not bring their claims in court. The case is now closed.

Alexander Walling - 08/01/2018
Alex Moody - 03/25/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Equal Protection
Free Exercise Clause
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Corrections
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Conditions of confinement
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Defendant(s) Washington State Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Prisoners at the Monroe Correctional Complex who are practicing Muslims.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
None
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 06/10/2018
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
W.D. Wash.
01/20/2021
2:18-cv-00837-RSM
PC-WA-0027-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
W.D. Wash.
07/09/2019
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 73]
PC-WA-0027-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
07/09/2019
Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment as to Liability and Permanent Injunctive Relief [ECF# 79 & 79-1]
PC-WA-0027-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
U.S. Court of Appeals
12/29/2020
Memorandum [Ct. of App. ECF# 55] (832 Fed.Appx. 511)
PC-WA-0027-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
W.D. Wash.
01/20/2021
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-WA-0027-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Bumatay, Patrick Joseph (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0027-0004
Hunsaker, Danielle Jo (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0027-0004
Martinez, Ricardo S. (W.D. Wash.) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0027-9000
McKeown, M. Margaret (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0027-0004
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abbas, Gadeir Ibrahim (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0027-0001 | PC-WA-0027-0003 | PC-WA-0027-9000
Gairson, Jay W. (Washington) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0027-0001 | PC-WA-0027-0003 | PC-WA-0027-9000
Homer, Carolyn M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0027-0003 | PC-WA-0027-9000
Masri, Lena Fatina (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0027-0001 | PC-WA-0027-0003 | PC-WA-0027-9000
Misasi, Amanda Nicole (Washington) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0027-9000
Mohamed, Ahmed M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0027-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Feulner, Timothy J. (Washington) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0027-0002 | PC-WA-0027-9000
Lang, Timothy Norman (Washington) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0027-9000

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