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McRoy v. Sheahan

September 22, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Geraldine Soat Brown


Plaintiff James McRoy ("McRoy") brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Sheriff Michael Sheahan ("Sheahan") and Aramark Correctional Services, Inc. ("Aramark") (collectively, "Defendants") violated his civil rights by providing him with uncooked chicken, spoiled lunch meat and spoiled milk (Count I). (Third Am. Compl. ¶¶ 10, 14, 20, 24, 28, 30, 34, 37.) [Dkt 42.] McRoy also alleges two state law claims against Aramark for physical harm caused by the consumption of a dangerous or contaminated food product (Count II) (id. ¶¶ 46-55), and breach of implied warranty (Count III) (id. ¶¶ 56-62).*fn1 Both Sheahan and Aramark have moved for summary judgment. [Dkt 62, 66.] The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). [Dkt 16, 17, 18.] For the reasons set forth below, Sheahan's motion for summary judgment is granted and Aramark's motion for summary judgment on Count I of McRoy's Third Amended Complaint is granted. Count I is the sole claim arising under federal law, and the court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims against Aramark. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3). Accordingly, Counts II and III are dismissed without prejudice.


McRoy has been incarcerated at the Cook County Correctional Facility, Division 11, since December 2002. (Sheahan's LR Resp. ¶ 1.)*fn3 Division 11*fn4 has four wings and houses between 1100 to 1500 detainees. (Pl.'s LR Resp. to Aramark ¶¶ 3, 5.)

Aramark is a food service contractor at the Cook County Jail. (Sheahan's LR Resp. ¶ 2.) Donna Whims is the dietician for Aramark. (Pl.'s LR Resp. to Aramark ¶¶ 5, 32.) Her responsibilities include training employees and overseeing quality control in terms of the overall sanitation practices and quality of the food. (Id. ¶ 32.)

A. Food Handling Procedures

Aramark's factual statement describes certain food handling procedures it follows, which McRoy does not dispute. Aramark's employees establish the menu, order the food, handle the delivery and storage of the food, and prepare all of the meals for the Cook County Jail. (Pl.'s LR Resp. to Sheahan ¶ 23.) To maintain its food service license, Aramark complies with the "Illinois Public Health Guidelines"*fn5 and receives annual certification from the city and the county. (Pl.'s LR Resp. to Aramark ¶ 32.) Aramark also follows federal guidelines that govern the inspection of food from the time it is received until it is served to assure that it is safe for consumption (the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point ("HACCP") System, 9 C.F.R. §§ 417.1 - 417.8 (2006)). (Pl.'s LR Resp. to Aramark ¶ 32; Sheahan's LR Ex. 9, Deposition of Donna Whims at 11.) The HACCP inspection consists of checking food temperatures, tray accuracy, and sanitation in general. (Pl.'s LR Resp. to Aramark ¶ 33.) Whims checks the cooler temperature and looks for any damaged equipment to determine its overall functioning. (Id.)*fn6 Whims also checks for signs of infestation. (Whims Dep. at 12.) Whims performs the HACCP inspection monthly and the food service manager performs that inspection weekly. (Pl.'s LR Resp. to Aramark ¶ 32.)

In addition to the monthly and weekly inspections, at every meal, the temperature of the food is checked and recorded as it cooks to ensure that it reaches a safe temperature for consumption.

(Id. ¶ 34.) A supervisor also tastes the food in the serving line and records its appearance, taste, and temperature. (Id.)

Aramark orders the food for the detainees and controls the receiving process and the storage process of the food. (Sheahan's LR Resp. ¶ 3.)*fn7 When the food arrives at the facility, the warehouse personnel unpack the food, identify it, inspect it for signs of damage or spoliation, and distribute it to the central kitchen or the Division 11 coolers. (Pl.'s LR Resp. to Aramark ¶ 36.) To ensure that the food will not spoil, Aramark's goal is to have the food in the coolers within one hour of receipt. (Id.) The food and beverages stored in the refrigerator are rotated, so that when the cooler is being stocked, the products that were already in the cooler are moved to the front, and the new products are put in the back. (Pl.'s LR Resp. to Sheahan ¶ 26; Whims Dep. at 64.) Aramark's staff also checks the packaging and expiration dates of the food and beverages served at the Cook County Jail. (Pl.'s LR Resp. to Sheahan ¶ 24.) Any food or beverage that is spoiled or past the expiration date is discarded. (Id. ¶ 25.)

