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Adams v. Scott

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

March 1, 2017

AN'DRE ADAMS, et al. Plaintiff,
v.
GREGG SCOTT, et al. Defendants.

          SUMMARY JUDGMENT OPINION

          SUE E. MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Nine civilly committed plaintiffs filed this lawsuit alleging that officials at the Rushville Treatment and Detention Facility burdened the practice of their religious faith in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and the First Amendment. Only Plaintiffs Adams, Steen, and LaRue now remain as active litigants. The matter comes before this Court for ruling on the Defendants' respective Motions for Summary Judgment. (Docs. 53, 55). The motions are granted.

         PRELIMINARY MATTERS

         Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Compel Discovery (Doc. 59) and a Motion to Reopen Discovery (Doc. 62). Plaintiffs did not attach a copy of the disputed discovery to their motion to compel, nor did they file the motion within 14 days of the unsatisfactory response, as required by the Court's Scheduling Order. See (Doc. 33 at 8, ¶ 19). These failures notwithstanding, Plaintiffs allege in their motion that they did not send the interrogatories in question to Defendants until April 4, 2016, approximately 60 days after discovery closed. See Text Order entered December 11, 2015 (extending discovery deadline to February 8, 2016). Plaintiffs do not explain why these requests could not have been made sooner. Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel is denied.

         Plaintiffs' Motion to Re-Open Discovery (Doc. 62) asks the Court to reopen discovery to allow Plaintiffs an opportunity to tender and receive responses to the interrogatories cited in their motion to compel. For the same reasons stated above, Plaintiffs' motion (Doc. 62) is denied.

         Defendant Simpson filed a Motion to Strike (Doc. 67). Defendant Simpson alleges that an exhibit attached to Plaintiffs' motion to reopen discovery should have been filed separately because it is a response to a motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs reference this document in their motion to reopen discovery. See (Doc. 62 at 3, ¶ 17). Therefore, the Court sees no reason to strike the exhibit. Defendant's motion is denied.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment should be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). All facts must be construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in his favor. Ogden v. Atterholt, 606 F.3d 355, 358 (7th Cir. 2010). The party moving for summary judgment must show the lack of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In order to be a “genuine” issue, there must be more than “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). “Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         FACTS

         Plaintiffs are nondenominational Christians who identify “speaking the word” and assembly with other nondenominational believers, among other things, as central tenets of their faith. TDF officials do not appear to have ever offered a nondenominational Christian group service at the facility, but, prior to April 2013, residents were allowed to share their nondenominational beliefs at the Christian (Baptist) group service. Residents were also permitted to attend, without giving prior notice to TDF officials, as many group services per week as they were so inclined, including those of other faiths.

         In April 2013, the volunteer pastor in charge of the Christian service informed residents that he would assume all preaching duties at the group services. As a result, Plaintiffs were no longer allowed to share their views in front of the group. The basis for the pastor's decision, as stated in a letter sent to residents, cited concerns from TDF officials that group participation in the services had reached a point where such participation was “counterproductive [to] the goals of the therapy programs.” (Doc. 60-3 at 7). In addition, Plaintiff Adams testified at his deposition that other residents had filed grievances about nondenominational Christians speaking at the group services. Adams Dep. 35:21-36:2. Plaintiff Steen identified the prohibition on sharing his opinion at the services as the sole basis for his participation in this lawsuit. Steen Dep. 58:9-59:2.

         A couple months later, TDF officials changed the policy regarding attendance at group religious services as the lack of advance notice regarding the number of attendees at a given service caused overcrowding, staffing, and security issues. On or about July 24, 2013, Rushville officials distributed a memo to TDF residents that outlined the new policy as follows:

You may enroll in only one religious service at a time and enrollment is approved on a first-come, first-served basis until the service is at full capacity. If you wish to change to a different service, you must resubmit your Religious Group Enrollment form to the Religious Services Coordinator and upon receipt of an approved copy; you may attend the next available service. No more than one change may be submitted in any calendar year absent the approval of the Program Director. No bags or non-religious items may be brought to any religious service, only those materials pertaining to the service you are attending.

(Doc. 54-2 at 2). According to the memo, Rushville provided group religious services for the following faiths: Christian; Jehovah Witness; Mennonite; Jewish; Muslim; Zen Buddism; and Satanic. TDF officials approved the Plaintiffs' respective requests to attend the Christian service. (Doc. 60-1 at 21-23).

         Plaintiff Steen testified that he had no desire to attend services other than those held for his Christian faith. Steen Dep. 35:10-11 (“I've never had a desire to participate in another service.”). Plaintiff Adams and Plaintiff LaRue testified that the new policy prohibited them from attending multiple services, but that such attendance was not a requirement of their faith. LaRue Dep. 17:7-19:16 (could not attend both Christian and Mennonite services, but his faith requires only that he assemble with other nondenominational ...


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