Sixth Circuit Notes Split Re Whether RLUIPA Authorizes Suits for Damages against State Officials in Individual Capacity

Per Heard v. Caruso, Slip Copy, 2009 WL 2628293 (6th Cir. Aug. 27, 2009):

With respect to Heard's RLUIPA [Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act] claim against defendants in their official capacities, Heard may seek only declaratory or injunctive relief and not monetary relief. See Cardinal v. Metrish, 564 F.3d 794, 798-801 (6th Cir.2009) (holding that the doctrine of sovereign immunity bars the recovery of monetary damages under RLUIPA when state officials are sued in their official capacities). This court has not ruled, however, on whether RLUIPA authorizes suits for monetary damages against state officials in their individual capacities. See Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 885-89 (7th Cir.2009) (discussing split of authority on issue; holding that RLUIPA does not subject state officials to suit in their individual capacities). Because the parties have not briefed this issue and because we are remanding to the district court for further consideration of whether a Nation-of-Islam diet meets MDOC nutritional standards, we decline to decide this issue at this time.


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