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Williams v. Arbuckle, Horvey, Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 24, 2014

WARREN WILLIAMS, # M-40803, Plaintiff,


J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center ("Lawrence"), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. He claims that Defendants have failed to accommodate his need for a special diet due to his severe food allergies, with deliberate indifference to his health and safety. Along with his complaint, Plaintiff has filed a motion for preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order ("TRO") (Doc. 4).

According to the complaint, Plaintiff has been diagnosed with allergies to beans and eggs, and his allergies were documented in his prison medical records before he was transferred to Lawrence on December 9, 2013 (Doc. 1, p. 10). Plaintiff informed Defendant Nurse Arbuckle of his food allergies the day he arrived at Lawrence. On December 14, 2013, Plaintiff put in a sick call request so that he could ask a nurse for a special diet. He saw Defendant Arbuckle, but she did nothing and told Plaintiff to write to the chaplain about his dietary requests. Plaintiff informed another unidentified nurse and several correctional officers about his allergies.

On December 27, 2013, Plaintiff wrote an emergency grievance requesting a special diet free of eggs and beans, and asking for a supply of Benadryl in case he were to accidentally ingest those foods (Doc. 1-1, pp. 38-39). He had been losing weight due to his efforts to avoid eating any food with eggs or beans, which are frequently served.

On December 28, 2013, Plaintiff was served a food tray containing what he thought was sloppy joe, so he ate it. Soon he began to sweat, his throat throbbed and swelled up, he began to have hot flashes and problems breathing, and he vomited multiple times (Doc. 1, p. 11). Defendant Nurse Horvey gave him Benadryl to treat his allergic reaction to the beans in the "sloppy joe." Later that evening, Plaintiff again asked Defendant Arbuckle to let him see a doctor to get a special food order. She refused to give him a doctor referral, as she had done continually since December 9, 2013. However, on December 29, Defendant Horvey issued a "therapeutic diet order" for Plaintiff to get a special diet without eggs or beans (Doc. 1, p. 12; Doc. 1-1, p. 13).

Plaintiff continued to be served food trays containing eggs and/or beans, and he spoke to Dr. Coe and LPN Baker (neither is a Defendant) about his allergies. His special diet was approved on January 29, 2014. After that, Plaintiff started getting special trays. However, his food trays still contained eggs or beans from time to time. On April 13, 2014, he got a tray with beans and sent it back. His replacement tray had cornbread, which gave him a minor allergic reaction. Plaintiff continued to get inadequate trays, so he wrote to Defendant Densmore (dietary supervisor) asking him to correct the problem.

On July 4, 2014, while the prison was on lockdown, Plaintiff was given a tray marked "no beans-no eggs." He ate potatoes from the tray and then realized that eggs were hidden under the potatoes. He started vomiting repeatedly and began to sweat, itch, and have trouble breathing because his throat was throbbing (Doc. 1, p. 14). He was escorted to the Health Care Unit in handcuffs, and was left alone in a room where he lay on the floor and continued to vomit. Defendant Nurse Horvey observed his condition but put off treating him while she continued to talk to the correctional officers. About 35-45 minutes later, Plaintiff tried to get up to see what was taking so long, but fell down and hit his head on the floor. He was finally taken to an examination room, where Defendant Horvey chastised him for eating the eggs and was verbally hostile to him, blaming him for his condition. She examined him and then sent him to a holding cell. Eventually, she gave him an injection of Benadryl. Plaintiff alleges she intentionally delayed his treatment despite her awareness of his life-threatening illness (Doc. 1, p. 16).

Plaintiff filed a grievance over Defendant Densmore's failure to ensure that his meals were free of eggs and beans, and over Defendant Horvey's failure to properly treat him. He also wrote to Densmore to complain about the continuing problem of receiving food to which he was allergic.

In August 2014, Plaintiff was sent to punitive segregation for allegedly assaulting a staff member. While he was there, he continued to get trays that were marked "no eggs-no beans" but still contained those foods. Some days he would not eat because prison staff told him he would not get the right food because he was a staff assaulter. Plaintiff wrote another grievance on August 20, 2014, complaining about Defendant Densmore's continuing disregard of his food allergies which placed him at risk of serious harm. Defendant Densmore has ignored Plaintiff's request slips about his diet and continues to send him trays with eggs and beans.

Again on October 24, 2014, Plaintiff had another allergic reaction due to Defendant Densmore's failure to adhere to Plaintiff's dietary orders. The tray was marked "no eggs-no beans, " but in fact contained beans which Plaintiff unknowingly consumed (Doc. 1, p. 20).

Plaintiff's "emergency" grievances were deemed non-emergency by Defendants Hodges and Duncan (the former and current wardens). When the grievances were submitted through the regular channels, they were not answered or were rejected as untimely. Plaintiff blames Defendants Strubhart and Ray for failing to timely address the grievances and failing to resolve the problems with his food.

Finally, Plaintiff asserts that the "Private Corporate Defendant" (by which the Court presumes he means Defendant Wexford Health Sources, Inc.) is responsible for policies, customs, or practices of failing to adequately train or supervise the Lawrence nurses, who denied and delayed his medical treatment as a result (Doc. 1, p. 19).

Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief to prevent Defendant Densmore from violating his dietary orders in the future, or alternatively to be transferred to another prison that will adequately ...

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