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Nickolas Garcia v. Western Correctional Center

February 22, 2012

NICKOLAS GARCIA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WESTERN CORRECTIONAL CENTER, DIRECTOR OF IDOC, JAMES SLEDGE, STATE OF ILLINOIS, IDOC DIETARY SERVICES ADMINISTRATOR, WARDEN, RICHARD YOUNG, JACKIE MILLER, MELODY FORD, DEBRA FUQUA, LT. ASHCRAFT, OFFICER JENNINGS, COUNSELOR GOINS, WEXFORD HEALTH SERVICES, DENNIS LARSON, DR. BAKER, AND NURSE PRACTITIONER DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sue E. Myerscough, U.S. District Judge:

E-FILED

Wednesday, 22 February, 2012 10:00:49 AM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and currently incarcerated in Western Illinois Correctional Center, pursues claims arising from alleged excessive soy in the prison diet. The case is before the Court for a merit review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

LEGAL STANDARD

The Court is required by § 1915A to review a Complaint filed by a prisoner against a governmental entity or officer and, through such process, to identify cognizable claims, dismissing any claim that is "frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." A hearing is held if necessary to assist the Court in this review, but, in this case, the Court concludes that no hearing is necessary. The Complaint and its attachments are clear enough on their own for this Court to perform its merit review of Plaintiff's Complaint.

The review standard under § 1915A is the same as the notice pleading standard under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Zimmerman v. Tribble, 226 F.3d 568, 571 (7th Cir. 2000). To state a claim, the allegations must set forth a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Factual allegations must give enough detail to give "'fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" EEOC v. Concentra Health Serv., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)(add'l citation omitted). The factual "allegations must plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a 'speculative level.'" Id., quoting Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged . . . . Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009), citing Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555-56. However, pro se pleadings are liberally construed when applying this standard. Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 546 (7th Cir. 2009).

ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff alleges that the Illinois Department of Corrections serves an excessive amount of soy to inmates, presenting a substantial risk of serious harm to Plaintiff's current and future health. Plaintiff has allegedly experienced constipation, blood in his bowel movements, stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting, all caused by the excessive soy. Plaintiff's grievances seeking a soy-free diet have been denied for the stated reason that, "[a]ccording to the Agency Medical Director, current extensive medical literature does not support the claim that soy diets cause significant medical problems and certainly not at the concentrations it is being served in the IDOC." (d/e 6-5, p. 1).

ANALYSIS

The Court cannot rule out a possible Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference arising from the alleged excessive soy in the prison diet. Plaintiff's allegations give rise to a plausible inference that the soy is causing him to currently suffer painful and possibly serious symptoms, and that the soy possibly presents a serious risk of harm to his future health.

The Court is aware that many prisoners have filed claims in this District and other Districts in this Circuit seeking a soy-free diet. The Court is not aware of any of those cases ending in the prisoners' favor. See, e.g., Conley v. Keys, 2011 WL 3819437 (C.D. Ill., Judge Shadid)(granting summary judgment for defendants on plaintiff's soy claim)(not reported in F.Supp.2d). However, at this point, the Court accepts Plaintiff's allegations as true. Plaintiff should be aware that if he loses this case, costs may be assessed against him pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d), even though he is proceeding in forma pauperis. McGill v. Faulkner, 18 F.3d 456, 458 (7th Cir. 1994)("[T]he rule that indigent prisoners, like anybody else, may be required to reimburse costs others have expended defending the prisoners' unsuccessful suits serves the valuable purposes of discouraging unmeritorious claims and treating all unsuccessful litigants alike.").

This claim will proceed only against the following Defendants with plausible control over the IDOC's master menu or control over whether Plaintiff should be medically prescribed a soy-free diet: the IDOC Director ; the IDOC Agency Medical Director; James Sledge; the IDOC Food Services Administrator;

Wexford Health Services, Inc.; Dennis Larson; and, Dr. Baker. No inference of personal responsibility plausibly arises against the remaining Defendants, who lack the expertise and authority to evaluate the soy claims or to determine whether Plaintiff has a medical need for a soy-free diet.*fn1 Additionally, the State of Illinois and Western Illinois Correctional Center will be ...


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