Brooks v. Williams et al
ORDER DISMISSING CASE without prejudice as duplicative of Case No. 16-966. Signed by Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel on 9/13/2017. (tjk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
MICHAEL WILLIAMS and
Case No. 17 cv–0515 NJR
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
ROSENSTENGEL, District Judge:
The Court previously ordered Plaintiff to show cause why this case should not be
dismissed as duplicative of Case No. 16-cv-966-MJR-SCW (“16-966”). (Doc. 7). Plaintiff was
directed to show cause no later than September 5, 2017. (Doc. 7). Plaintiff has not filed anything
since that time.
As pointed out in the prior Order, Plaintiff alleges that his rights under the Free Exercise
Clause of the First Amendment, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, the Equal
Protection Clause of the Eighth Amendment, and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
Persons Act (“RLUIPA”) have been violated by the Defendants’ refusal to permit him to
celebrate the Rastafari Sabbath on Fridays and Saturdays. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff seeks
injunctive relief and monetary damages. Id.
In comparison, the Screening Order in 16-966 specifically allowed a claim to proceed
that Plaintiff was denied access to Rastafari Sabbath Service in violation of the Free Exercise
Clause of the First Amendment and RLUIPA. (16-966, Doc. 5, p. 3). That order also found that
Plaintiff had stated claims pursuant to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the
Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, theories also raised in this case. (16-966,
Doc. 5, pp. 6-7).
Federal courts may dismiss a suit “for reasons of wise judicial administration whenever it
is duplicative of a parallel action already pending in . . . federal court.” Serlin v. Arthur Andersen
& Co., 3 F.3d 221, 223 (7th Cir. 1993) (quoting Colorado River Water Conservation District v.
United States, 424 U.S. 800, 817 (1976)). The determination is discretionary, and district courts
are given latitude to exercise that discretion, but generally, a suit will be considered duplicative if
the claims, parties, and relief requested do not significantly vary between the actions.
McReynolds v. Merrill Lynch Co. Inc., 694 F.3d 873, 888-89 (7th Cir. 2012).
As the Court previously noted, this suit is almost an exact duplicate of Plaintiff’s earlier
suit. Case No. 16-966 brings claims against Michael Williams, the Chaplain of Shawnee and the
Warden; this suit names Chaplain Williams and Jeffrey Dennison, the current Warden of
Shawnee. The parties are identical between the suits. Additionally, Plaintiff has raised identical
claims in this suit regarding his right to celebrate the Rastafarian Sabbath on Fridays and
Saturdays pursuant to the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and RLUIPA. The only difference
the Court can find is that Plaintiff did not request monetary damages in Case No. 16-966, but that
is easily cured by amendment, and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(c) specifically authorizes
a court to “grant the relief to which each party is entitled, even if the party has not demanded that
relief in its pleadings.” As Plaintiff has not contested the Court’s prior discussion of the
similarities between the lawsuits or provided any other reason why this case should not be
dismissed, the Court will dismiss this suit without prejudice as duplicative of Case No. 16-966.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this action is DISMISSED without prejudice as
duplicative of Case No. 16-966. Judgment will enter, and the Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to
close the case.
If Plaintiff wishes to appeal this dismissal, his notice of appeal must be filed with this
Court within thirty days of the entry of judgment. FED. R. APP. P. 4(a)(1)(A). A motion for leave
to appeal in forma pauperis should set forth the issues Plaintiff plans to present on appeal. See
FED. R. APP. P. 24(a)(1)(C). If Plaintiff does choose to appeal, he will be liable for the $505.00
appellate filing fee irrespective of the outcome of the appeal. See FED. R. APP. P. 3(e); 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2); Ammons v. Gerlinger, 547 F.3d 724, 725-26 (7th Cir. 2008); Sloan v. Lesza, 181
F.3d 857, 858-59 (7th Cir. 1999); Lucien v. Jockisch, 133 F.3d 464, 467 (7th Cir. 1998).
Moreover, if the appeal is found to be nonmeritorious, Plaintiff may also incur another “strike.”
A proper and timely motion filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) may toll the
30-day appeal deadline. FED. R. APP. P. 4(a)(4). A Rule 59(e) motion must be filed no more than
twenty-eight (28) days after the entry of the judgment, and this 28-day deadline cannot be
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: September 13, 2017
NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL
United States District Judge
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