United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
JOHNNY D. ORUM, #417988, Plaintiff,
MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
J. QUIST UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Johnny Orum, a prisoner incarcerated with the Michigan
Department of Corrections (MDOC), filed a complaint against
several MDOC employees alleging claims under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Following an initial screening opinion and a series of
motions for summary judgment, Plaintiff's remaining
claims are: (1) his Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
Persons Act (RLUIPA) claim against Defendants Leach, Woods,
Rink, Derry, Metro, Osborn, and Bergeron; and (2) his First
Amendment retaliation claim against Defendants Osborn,
Bergeron, and Perry.
February 20, 2019, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss or,
in the alternative, motion to stay (ECF No. 162), arguing
that the Court should either dismiss or stay Orum's
claims in light of Ackerman v. Washington, No.
4:13-cv-14137 (E.D. Mich.), a prisoner class action lawsuit
pending in the Eastern District of Michigan. Defendants
argued that Orum is a member of the class certified in
Ackerman, and at least one of the issues for trial
in Ackerman overlaps with Orum's RLUIPA claim.
On June 12, 2019, Magistrate Judge Maarten Vermaat issued a
Report and Recommendation (R & R) (ECF No. 180)
recommending that the Court deny Defendants' motion with
regard to their request for dismissal, but grant the
alternative portion of their motion seeking a stay of the
instant case pending a resolution of the Ackerman
case. (Id. at PageID.1283-84.) In particular, the
magistrate judge found that dismissal would not be
appropriate because Ackerman would not resolve
Orum's First Amendment retaliation claim but that staying
this case is appropriate because Ackerman will
directly affect Orum's RLUIPA claim.
has filed an objection to the R & R, arguing that the
Court should not stay his case. (ECF No. 183.) Defendants
have responded to Orum's objection, arguing that Orum
fails to identify an error in the magistrate judge's
recommendation. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b), upon
receiving an objection to a report and recommendation, the
district judge “shall make a de novo determination of
those portions of the report or specified proposed findings
or recommendations to which objection is made.” After
conducting a de novo review of the R & R, Orum's
objection, Defendants' response, and the pertinent
portions of the record, the Court concludes that the R &
R should be adopted.
first argues that staying the instant case will violate his
rights under RLUIPA because a stay will subject him to a
system of religious beliefs that are not consistent with his
own beliefs. Orum fails to explain why this is so. The class
certified in Ackerman includes all Jewish prisoners
in the MDOC who receive Kosher meals. And, one of the issues
is whether the MDOC's standard vegan religious meals
comply with Kosher requirements. Ackerman v.
Washington, No. 4:13-cv-14137, ECF No. 181 at
PageID.1974. Given that Orum is Jewish and argues herein that
vegan meals violate his sincerely held religious belief that
he must eat Kosher fish or meat on the Sabbath and meat on
Jewish holidays, a decision in Ackerman will
directly address Orum's RLUIPA claim in this case.
Because Orum is a member of the Ackerman class,
staying the instant case will not violate RLUIPA.
Orum argues that “if anything the Ackerman case should
be stayed pending the outcome of the plaintiff's
case.” (ECF No. 181 at PageID.1286.) Orum argues that
this is so because the RLUIPA claims in Ackerman
were just reinstated in September 2018, and because Orum is
the only Plaintiff in the instant case, it would be more
efficient in terms of costs and time to proceed with the
instant case. Orum's argument lacks merit for several
reasons. First, this Court has no authority to stay the
Ackerman case. Second, from an efficiency
standpoint, it makes more sense to allow Ackerman-a
class action-to proceed because it will resolve the claims of
a class of individuals. Orum's lawsuit will not do so.
Finally, the Court notes that Ackerman is set for a
bench trial on September 3, 2019, and may well be decided
before October 21, 2019-the current trial date in this case.
Accordingly, the magistrate judge did not err in recommending
that the instant case be stayed pending a decision in
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the June12, 2019,
Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 180) is APPROVED
AND ADOPTED as the Opinion of the Court.
Plaintiff's Objection (ECF No. 181) is
IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss or, in the Alternative, to Stay the Case (ECF No.
162) is DENIED with regard to the request
for dismissal and GRANTED with regard to the
request to stay. ...