Division 11 has two or three food storage facilities. (Pl.'s LR Resp. to Aramark ¶ 37.) McRoy admits that he does not know how many refrigerators are in Division 11. (Id. ¶ 8.) As a practice, Aramark checks the temperatures of the coolers every shift (every eight hours). (Id. ¶ 37.) In addition, Aramark's personnel are constantly in and out of the coolers and would detect a change in the temperature. (Id.) A safe refrigerator temperature is between 35 and 38 degrees. (Id.) When a cooler malfunctions, a mechanic is called to repair the refrigerator and the food is moved to another cooler or storage facility. (Id.)

Milk is delivered several times throughout the week. (Id. ¶ 49.) Milk and other products with expiration dates are checked in the warehouse before they are brought to the tray line. (Id. ¶ 34.) The milk is served in individual cartons with the expiration date stamped on the side. (Id. ¶ 18.) There is no way to determine whether milk is spoiled prior to serving it because Aramark relies on the expiration dates printed on the milk cartons. (Id. ¶ 44.) The only way of checking for spoiled milk is by verifying that the day the milk is being served is not beyond the expiration date stamped on the carton, as well as ensuring that the milk is stored at an appropriate temperature. (Id.)

Detainees receive three meals a day, which are served in the living area. (Id. ¶ 5.) All three meals are served on a tray that is prepared in the kitchen located on the premises of Division 11. (Id. ¶ 6.) After the food is prepared, it is brought from the kitchen to the living area by an elevator and the trays are distributed by the correctional officers with the assistance of some detainees. (Id.; Aramark's LR Resp. ¶ 4.) The deputy sheriff or officer on duty determines when the food is served. (Pl.'s LR Resp. to Aramark ¶ 7; Sheahan's LR Resp. ¶ 6.) No policies exist to govern how long the food can sit or when it must be delivered. (Whims Dep. at 68.) At his deposition, McRoy testified that sometimes the officer on duty does not serve the trays when they arrive in the living area. (McRoy Dep. at 78-80.) He explained that sometimes, when a detainee remains in his cell, he is not fed until lock-up time because the officers do not want to open the cells. (Id.) On these occasions, McRoy stated that even if the lunch trays arrive at 11:00 a.m., the detainees have to wait until the 1:30 p.m. lock-up to be served, or if the dinner trays arrived at 4:30 or 5:00 p.m., the detainees have to wait until the evening lock-up (sometimes as late as 9:30 p.m.). (Id.) McRoy also testified that he has seen the milk sitting out in the receiving area for periods of time, however, he did not specify any amount of time. (Sheahan's LR Resp. ¶ 26.)

B. The Complaint Process

A detainee can file a grievance for complaints involving food service and food quality. (Pl.'s LR Resp. to Aramark ¶ 11.) Whims ultimately receives the inmate complaints for Aramark. (Id. ¶ 39.) Aramark investigates all written complaints and provides a written response. (Id.)

Outside of the grievance process, when a detainee complains about his food, an officer calls the food services department and requests a replacement. (Id. ¶ 41.) Aramark responds right away and replaces the product if a replacement is available. (Id. ¶¶ 41, 45.) When Aramark receives verbal complaints or if an officer orders a replacement meal, the complaint is not always documented. (Id. ¶ 48.) However, if the complaint is serious in nature, the officer fills out an "unusual occurrence report" and may return the product for investigation and replacement. (Id.) Whims does not recall ever receiving an unusual occurrence report for Division 11. (Id.)

Upon receiving a complaint, Whims conducts an investigation, which generally consists of contacting the food services manager to discuss the problem and learn the details about what occurred. (Id. ¶ 42.) She attempts to find out if the incident actually occurred and if the item or tray was returned. (Id.) She then determines whether further investigation or employee retraining is necessary. (Id.)

C. Requests for Medical Attention

There are a number of ways an inmate can receive medical attention. First, a detainee can fill out a detainee health service request form. (Pl.'s LR Resp. to Aramark ¶¶ 9, 52.) The form is then given to an officer or nurse. (Id. ¶ 53.) The nurse performs an initial assessment of the patient to determine whether a physician visit is necessary. (Id. ¶¶ 52, 53.) Second, twice a day, a nurse visits the units and a detainee can request medical attention from the nurse. (Id. ¶ 9.) A detainee can see a nurse without filling out a health service request form. (Sheahan's LR Resp. ¶ 30.) Nurses are allowed to give over-the-counter drugs to inmates without written requests for the drug. (Id. ¶ 31.) Third, if a detainee requires immediate medical attention, he can tell the officer on duty, who can try to get the detainee to the dispensary if necessary. (Pl.'s LR Resp. to Aramark ¶ 9; McRoy Dep. at 28.) Finally, when there is a true medical emergency, the detainee is ...

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