Heard v. Finco, No. 18-2371 (6th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
A jury determined that four Muslim Michigan inmates collectively suffered $900 ($150 for each Ramadan the prison officials disrupted) in damages when prison officials did not provide them with adequate meals during Ramadan to accommodate their fasting. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting the inmates’ claim that the jury ignored the spiritual harms they suffered. The jury found that the inmates suffered spiritual injuries but, unlike economic injuries, spiritual injuries are hard to quantify. The jury heard the inmates’ testimony and saw their medical records, then weighed all the evidence and concluded that each inmate suffered $150 worth of harm for each Ramadan the prison officials disrupted. The district court did not downplay the inmates’ spiritual injuries nor did it require that the inmates submit medical records to substantiate those injuries; the court merely noted that objective evidence (like medical records) might have helped the jury reach a higher damages calculation. Without such concrete, objective evidence, the district court had no room to disagree with the value that the jury assigned to the inmates’ spiritual damages.