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Sareini v. Burnett

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division

January 10, 2017

ALI SAREINI, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVE BURNETT, et al, Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM PRIOR DISMISSAL

          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge

         On September 15, 2008, Plaintiff Ali Sareini filed a complaint against Defendants, all affiliated with the Michigan Department of Corrections, which alleged that Defendants had discriminated against Sareini on religious grounds. ECF No. 1. Sareini is an inmate in the custody of the Michigan Department of Corrections. In the complaint, Sareini alleged claims under the First, Eight, and Fourteenth Amendments. On December 30, 2008, Magistrate Judge Virginia M. Morgan issued a report recommending that Sareini's complaint be dismissed because he was seeking class certification but was not capable of adequately representing the class. ECF No. 13. The Court adopted the report and recommendation in part and granted Sareini leave to file an amended complaint. ECF No. 32. On May 27, 2009, Sareini filed an amended complaint which clarified that he was bringing claims under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc et seq., the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the First Amendment, and the Eighth Amendment. ECF No. 33. Specifically, Sareini was alleging that Defendants have violated his civil rights by refusing to hold a separate group religious service for Shia Muslim prisoners, denying Sareini meals which comply with his religious dietary needs, refusing to allow Sareini to possess certain items of religious significance, and denying Sareini the opportunity to celebrate religious holidays.

         Defendants subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 41. On December 21, 2009, Judge Morgan issued a report recommending that the motion for summary judgment be granted in part. ECF No. 43. Judge Morgan recommended that summary judgment for Defendants be entered on Plaintiff's group religious services and equal protection claims, but found that factual questions remained surrounding Sareini's request for meals which complied with his religious needs, his religious property claim, and his religious holidays claim. Because neither party objected to Judge Morgan's report and recommendation, the Court adopted it without independently reviewing the record. ECF No. 45.

         On December 23, 2010, Judge Morgan issued another report and recommendation. Judge Morgan recommended that Sareini's religious property claim should be dismissed because Sareini had not provided non-conclusory evidence that items were essential to the practice of his religion. However, Judge Morgan recommended that Sareini's religious diet, religious holiday, and equal protection claims not be dismissed.

         On March 31, 2011, the Court issued an order adopting in part Judge Morgan's report and recommendation. ECF No. 72. Specifically, the Court adopted Judge Morgan's recommendation that Sareini's religious property claim be dismissed. The Court reasoned that Sareini has not established that “he would be unable to adhere to his faith or that his faith would be significantly inhibited without these items.” Id. at 8. The Court concluded: “The exercise of Plaintiff's religion may be more difficult without the items, but he is not compelled to act contrary to his religious beliefs.” Id. The Court also dismissed Sareini's religious holiday claim and equal protection claim. Although the Court did not grant summary judgment on Sareini's religious diet claim, Sareini later settled that claim. See General Release from Liability, ECF No. 96, Ex. A; ECF No. 91.

         On June 17, 2016, over three years after the parties submitted a stipulated order dismissing the remaining claim and the case with prejudice, Sareini filed a motion for relief from the Court's previous orders dismissing his religious items and holidays claims. For the following reasons, Sareini's motion for relief will be denied.

         I.

         Sareini is requesting relief from a final judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). That rule allows the Court to “relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons:”

(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;
(2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b);
(3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party;
(4) the judgment is void;
(5) the judgment has been satisfied, released or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it ...

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