United States District Court, D. Oregon
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
A. RUSSO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Pachattar Singh (“PS”) and Gurpreet Singh
(“GS”) initiated this action under the Religious
Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”). Defendants
Donald Trump, Kirstjen Nielson, Ronald Vitiello, Richard
Miller, Hugh Hurwitz, William Barr, and Josias
Salazar move to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). In response, plaintiffs
move for an extension of time to file an amended complaint
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). For the reasons set forth below,
defendants' motion should be denied and plaintiffs'
motion should be granted.
are both asylum seekers in the United States due to the
persecution they faced in their home countries for practicing
the Sikh religion. Compl. ¶¶ 7-8 (doc. 1).
Beginning on May 31, 2018, plaintiffs were detained in the
Federal Detention Center (“FDC”) at Federal
Correctional Institution Sheridan pursuant to a “zero
tolerance” presidential policy requiring placement of
unlawful immigrants in federal prisons. Id. at
¶¶ 16-19. PS was released on June 18,
2018. Id. at ¶ 7. GS was released
on September 20, 2018. Id. at ¶ 8.
to defendants, “the last Sikh detainee left FDC
Sheridan on or about September 20, 2018, and the last ICE
detainee left the FDC on November 28, 2018, ” and
“[t]here are currently no ICE detainees housed at the
FDC.” Newman Decl. ¶ 3 (doc. 12-1).
commenced this putative class action on November 1, 2018,
alleging that, while detained at the FDC, defendants denied
them access to a vegetarian diet, a turban or kara, religious
texts, and a sanitary and respectful setting in which to
conduct prayers in violation of their Sikh beliefs and the
RFRA. Compl. ¶¶ 7-8, 21-27, 30-31 (doc. 1).
Plaintiffs seek monetary damages and an injunction preventing
defendants from: “imprisoning Plaintiffs, or any member
of the Class, at Sheridan, and set a date certain by which
all such detainees must be removed therefrom, ” and
“depriving Plaintiffs of their constitutional and
statutory rights to exercise their freedom of
religion.” Id. at ¶¶ 32-37 & pg.
the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the action must
be dismissed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). The party who seeks to
invoke the subject matter jurisdiction of the court bears the
burden of establishing that such jurisdiction exists.
Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561
(1992). The court may hear evidence regarding subject matter
jurisdiction and resolve factual disputes where necessary.
Kingman Reef Atoll Invs., LLC v. United States, 541
F.3d 1189, 1195 (9th Cir. 2008).
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1), “[a] party may amend its
pleading once as a matter of course within . . . 21 days
after service of a motion under Rule 12(b).” Under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2), leave to amend pleadings “shall
be freely given when justice so requires.” Courts apply
Rule 15 with “extreme liberality.” Eminence
Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051 (9th
Cir. 2003) (citations omitted).
filed the present motion on March 21, 2019, arguing that
dismissal is warranted because: (1) the “RFRA does not
authorize monetary damages”; and (2) plaintiffs lack
Article III standing. Defs.' Mot. Dismiss 7-10 (doc. 12).
Concerning the latter, defendants maintain that, because
plaintiffs were released from the FDC prior to filing this
lawsuit, there is no immediate threat and, by extension, no
redressable injury. Id. at 8-9.
did not file a timely opposition to defendants' motion.
Instead, on April 11, 2019 (21 days after the filing of
defendants' Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) motion), plaintiffs
moved for a 60-day extension of time to amend their pleadings
as a matter of course pursuant to Fed. R. Civ.
P.15(a)(1). Pls.' Mot. Extension 3-6 (doc. 14).
Plaintiffs “strongly disagree” with
defendants' motion and represent they have facts within
their possession that can “cure any alleged
deficiencies.” Id. at 5-6. As such, plaintiffs
indicate that, should the Court deny their motion, they will
seek leave to amend in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2)
or simply file a new lawsuit. Id. at 6.
plaintiffs' representations and the parameters of
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15, the Court finds that plaintiffs'
requested extension should be allowed, thereby foreclosing
consideration of defendants' pending motion. See S.D.
v. Sakai, 2018 WL 7108063, *2 (D. Or. Oct. 11, 2018),
adopted by 2019 WL 309759 (D. Or. Jan. 22, 2019)
(issues relating to the merits or administration of a case
are best resolved following the filing of dispositive
complaint). This finding is consistent with the Ninth
Circuit's “longstanding policy in favor of deciding
cases on the merits.” Jones v. Las Vegas Metro.
Police Dep't, 873 F.3d 1123, 1128 (9th Cir. 2017)
(citations omitted); see also De Franco v. United
States, 18 F.R.D. 156, 159 (S.D. Cal. 1955)
(“[t]he general purpose of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure is to see that actions are tried on the merits . .
. To fall back on a technicality and refuse to permit a case
to come to issue on the merits is to sap the very heart out
of the rules and to obviate the very purpose for which they