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$27,500 Settlement for Washington Prisoner’s Public Records and RLUIPA Claims

The State of Washington Department of Corrections paid $27,500 to settle two lawsuits brought by prisoner Derek E. Gronquist. The first action involved request for disclosure of public records, and the second related to violations of religious freedom.

The public records suit related to Gronquist’s request to inspect records pertaining to Airway Heights Corrections Center guard Jeffrey Ward. That request broke into 12 categories various types of records that encompassed all aspects of documentation that pertains to a guard’s employment. This includes lawsuits, grievances or disciplinary infractions filed by or against him. See: Gronquist v. Department of Corrections, Spokane County Superior Court, Case No. 07-2-00562-0.

The religious freedom claim alleged violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. Gronquist, a Taoist, claimed prison officials substantially burdened the practice of his religion by refusing to provide him a healthy vegan diet; to purchase, possess and use property necessary for Taoist practice; Taoist literature; and space to conduct Qigong exercises and meditation. See: Gronquist v. Williams, USDC, W.D. Washington, Case No. C06-5543

Acting pro se, Gronquist reached a settlement in his lawsuits in March 2009. He received $22,500 to settle the public records suit. The agreement terminated a pending public records disclosure suit described in the complaint and prohibits Gronquist from making future requests for those records.

Gronquist further received $5,000 to settle the religious freedom claim, and that monetary settlement was to be placed in his prisoner account without any deductions under statute or to pay debt to the Department of Corrections. The settlement also provided for dismissal of the two suits listed above and a pending appeal.

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Related legal cases

Gronquist v. Department of Corrections,

Please see the brief bank for documents related to this case.

Gronquist v. Williams,

Please see the brief bank for documents related to this case.