United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Maikijah Ha'Keem, Roy Hughes, Jimmy Booker, and Jacquard Larkin, Plaintiffs,
Chad Mesojedec, Rehabilitation Therapist Director, Steve Sayovitz, Security Manager, Elizabeth Wyatt, Security Counselor, Kevin Schleret, Property Personnel, Many Torgerson, Property Supervisor, Kevin Moser, MSOP-Moose Lake Facility Director, Nick Lammi, Rehabilitation Counselor, Scott Benoit, Program Manager-MSOP-Moose Lake, Terry Kneisel, Assistant Facility Director-MSOP-Moose Lake, and Peter Puffer, Clinical Director MSOP-Moose Lake, Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
E. Rau United States Magistrate Judge
above-captioned case comes before the undersigned on
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Amended
Complaint. (ECF No. 37). This matter was referred for the
resolution of pretrial matters pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636 and District of Minnesota Local Rule 72.1. For the
reasons stated below, this Court recommends granting
Defendants' motion and dismissing this case.
Maikijah Ha'Keem, Roy Hughes, Jimmy Booker, and Jacquard
Larkin- who are Muslims civilly committed in the Minnesota
Sex Offender Program (“MSOP”) in Moose Lake,
Minnesota-initiated this lawsuit on February 10, 2016.
(Compl., ECF No. 1). Plaintiffs asserted that Defendants, who
are employees of MSOP, deprived them of their constitutional
rights under the First Amendment; violated the Religious Land
Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000
(“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C. §§
2000cc-2000cc-5; and violated the Religious Freedom
Restoration Act of 1993 (“RFRA”), 42 U.S.C.
§§ 2000bb-2000bb-4. Defendants moved to dismiss the
complaint on various grounds, including failure to state a
claim, lack of subject matter jurisdiction over certain
claims, pleading deficiencies, and qualified immunity. In
response, Plaintiffs expressed a desire to amend their
complaint to cure the deficiencies identified by Defendants
in their motion to dismiss. The Court permitted Plaintiffs to
file an amended complaint and denied Defendants' motion
to dismiss without prejudice. (ECF Nos. 34, 35).
filed their amended complaint on March 8, 2017. (Am. Compl.,
ECF No. 36). Defendants moved to dismiss and the
parties briefed the motion. This case was then stayed as it
was deemed sufficiently related to the ongoing litigation of
Karsjens, et al. v. Piper, et al., Case No.
11-cv-3659 (DWF/TNL). (ECF No. 49). The stay was eventually
lifted, (ECF No. 50), and this Court permitted the parties an
opportunity to file supplemental briefing addressing any
changes in law that may affect the Court's analysis of
the already-submitted motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 51). The
parties have submitted their supplemental briefs and the
motion is ripe for determination. (ECF Nos. 52,
Prayer Oils and Prayer Spaces
noted above, Plaintiffs are Muslims civilly committed to the
MSOP in Moose Lake, Minnesota. (Am. Compl. ¶ 1).
Plaintiffs allege that it is common practice for Muslims to
apply scented oil before praying. (Am. Compl. ¶ 22
n.10). Until the fall of 2015, Plaintiffs were permitted to
obtain prayer oils from outside vendors with prior written
permission from the MSOP's religious services volunteer
and a supervisor. (Am. Compl. ¶ 22 n.10). The
supervisor, Chad Mesojedec, who also serves as the MSOP's
rehabilitation therapist director, curtailed the practice
because prayer oils had a strong scent and could mask
contraband. (Am. Compl. ¶ 22 n.10).
October 15, 2015, Ha'Keem submitted a client request to
Mesojedec asking to meet with four MSOP staff members,
including Mesojedec and Kevin Moser, MSOP facility director,
regarding his concerns about prayer oils, prayer times and
locations, and “of controlling one[']s right to
practice their/his faith under the Federal Religious
Act.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 11). Mesojedec responded on
October 21, 2015 indicating prayer oils would be
“dispensed in a manner so as to not overwhelm peers
utilizing the Volunteer Services/Education area.” (Am.
Compl. ¶ 11). Mesojedec further noted he was not
controlling individual prayer times, but was providing Muslim
and Jewish clients options. (Am. Compl. ¶ 11). Mesojedec
stated he and another MSOP staff member would meet with
Ha'Keem as their scheduled permitted. (Am. Compl. ¶
October 23, 2015, Ha'Keem submitted a client request to
Scott Benoit, MSOP program manager, voicing concerns that
Mesojedec did not understand his religious concerns, was
trying to control prayer oils used by Muslims, and failed to
accommodate their needs for five daily prayer sessions. (Am.
Compl. ¶ 10). Benoit responded on November 2, 2015
noting that Ha'Keem's concern was outside his
department of supervision, directing him to another MSOP
staff member. (Am. Compl. ¶ 10).
November 28, 2015, Ha'Keem submitted a client request to
Troy Basaraba, MSOP security program manager, asking why
Muslims cannot use or have prayer oil on their person or in
their rooms or put it on before they enter Friday prayers.
(Am. Compl. ¶ 13). Basaraba responded on December 9,
2015, stating that personal prayer oils were not allowed.
