United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
THE CHRISTIAN SEPARATIST CHURCH SOCIETY OF OHIO, THE WIFE OF CHRIST, PROSOPOPEIA, et al, Plaintiffs,
THE OHIO DEPARTMENT OF REHABILITATION AND CORRECTION, et al., Defendants. v.
Deavers, Magistrate Judge.
OPINION & ORDER
ALGENON L. MARBLEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court for consideration of the
Magistrate Judge's December 14, 2017 Report and
Recommendation (ECF No. 102) recommending that
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 82) be
denied and the Plaintiffs' claims for monetary damages be
dismissed. For the reasons stated herein, upon de novo review
in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B), this Court SUSTAINS Defendants' Objections
(ECF No. 104), REJECTS the Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendation (ECF No. 102), and hereby GRANTS
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 82).
are inmates at various state correctional facilities
throughout Ohio run by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation
and Correction ("ODRC"). (ECF No. 1 at 2-4).
Plaintiffs are members of the Christian Separatist Church
Society ("CSCS"), which is "a militantly
Christian, White Nationalist organization composed only of
white Christian men and women" who hold the view that
"true white Nationalism and Christianity are one in the
same philosophy." (Id.; ECF No. 104-1). The
CSCS faith thus encompasses the belief that the white race is
superior to other races and its members hold white separatist
views. (ECF No. 86-1 at ¶¶ 5-6).
policy on congregate worship requires Plaintiffs to worship
with the ODRC-recognized Protestant Christian organization.
Plaintiffs object to this policy because their faith is
fundamentally different from Protestantism (Id. at
¶¶ 30-44) and congregate worship with those of
their faith is a central tenant of their religion and
necessary to attain personal salvation (Id. at
¶¶ 10-11; ECF No. 86-2 at 4). Plaintiffs sought
Religious Accommodations under ODRC regulation 72-REG-02
seeking separate congregate worship services but ODRC denied
the requests. (ECF No. 47 at Ex. 331-350).
August 26, 2015, Plaintiffs filed this action against ODRC,
ODRC Director Gary C. Mohr, ODRC Religious Services
Administrator Michael Davis, and ODRC Chief Inspector Roger
Wilson. (ECF No. 1). Pursuant to an initial screen under 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915A, this Court dismissed: (1) all
§ 1983 claims against ODRC and Defendants in their
official capacity; (2) claims for violations of 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1981, 1985(3) and 1986; (3) claims for
violations of substantive Due Process and Equal Protection
under the Fourteenth Amendment; (3) all claims brought by
Plaintiff Damron; and (4) all claims brought by the Christian
Separatist Church. (ECF Nos. 4, 12). Therefore, the only
claims that remained after the initial screening were claims
brought by the individual Plaintiffs (minus Mr. Damron)
against Defendants Mohr, Davis, and Wilson for violations of
the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
("RLUIPA") and the First Amendment.
moved to dismiss the remaining claims on August 15, 2016.
(ECF No, 24). In response, this Court dismissed the First
Amendment claim but allowed the RLUIPA claim to continue.
(ECF Nos. 33, 42). Thus, the only claim at issue here is the
RLUIPA claim. On August 29, 2017, Defendants filed a Motion
for Summary Judgment, purporting to seek summary judgment in
their favor on both the RLUIPA claim and the First Amendment
claim. (ECF No. 82). Plaintiffs filed a Response in
Opposition on October 5, 2017 (ECF No. 86), and Defendants
filed their Reply on October 10, 2017 (ECF No. 87). On
December 14, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and
Recommendation recommending that the Summary Judgment Motion
be denied. (ECF No. 102).
Magistrate Judge first found that Plaintiffs met their prima
facie burden under RLUIPA of showing that prohibiting them
from congregate worship substantially burdens their exercise
of religion. (Id. at 9). Next, the Magistrate Judge
found that Defendants failed to show that their congregate
worship policy is the least restrictive means of furthering a
compelling government interest, as required by RLUIPA.
(Id. at 11). The Magistrate Judge noted that
Defendants incorrectly based their summary judgment argument
on the four-factor Turner reasonableness test that
applies to First Amendment cases, but this Court already
dismissed the First Amendment claims. (Id. at 10).
She found that while ODRC's policy may be justified under
the reasonable analysts, Defendants offered no evidence that
the policy is the least restrictive means necessary to
advance its compelling interest, and recommended denying
summary judgment. (Id.). Finally, me Magistrate
Judge recommended dismissing Plaintiffs' claims for money
damages against Defendants in their individual capacity.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
party objects within the allotted time to a report and
recommendation, the Court "shall make a de novo
determination of those portions of the report or specified
proposed findings or recommendations to which the objection
is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also
Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). Upon review, the Court "may
accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings
or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). A party's objections "must
be clear enough to enable the district court to discern those
issues that are dispositive and contentious." Miller
v. Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 380 (6th Cir. 1995) (citation
moved to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides, in relevant
part, that summary judgment is appropriate "if the
movant shows that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law." A fact is deemed material only if it
"might affect the outcome of the lawsuit under the
governing substantive law." Wiley v. United
States,20 F.3d 222, 224 (6th Cir. 1994) (citing
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986)). The nonmoving party must then present
"significant probative evidence" to show that
"there is [more than] some metaphysical doubt as to the
material facts." Moore v. Philip Morris
Cos., Inc.,8 F.3d 335, 340 (6tii Cir. 1993). The mere
possibility of a factual dispute is insufficient to defeat a
motion for summary judgment. See Mitchell v. Toledo
Hospital,964 F.2d 577, 582 (6th Cir. 1992). Summary
judgment is ...