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Daywitt v. Moser

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

September 13, 2019

Kenneth Daywitt and William De'Angelo Kinnard, Plaintiffs,
v.
Kevin Moser, Sue Johnson, Joanne Christenson, Lisa Kuklis, and Rhett Reed, in their individual and official capacities, Defendants.

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AS MODIFIED

          Wilhelmina M. Wright United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the June 5, 2019 Report and Recommendation (R&R) of United States Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois. (Dkt. 41.) The R&R recommends granting in part and denying in part Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' complaint. Plaintiffs and Defendants filed timely objections to the R&R. For the reasons addressed below, the Court overrules the parties' objections and adopts the R&R as modified.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Kenneth Daywitt and William De'Angelo Kinnard are civilly committed to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) in Moose Lake, Minnesota. Daywitt practices Judaism and “adher[es] to the dictates of his faith and eating kosher food.” Kinnard adheres to Rastafarianism, [1] which requires “a strict vegan diet.” Defendants are the director, program manager, kitchen supervisor, chief cook, and registered dietician at MSOP-Moose Lake, who have been sued in their official and individual capacities.

         In this civil rights action, Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as monetary damages, for Defendants' alleged violations of Plaintiffs' constitutional and statutory rights. These alleged violations pertain to MSOP's provision of kosher and vegan foods-namely the lack of variety, insufficient caloric content, and faulty preparation of the kosher and vegan foods that MSOP serves. Plaintiffs assert that Defendants' actions violate Plaintiffs' rights under the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), and the Civil Rights Act (federal-law claims), [2] and the Minnesota Constitution and Minnesota Rules 4665.2900 and 4665.3000 (state-law claims).

         The R&R recommends granting in part and denying in part Defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint. Specifically, the R&R recommends dismissing each of Plaintiffs' claims, except Daywitt's claims alleging that the insufficient caloric quantity in the kosher-food offerings prevents him from freely exercising his religion in violation of the Minnesota Constitution and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

         Plaintiffs and Defendants timely objected to the R&R, and each timely responded to the other's objections.[3]

         ANALYSIS

         The district court reviews de novo those portions of the R&R to which an objection is made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); LR 72.2(b)(3). In doing so, the district 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); accord Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3); LR 72.2(b)(3). As Plaintiffs are proceeding pro se, the Court liberally construes their complaint and objections. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).

         I. Plaintiffs' Objections to the R&R

         Plaintiffs assert five main objections to the R&R's recommendations, without specifically identifying any error in the R&R's analysis. Specifically, Plaintiffs object to the R&R's recommendations that the Court grant Defendants' motion to dismiss as to Plaintiffs' claims under (i) Minnesota Rules 4665.2900 and 4665.3000, (ii) the freedom-of-conscience clause of the Minnesota Constitution, (iii) the free-exercise-of-religion clause of the First Amendment, (iv) the substantive-due-process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and (v) the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The R&R concludes that each claim should be dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction or failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted.

         Although a district court reviews de novo those portions of an R&R to which objections are made, 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), de novo review is not required in the absence of specific objections to an R&R, see Montgomery v. Compass Airlines, LLC, 98 F.Supp.3d 1012, 1017 (D. Minn. 2015) (observing that objections to an R&R that “are not specific but merely repeat arguments presented to and considered by a magistrate judge are not entitled to de novo review”). Under such circumstances, the court's review is for clear error. Montgomery, 98 F.Supp.3d at 1017.

         Plaintiffs do not specifically object to the R&R's analysis of their claims. Instead, Plaintiffs merely repeat the arguments that they presented to the magistrate judge. Plaintiffs fail to identify any fact or legal authority that the R&R omits, overlooks, or mischaracterizes. Nor do Plaintiffs present any argument that challenges the conclusions of the R&R. Even when liberally construed, Plaintiffs' objections do not address the R&R's legal analysis. Consequently, the Court reviews these portions of the R&R for clear error.

         A finding or conclusion is “clearly erroneous” when the reviewing court “is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” Edeh v. Midland Credit Mgmt., Inc., 748 F.Supp.2d 1030, 1043 (D. Minn. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted). Having carefully reviewed the R&R and considered each of Plaintiffs' objections, the Court identifies no clear error in the magistrate judge's reasoning or recommended resolution of Plaintiffs' claims.

         Accordingly, the Court overrules Plaintiffs' objections.

         II. Defendants' Objections to the R&R

         Defendants object to the R&R's recommendation that this Court deny Defendants' motion to dismiss as to Daywitt's freedom-of-conscience and free-exercise-of-religion claims that are founded on the allegations that the kosher-food offerings lack sufficient calories to be nutritious. Defendants argue that the magistrate judge erred in finding that Daywitt has ...


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