United States District Court, D. Kansas
ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF KANSAS CITY IN KANSAS and ST. ROSE PHILIPPINE DUCHESNE CATHOLIC CHURCH, Plaintiffs,
CITY OF MISSION WOODS, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
D. Crabtree, United States District Judge.
matter comes before the court on the motion of plaintiffs
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas
(“the Archdiocese”) and St. Rose Philippine
Duchesne Catholic Church (“St. Rose Church”) for
a permanent injunction (Doc. 87). Defendant City of Mission
Woods has filed a Response (Doc. 91). And plaintiffs have
filed a Reply (Doc. 95). The court grants plaintiffs'
motion for the reasons explained, below.
Rose Church began holding religious services in Mission Woods
in 2013. As the congregation grew, plaintiffs looked to
expand. In 2015, plaintiffs acquired a single-family house
next to the church's property. Plaintiffs planned to
renovate the house, converting it into a meeting house. So,
in February 2016, plaintiffs submitted a land use
request-i.e., their renovation plan-to
defendant's City Plan Commission. The Commission denied
plaintiffs' land use request, citing local zoning laws as
defendant denied the request, plaintiffs sued, bringing
claims under the Substantial Burden, Equal Terms,
Nondiscrimination, and Unreasonable Limitations provisions of
the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
(“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc-
2000cc-5; the First Amendment through 42 U.S.C. § 1983;
Section 7 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights; and the
Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act. Doc. 1 at
November 2018, the case went to trial. The jury returned a
verdict for plaintiffs on their RLUIPA Equal Terms claim,
concluding that Pembroke Hill School (“Pembroke”)
was similarly situated to plaintiffs in its land use request
and that defendant had treated Pembroke more favorably than
plaintiffs. Doc. 86 at 1. The jury awarded plaintiffs
$10, 000 in damages. Id. at 6. But, the jury found
for defendant on the rest of plaintiffs'
claims-i.e., RLUIPA Substantial Burden and
Nondiscrimination claims; First Amendment claims; and Kansas
state law claims. Id. at 1-6.
trial, plaintiffs filed a Motion for Permanent Injunction
(Doc. 87). It asks the court to issue an injunction requiring
defendant to approve plaintiffs' 2016 land use
application. Approving this land use application would permit
plaintiffs to renovate the single-family house into a meeting
court may enter a permanent injunction if the moving party
proves “(1) actual success on the merits; (2)
irreparable harm unless the injunction is issued; (3) the
threatened injury outweighs the harm that the injunction may
cause the opposing party; and (4) the injunction, if issued,
will not adversely affect the public interest.”
Fisher v. Okla. Health Care Auth., 335 F.3d 1175,
1180 (10th Cir. 2003); Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation v.
Wagnon, 476 F.3d 818, 822 (10th Cir. 2007). In
fashioning a permanent injunction, the court must tailor the
remedy narrowly to conform to the harm shown. Garrison v.
Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations, Inc., 287 F.3d 955,
962 (10th Cir. 2002).
court applies these four requirements in the
“Discussion” portion of this order, which
Success on the Merits
have achieved an actual success on the merits: At trial, the
jury found for plaintiffs on their Equal Terms claim. Doc. 86
at 1. Defendant aims to modulate this outcome, arguing that
plaintiffs achieved only “limited success on the
merits” because the jury did not find for plaintiffs on
their other four claims. Defendant does not cite any case law
recognizing its theory that limited success differs from
actual success. The court is unpersuaded by defendant's
argument. Indeed, other courts have rejected it implicitly.
See Rocky Mountain Christian Church v. Bd. of Cty.
Comm'rs, 612 F.Supp.2d 1157, 1160 (D. Colo. 2009)
(concluding plaintiff had achieved success on the merits when
jury entered favorable verdict on three out of
plaintiff's four RLUIPA claims). The court holds that
plaintiffs have succeeded on the merits because the jury
returned a verdict in plaintiffs' favor on their Equal
favorable Equal Terms verdict supports a finding that
plaintiffs are suffering irreparable harm. Defendant's
argument to the contrary is unavailing. Defendant contends
that plaintiffs have not shown irreparable harm because the
jury entered a favorable verdict for plaintiffs on their
Equal Terms claim but not on their Substantial Burden claim.
Defendant concedes that unequal treatment is a cognizable
harm protected by RLUIPA. But, defendant contends that
success on an Equal Terms claim alone does not necessarily
support a finding of irreparable harm.
court rejects the premise that plaintiffs' favorable
verdict on their Equal Terms claim alone cannot satisfy the
irreparable harm standard. In Rocky Mountain, the
court considered whether favorable jury verdicts for
plaintiff's Substantial Burden, Equal Terms, and
Unreasonable Limitations claims under RLUIPA satisfied the
irreparable harm prong of the inquiry. 612 F.Supp.2d at 1160.
The court concluded that the favorable RLUIPA verdicts
The violation of one's right to the free exercise of
religion necessarily constitutes irreparable harm. O
Centro EspiritaBeneficiente Uniao Do Vegetal v.
Ashcroft, 389 F.3d 973, 1008 (10th Cir. 2004). . . . The
fact that the [Rocky Mountain Christian Church's
(“RMCC”)] free exercise rights in this case are
based on statutory claims under the RLUIPA rather than on
constitutional provisions does not alter the irreparable harm
analysis. See, e.g., Kikumara v. Hurley,
242 F.3d 950, 963 (10th Cir. 2001) (“courts have held
that a plaintiff satisfies the irreparable harm analaysis by
alleging a violation of RFRA”); Jolly v.
Coughlin, 76 F.3d 468, 482 ([2d] Cir. 1996)
(“although plaintiff's free exercise claim is
statutory rather than constitutional, the ...