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Thomas Donlon’s practice focuses on appellate and complex trial matters. He is a member of the Robinson+Cole's Appellate Team within the Business Litigation Group. Tom is involved in all aspects of complex litigation in trial courts, with a concentration on motion practice, particularly complex dispositive motions requiring the briefing of challenging legal issues. Working with other members of the firm’s litigation group, his cases have run the gamut of civil litigation, including the representation of one of America's largest corporations in an international contract dispute, the defense of insurance companies against bad faith claims, the enforcement of arbitration agreements against class action attack, defense of Native American corporations, disputes over major government construction contracts, and enforcement of penalties and attorney’s fees in bankruptcy. He litigated a series of Daubert motions in patent cases which significantly assisted the successful resolution of the matters and has also assisted in a number of land use and environmental cases in support of the firm’s practice in those areas. He was an integral part of the land use team litigating a major RLUIPA case.

Religious entities that wish to short-circuit the often lengthy zoning application process are tempted to bring a facial challenge under RLUIPA.  As the decision in Calvary Chapel Bible Fellowship v. County of Riverside, 948 F.3d 1172 (9th Cir. 2020) demonstrates, this approach can face as many hurdles as the zoning application.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Rejects RLUIPA Facial Challenge

Ripeness is an important defense to RLUIPA claims.  A plaintiff must receive a final decision from the local authority as to how the zoning law applies to its proposal.  If not, plaintiff’s RLUIPA claim could be dismissed as unripe.  Requiring a party to go through the full local procedures offers practical benefits to local governments, crystalizing the issues and presenting an opportunity to resolve matters prior to litigation.  An initial denial by busy working-level zoning officials may create problems that can be solved by a zoning board of appeals’ more detailed and thoughtful review.  The final decision requirement insures that review occurs before the courts become involved.  Recently, however, plaintiffs have argued that finality is no longer necessary for a RLUIPA claim to be ripe.
Continue Reading Is Finality Still A Requirement For A RLUIPA Action To Be Ripe?