(Am. Compl. ¶ 13).
sent a client request on December 13, 2015 to Ann Linkert,
MSOP security director, asserting that Muslim prayer oils
used for Friday Jumah services were not a security concern
and were part of Muslim religious practices. (Am. Compl.
¶ 12). Similarly, on December 19, 2015, Ha'Keem sent
a client request to Moser, asking why prayer oils were
considered a security threat and why personal prayer oils
were prohibited. (Am. Compl. ¶ 14). Moser responded on
December 22, 2015, directing Ha'Keem to the appropriate
MSOP unit where he could request a policy change. (Am. Compl.
November 4, 2015, Ha'Keem submitted a client request to
Terry Kneisel, MSOP assistant facility director, asserting
that Mesojedec was “trying to stop Muslims from praying
in the ‘Religious Area' and ‘controlling our
oils [and] stopping Muslims from using them, ” as well
as making Muslims pray in rooms that have restrooms. (Am.
Compl. ¶ 18). Kneisel responded on November 23,
directing Ha'Keem to the proper chain of command. (Am.
Compl. ¶ 18).
November 16, 2015, Mesojedec posted a memorandum titled
“Client Use of Spiritual Rooms for Required Daily
Personal Prayer” (the “Memo”). (Am. Compl.
¶ 19). Among other requirements, the Memo states
“[p]rayer oil will not be provided for personal
prayer.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 19).
November 20, 2015, Ha'Keem submitted a client request to
Mesojedec, writing as the Islamic group liaison, indicating
that Muslims would “stop attending their faith for
now” until Mesojedec stopped placing restrictions on
the practice of their faith. (Am. Compl. ¶ 20).
Ha'Keem requested the ability to use personal prayer oils
and for only Muslims to control these oils. (Am. Compl.
¶ 20). Mesjoedec responded on December 2, 2015,
indicating the issue would be reviewed at the next Spiritual
Practices Advisory Committee. (Am. Compl. ¶ 20).
November 25, 2015, Ha'Keem submitted a client request to
Peter Puffer, MSOP clinical director, asserting that
Mesojedec was violating the “Federal Religious
Act” by controlling his faith. (Am. Compl. ¶ 21).
Puffer responded on December 12, 2015, noting the issue had
been subject to a grievance and was dismissed, with current
MSOP Policy #420-5310H1 guiding the possession of oils. (Am.
Compl. ¶ 21).
November 26, 2015, Mashood Yunus, the Islamic Outside
Resource for MSOP Muslims, indicated MSOP was withholding
prayer oils, dispensing “them a drop or two at a
time.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 34). Yunus claims Mesojedec
was rationing prayer oils. (Am. Compl. ¶ 34).
Ha'Keem followed-up with client request on November 29,
2015 concerning the Ihamma use of prayer oils. (Am. Compl.
¶ 33). Bryant responded that no changes in the way oils
are dispensed will be made. (Am. Compl. ¶ 33).
on the foregoing, Plaintiffs allege Defendants have violated
their constitutional rights to the free practice of religion
under the First Amendment. Plaintiffs assert the
Defendants' actions are not reasonably related to
legitimate, therapeutic, bona fide, or penological interests.
(Am. Compl. ¶¶ 24-25).
Cross-Gender Pat Searches
December 2015, Hughes was working in the MSOP kitchen. (Am.
Compl. ¶ 29). As Hughes was exiting his work assignment
in the kitchen, a female staff member wanted to wand Hughes
and pat search him. (Am. Compl. ¶ 29). Hughes informed
her that it was against his religion to have a female staff
member pat search him. (Am. Compl. ¶ 29). Hughes also
stated he believed it was not an emergency situation that
would permit a female-performed pat search. (Am. Compl.
March 28, 2016, Ha'Keem submitted a client request to
Scott Sutton, MSOP health services director, regarding pat
searches by female staff. (Am. Compl. ¶ 17 n.9). Sutton
noted health services does not do pat searches, but that in
emergency medical situations the staff on duty will handle
the medical issue regardless of gender. (Am. Compl. ¶ 17
n.9). Sutton indicated he did not have the staffing resources
to ensure a particular gender was on duty at all times. (Am.
Compl. ¶ 17 n.9). Sutton encouraged Ha'Keem to speak
with his volunteer spiritual advisor. (Am. Compl. ¶ 17
10, 2016, Ha'Keem submitted a client request to Sara
Kulas, MSOP unit director, expressing his concern that female
MSOP staff conduct pat downs of Muslim men. (Am. Compl.
¶ 15). Kulas responded on May 12, 2016, noting she
understood a female pat search is a conflict with
Ha'Keem's Muslim beliefs, but that a male cannot
always be guaranteed available for a pat search. (Am. Compl.
15, 2016, Ha'Keem submitted a client request to Benoit,
noting it was forbidden for Muslims to permit a female staff
member to perform any type of pat search and also forbidden
for male staff members to perform a pat search if they
touched private parts. (Am. Compl. ¶ 16). Benoit
responded two days later, noting that the MSOP respects
clients' religious beliefs, but that Kulas's May 12,
2016 response was accurate. (Am. Compl. ¶ 16).
26, 2015, Ha'Keem submitted a client request to Moser
again raising concerns related to female pat searches of
Muslim clients. (Am. Compl. ¶ 17). Moser responded the
following day, stating that he understood the issue to be
under current litigation and noting he previously requested