United States District Court, D. Minnesota
DAVID HAMILTON, MICHAEL D. PERSEKE, SHAWN JAMISON, and KAINE BRAUN, Plaintiffs,
NICK LAMMI; CHAD MESOJEDEC, Rehabilitation Therapist Director; RICHARD O'CONNOR, Interim Security Manager; CHRISTINE SELLS, Religious Services Volunteer; and SANDY BRYANT, Religious Services Volunteer, sued in their individual and official capacities, Defendants.
Hamilton, Michael D. Perseke, Shawn Jamison, and Kaine Braun,
plaintiffs, pro se.
Terry, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF
MINNESOTA, for defendants.
Patrick J. Schiltz United States District Judge
David Hamilton, Michael D. Perseke, Shawn Jamison, and Kaine
Braun are civil detainees in the Minnesota Sex Offender
Program (“MSOP”). Plaintiffs allege that they
practice Asatru, “a polytheistic religion that
originated in Northern Europe several centuries ago.”
Krieger v. Brown, 496 F. App'x 322, 323 (4th
Cir. 2012). Plaintiffs brought this civil-rights action
against several MSOP officials, alleging, in essence, that
those officials have unlawfully failed to accommodate
plaintiffs' practice of Asatru.
31, 2016, this Court accepted the recommendation of
Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois and dismissed most of
plaintiffs' claims for various substantive and procedural
reasons, leaving only plaintiffs' claim for injunctive
relief under § 3 of the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), 42
U.S.C. § 2000cc-1. ECF No. 19. Defendants then moved to
dismiss the RLUIPA claim. ECF No. 21. Plaintiffs filed
nothing in response to defendants' motion.
Brisbois recommends that defendants' motion be granted
and that plaintiffs' RLUIPA claim be dismissed for two
reasons. First, Judge Brisbois finds that plaintiffs have
failed to plausibly plead a violation of RLUIPA under
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). Second,
Judge Brisbois finds that some of the restrictions challenged
by plaintiffs are the least restrictive means of furthering a
compelling governmental interest, and thus lawful under
and Jamison filed an objection to the R&R, identifying
various reasons why they believe that Judge Brisbois's
analysis is mistaken. ECF No. 35. (Perseke and Jamison also
say that Braun joins in their objection, although he was
unable to sign it because he has been transferred to a
different facility. ECF No. 35 at 1-2.) For his part,
Hamilton filed a copy of Judge Brisbois's R&R, which
Hamilton apparently regards as an objection to that R&R.
ECF No. 30.
Court overrules plaintiffs' objections. As an initial
matter, plaintiffs filed nothing in opposition to
defendants' motion to dismiss. “A party cannot, in
his objections to an R&R, raise arguments that were not
clearly presented to the magistrate judge.” Hammann
v. 1-800 Ideas.com, Inc., 455 F.Supp.2d 942, 947-48 (D.
Minn. 2006) (citing Madol v. Dan Nelson Auto. Grp.,
372 F.3d 997, 1000 (8th Cir. 2004)); see also Ridenour v.
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharms., Inc., 679 F.3d 1062, 1067
(8th Cir. 2012) (“The district court properly refused
to consider Ridenour's argument that longer statute of
limitations periods applied to his claims because this
argument was not presented first to the magistrate
judge.”) Plaintiffs cannot bypass the referral process
by refusing to litigate in front of the magistrate judge and
instead presenting their arguments for the first time to the
the Court were to address the merits of plaintiffs'
arguments, the Court would overrule their objections and
adopt the R&R insofar as it recommends that the RLUIPA
claim be dismissed because it was inadequately pleaded. Under
Iqbal and Twombly, a plaintiff's claim
must include “enough facts to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 570. Here, plaintiffs' remaining claim is
asserted under § 3(a) of RLUIPA, which provides:
No government shall impose a substantial burden on the
religious exercise of a person residing in or confined to an
institution . . . even if the burden results from a rule of
general applicability, unless the government demonstrates
that imposition of the burden on that person-
(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest;
(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that
compelling governmental interest.
42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a). Thus, to adequately plead a
claim under RLUIPA, plaintiffs would have to plead sufficient
facts to make plausible their claim that defendants imposed a
substantial burden on plaintiffs' exercise of Asatru. The
burden would then shift to defendants to plead (and
eventually prove) their affirmative defense that any
substantial burden imposed on plaintiffs' religious
exercise was the least restrictive means available to further
a compelling governmental interest.
Court agrees with Judge Brisbois that plaintiffs have failed
to include enough facts in their complaint to allow the Court
to find that they have pleaded a plausible claim under
RLUIPA. Many of the alleged violations are described in an
entirely conclusory way. For example, plaintiffs allege that
defendants violated RLUIPA by “denial of proper
religious items” and by “denying them access to
religious literature . . . .” ECF No. 1 at ¶¶
10, 11. But the complaint does not identify what
“religious items” or “religious
literature” was requested, who made each request, to
whom each request was made, or when each request was made.
Nor does the complaint identify who rejected each request, or
to what extent, or when, or for what reason. And most
importantly, the complaint does not describe ...