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Dupree v. Laster

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS


May 1, 2008

CEDRIC DUPREE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
EARLY LASTER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge

ORDER

During the Final Pretrial Conference, held on November 15, 2007 (see Doc. 209), it became apparent that the parties could not agree upon the remaining issues of law in this case. The following are the proposed issues of law raised by the parties, followed by the Court's findings (in italics):

1. Whether there is an on-going violation of the Plaintiff's rights which would entitle him to injunctive relief.

This was the only issue of law to which the parties agreed.

2. Whether Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity.

Relying on Koger v. Bryan, No. 05-1904, 2008 WL 1821311 at *8 (7th Cir. Apr. 24, 2008), the Court finds there is no feasible way that the doctrine of qualified immunity operates to shield Defendants from liability in this case.

3. Whether RLUIPA allows for monetary damages.

The Court finds that because Plaintiff makes no prior showing of physical injury, he is only entitled to nominal damages and injunctive relief, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e). The Court bases its finding on Koger,2008 WL 1821311 at *10 (7th Cir. Apr. 24, 2008) (citing Smith v. Allen, 502 F.3d 1255, 1271 (11th Cir. 2007)(holding that the PLRA limits the availability of compensatory and punitive damages under RLUIPA, but leaves open the availability of nominal damages).

4. Whether individual defendants may be liable under RLUIPA, based on their employer's acceptance of federal funds.

Although the Court, in its previous Order (Doc. 206), relied upon the holding of Agrawal v. Briley, No. 02-c-6807, 2006 WL 3523750 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 6, 2006) to find that Defendants could be held liable in their individual capacities, the more recent case of Smith v. Allen, 502 F.3d 1255 (11th Cir. 2007) holds otherwise. Thus, the Court now adopts the rationale of Smith and finds that Defendants cannot be held liable in their individual capacities.

5. Whether the Defendants violated any duty to the Plaintiff created by RLUIPA.

The Court previously found questions of material fact remain to be heard by the trier of fact. Koger clearly establishes the burdens on each of the parties in this regard.

6. Whether Defendants violated the Plaintiff's First Amendment rights.

The Court previously found questions of material fact remain to be heard by the trier of fact. Precedential case law clearly establishes the burdens on each of the parties in this regard.

In sum, the only remaining issue of law is whether there is an on-going violation of Plaintiff's rights which would entitle him to injunctive relief.

This Order will also address Plaintiff's request for the Court to make a ruling to deny defendant Jethroe's affirmative defenses (Doc. 214). These affirmative defenses were included as part of Jethroe's Answer (Doc. 213). She plead three affirmative defenses: (1) she is shielded from liability by the doctrine of qualified immunity; (2) Plaintiff cannot bring a federal civil suit without a prior showing of physical injury, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e) ("PLRA"); and (3) Plaintiff's claims against her are barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The Court has already found that qualified immunity does not operate to shield Defendants from liability, and therefore, Jethroe's first affirmative defense is denied. Further, the Court has also found that Plaintiff has not made a prior showing of physical injury and therefore, he may only seek nominal damages and injunctive relief under the PLRA. Thus, her second affirmative defense is denied.

However, the Court finds Jethroe's third affirmative defense has merit. Plaintiff's RLUIPA and § 1983 claims against defendant Jethroe are plead in Count X of his First Amended Complaint (Doc. 85, ¶¶ 1-15; 114-123). The events giving rise to these claims occurred while Plaintiff was incarcerated at SWICC between April 28, 1999 through September 15, 1999. These events predate the September 22, 2000 effective date of RLUIPA, which is not retroactive. As such, there simply is no valid cause of action under this statute. There is a two-year statute of limitations applicable to Plaintiff's § 1983 claims. Plaintiff plead a § 1983 claim against Jethroe in his initial Complaint, filed on October 7, 2002, thereby exceeding the limitations period. Moreover, there are no allegations which would support the administrative tolling exception. Therefore, Plaintiff's § 1983 claims against Jethroe are time- barred. Accordingly, the Court finds all of Plaintiff's claims, as stated in Count X of his First Amended Complaint, must be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. No claims remain against Jethroe.*fn1

IT IS SO ORDERED.

DavidRHerndon Chief Judge United States District Court


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