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Haywood v. Godinez

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 22, 2014

SEYON HAYWOOD, No. R58464, CORYELL HENZ, No. K96695, BRYAN THOMAS, No. B12763, DAVID MAYORGA, No. M41991, and LAMONT NORWOOD, No. B59125, Plaintiffs,
v.
S.A GODINEZ, THOMAS SPILLER, TERRI BRYANT, UNKNOWN PARTY, and SHERRY BENTON, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiffs Seyon Haywood, Coryell Henz, Bryan Thomas, David Mayorga and Lamont Norwood, inmates in Pinckneyville Correctional Center, bring this proposed class action for deprivations of their constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on the allegedly inadequate nutrition provided to inmates at Pinckneyville.

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening. - The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal. - On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint -
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that "no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit." Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross "the line between possibility and plausibility. Id. at 557. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

The Complaint

According to the complaint, the meals served at Pinckneyville are comprised of small portions of food that do not provide adequate nutrition. The prison has also switched from serving three meals per day to serving only two meals-which officials have falsely touted to the press as being favored by the inmates. The named plaintiffs and other inmates at Pinckneyville have suffered weight loss, headaches, dizziness, difficulty functioning and sleep loss. Plaintiffs contend that the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") is trying to save millions of dollars at the expense of their health.

Suit is brought against IDOC Director S.A. Godinez, the unnamed IDOC Food Service Administrator, Pinckneyville Warden Thomas Spiller, Pinckneyville Dietary Manager Terri Bryant, and IDOC Administrative Review Board member Sherry Benton. Defendants are sued in their individual capacities. The complaint asserts that each defendant had "direct knowledge" of the situation.

It is alleged that each of the five defendants violated the Eighth Amendment. It is further alleged that IDOC Director S.A. Godinez violated Plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment right to due process because Plaintiffs' grievances were denied based upon the assurances of Warden Spiller and Dietary Manager Bryant that "administrative criteria & menus" were being followed. However, in response to a Freedom of Information Act inquiry, the IDOC stated that it does not have records reflecting how master menus conform to nutritional guidelines, or any other nutritional analysis of the menus ( see Doc. 1-1, pp. 14-15). Master menus, however, do reflect the portion size for each food item that is served ( see Doc. 1-1, pp. 19-24).

A Fourteenth Amendment due process claim is also asserted against Pinckneyville Dietary Manager Terri Bryant for making false statements to the news media, stating that inmates agreed to the two-meal plan, and falsifying documents in order to implement the two-meal plan. Plaintiffs, inmate Haywood in particular, contend that they did not agree or favor a two-meal plan, which violates an inmate's rights under Department of Justice edicts requiring three meals per day with no more than 14 hours between the evening meal and breakfast ( see Doc. 1-1, p. 18).

Class certification is requested, and injunctive relief and monetary damages are sought.

Based on the allegations in the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into three counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

Count 1: All Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiffs' health when they acted or failed to act resulting in inmates being afforded inadequate nutrition, in violation of the Eighth Amendment;
Count 2: Defendant IDOC Director S.A. Godinez violated Plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment right to due process by denying Plaintiffs' grievances regarding the food based upon false information; and
Count 3: Defendant Pinckneyville Dietary Manager Terri Bryant violated Plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment right to due process by making false statements to the news media and falsifying ...

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