Tuesday, July 16, 2019

6th Circuit Affirms Jury's Damage Award To Muslim Inmates

In Heard v. Finco,(6th Cir., July 15, 2019), the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a jury's damage  award totaling $900 to four Nation of Islam inmates whose religious exercise rights were infringed when prison officials reduced the amount of calories they were served in their Ramadan meals. The inmates argued, however, that they suffered spiritual damage in excess of this amount because their hunger made it difficult for them to focus on prayer and Quran readings. The court said:
Here, the jury heard the inmates’ testimony and saw their medical records. The inmates also had two experts—a nutritionist and an Islamic studies scholar—testify about the harms (both physical and spiritual) that the inmates suffered. The jury weighed all this evidence and concluded that each inmate suffered $150 worth of harm for each Ramadan the prison officials disrupted. The district court had no good reason to second-guess this determination, and neither do we.
[Thanks to Tom Rutledge for the lead.]