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Sisney v. Reisch

South Dakota Supreme Court
754 N.W.2d 813 (2008)


CBN, Inc. (defendant) had a long standing contract with the State of South Dakota to provide food service to the state’s department of corrections (DOC) facilities. In 1998, Philip Heftel, an inmate at a DOC facility, brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the contract between the state and CBN violated his constitutional right to the free exercise of the Jewish religion by failing to provide a kosher diet. Prior to trial, Heftel and then-secretary of the DOC Jeffrey Bloomberg entered into a settlement agreement (the Agreement) that required the DOC to provide a kosher diet to all Jewish inmates who requested it, including prepackaged meals to be served twice daily. In 2007, CBN stopped serving prepackaged kosher meals and began serving a new kosher diet prepared and cooked in the prisons’ kitchens. Charles Sisney (plaintiff), an inmate at a DOC facility, filed an administrative complaint with Douglas Weber (defendant), director of prison operations, alleging that the change in the kosher menu violated the Agreement. Weber informed Sisney that Sisney and other inmates were not parties to the Agreement and rejected the complaint. Thereafter, Sisney brought suit against Weber and Tim Reisch, secretary of the DOC (collectively Defendants) alleging that they had breached the Agreement in violation of state law. The trial court dismissed Sisney’s complaint for failing to assert sufficient facts supporting an inference that either Reisch or Weber was responsible for enforcing the Agreement. Sisney appealed. The South Dakota Supreme Court granted certiorari to review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Zinter, J.)

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