United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
RONALD L. DAVIS, Plaintiff,
DANIEL H. HEYNS, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
T. NEFF United States District Judge
a prisoner civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 involving Plaintiff's Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), First Amendment,
Equal Protection Clause, and various state law claims
alleging failure by Defendants to accede to his religious
dietary requests while incarcerated (Dkt 1). Defendants filed
a motion for summary judgment (Dkt 50). The matter was
referred to the Magistrate Judge, who issued a Report and
Recommendation (R&R), recommending Defendants' motion
be granted (Dkt 56). The matter is presently before the Court
on Plaintiff's objections to the Report and
Recommendation (Dkt 57). In accordance with 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3), the Court has performed
de novo consideration of those portions of the Report and
Recommendation to which objections have been made. The Court
denies the objections and issues this Opinion and Order.
presents fifteen objections to the Magistrate Judge's
Report and Recommendation. The Court will consider each of
Plaintiff's objections, in turn, and in the order and
format presented by Plaintiff.
argues that the Magistrate Judge's RLUIPA conclusion is
contrary to law (Pl. Obj., Dkt 57 at PageID.536).
Plaintiff's basis for this argument is that
Defendants' “evidence and/or facts . . . should not
have been given more weight then [sic] the
Plaintiffs [sic] verified complaint inwhich
[sic] according to Federal Rules and Civil
Procedures Rule 8(b)(6) should be considered as undisputed
facts because the Defendants never denied any of the
allegations with in [sic] the complaint”
objection fails because the premise is inaccurate. According
to 42 U.S.C. § 1997(e), “any defendant may waive
the right to reply to any action brought by a prisoner
confined in jail, prison, or other correctional facility,
” and “such waiver shall not constitute an
admission of the allegations contained in the complaint under
section 1983 of this title or any other Federal law.”
42 U.S.C. § 1997(e)(g)(1). A court may require a
defendant to reply to a complaint. 42 U.S.C. §
1997(e)(g)(2). However, the Magistrate Judge did not require
Defendants to file a response to Plaintiff's complaint in
this case (Dkt 15 at PageID.130). Defendants waived the right
to reply to Plaintiff's complaint when replies were not
filed by Defendants. Under 42 U.S.C. § 1997(e)(g)(1),
Defendants' waiver is not deemed an admission of
Plaintiff's allegations within the complaint. Therefore,
the Magistrate Judge's analysis was not contrary to law
when she considered both Defendants' and Plaintiff's
evidence and facts. Plaintiff's objection is denied.
Plaintiff argues that the Magistrate Judge erred when she did
not “accept Plaintiff's undisputed allegations
that he is commanded by Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
to eat meat and that if he does not adhere to this command
that it takes him out of the fold of Islam for being
disobedient” (Pl. Obj., Dkt 57 at PageID.538).
Plaintiff's basis for this argument is again, that
Defendants failed to file a response to Plaintiff's
complaint and affidavit and that Defendants therefore
admitted Plaintiff's allegations contained therein
second objection fails for the same reasons stated
supra. Plaintiff's objection is denied.
argues that the Magistrate Judge erred when she determined
that a Halal meal does not require specific menu items of
Plaintiff's choice (Pl. Obj., Dkt 57 at PageID.539).
Plaintiff's basis for this argument is that the
Magistrate Judge relied on case law instead of
Plaintiff's complaint, affidavit, and deposition
objection fails because the premise is inaccurate.
Plaintiff's complaint (Dkt 1), affidavit (Dkt 52), and
deposition (Dkt 51-3) are largely based on interpretations of
the Quran. The United States Supreme Court has held that
“courts are not arbiters of scriptural
interpretation.” Thomas v. Rev. Bd. of Indiana
Empl. Sec. Div., 450 U.S. 707, 716 (1981). Judicial
review considers “the facts as found and conclusions
are drawn.” Id. The Magistrate Judge
determined that Defendants offered Plaintiff a vegan meal
option (Dkt 56 at PageID.528). The Magistrate Judge concluded
that Defendants' vegan meal option is, in fact, Halal,
even though it does not contain Plaintiff's specific menu
items (id.). The Magistrate Judge's conclusions
are based on law (Dkt 56 at PageID.528). The Sixth Circuit
has “explicitly held that vegetarian meals are, in
fact, Halal.” Robinson v. Jackson, 615 F.
App'x 310, 313 (6th Cir., June 15, 2015). Additionally,
the Sixth Circuit also determined that if a prisoner
“is not being denied Halal meals, ” then the
prisoner “fails to state a claim as a matter of law
under RLUIPA.” Id. at 314. Therefore,
Plaintiff has not demonstrated any error in the Magistrate
Judge's legal analysis or conclusion. Plaintiff's
objection is denied.
argues that the Magistrate Judge erred when she concluded
that Defendants' decision “to accommodate the
religious dietary needs of thousands of prisoners by
providing a vegan menu option satisfies RLUIPA” (Pl.
Obj., Dkt 57 at PageID.539-540). Plaintiff's basis for
this argument is that “Defendants have not presented
this argument nor is it supported by any evidence on
[sic]the recorded [sic]”
(id. at PageID.539).
objection fails because the premise is inaccurate. In
Defendants' brief in support of their motion for summary
judgment, Defendants stated that the “MDOC provides
Davis with nutritionally sound meals that do not require him
to eat food that is haram” (Def. Br., Dkt 51 at
PageID.433). Defendants also stated that the “MDOC
provides Davis with a meal that does not violate the tenants
[sic] of his religion” (id. at PageID.435).
Finally, Defendants stated that the MDOC's
“religious meal is not a substantial burden on
Davis' religion” (id. at PageID.433).
Defendants cite 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(2), which provides
that “the court shall give substantial weight to any
adverse impact on public safety or the operation of a
criminal justice system . . . ” (id. at
PageID.435). Defendants identified the “increased costs
associated with providing Halal meat system-wide, ”
which would force the MDOC “to expend incredibly scarce
resources to provide meals” with Halal meat (Def. Br.,
Dkt 51 at PageID.435). The Magistrate Judge considered the
record before granting summary judgment on Plaintiff's
RLUIPA claims. Defendants' argument was preserved for
review, and Plaintiff has not demonstrated any error in the
Magistrate Judge's analysis. Plaintiff's objection is