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Norwood v. Griswold

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 9, 2015

LAMONT NORWOOD, # B-59125, Plaintiff,


J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Lamont Norwood, an inmate currently incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville"), has filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that Defendants have promulgated a meal plan and schedule at the prison that have deprived him of adequate nutrition, in violation of his constitutional rights.

Under § 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to dismiss any portion of the Amended Complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

Procedural History

Plaintiff was previously listed as one of five plaintiffs in an action raising nearly identical claims, filed by another Pinckneyville inmate on September 24, 2014. Haywood v. Godinez, Case No. 14-cv-1027-JPG-DGW (S.D. Ill.). Plaintiff was dismissed without prejudice from that case on October 22, 2014, however, because he had not signed the complaint. ( Haywood v. Godinez, Doc. 14).

On October 27, 2014, Plaintiff initiated a separate, individual action, which again raised nearly identical claims. Norwood v. Godinez, Case No. 14-cv-1165-MJR-SCW (S.D. Ill.). The Court conducted a preliminary review of that complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and referred an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Godinez, Spiller, Bryant, and Griswold for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's basic need for adequate nutrition to a United States Magistrate Judge for further pre-trial proceedings. ( Norwood v. Godinez, Doc. 10). The next day, however, Plaintiff filed a document entitled, "Motion to Withdraw Complaint." ( Norwood v. Godinez, Doc. 11). In the notice of dismissal, Plaintiff asked to withdraw his complaint in its entirety and stated that no one had forced him to make that decision. Id. The Court advised Plaintiff that when a plaintiff moves to dismiss an action (or, technically, files a notice of dismissal) before an opposing party serves an answer or summary judgment motion, dismissal is effectuated without a Court order, and is without prejudice. Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(1)(A)(i). See Jenkins v. Vill. of Maywood, 506 F.3d 622, 624-25 (7th Cir. 2007) (Rule 41(a) notice "terminates the case all by itself."). In accordance with Rule 41, the case was dismissed without prejudice ( Norwood v. Godinez, Doc. 17) and judgment was entered (Doc. 18). Three days later, Plaintiff filed a motion to supplement the complaint ( Norwood v. Godinez, Doc. 19), without making any reference to the motion to withdraw he had filed five days earlier. The motion to supplement was denied as moot ( Norwood v. Godinez, Doc. 20) and Plaintiff filed no other documents in that case.

Plaintiff filed the instant action on January 12, 2015. (Doc. 1). On January 26, 2015, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint (Doc. 7) and a Motion for Class Action Certification[1] (Doc. 6). In these pleadings, Plaintiff refers to the initial case, Haywood v. Godinez, Case No. 14-cv-1027-JPG-DGW (S.D. Ill.), but he makes no mention of the most recent case he filed and then voluntarily dismissed, Norwood v. Godinez, Case No. 14-cv-1165-MJR-SCW (S.D. Ill.). The Court is also aware, after reviewing the court records in Haywood v. Godinez, that Plaintiff has continued to file documents in that case, even after being dismissed.

The Court reviews this procedural history for three reasons. First, Plaintiff should understand that the only pending case in which he is currently a plaintiff is the present action, Norwood v. Godinez, Case No. 15-cv-0035-JPG (S.D. Ill.). Second, the Court wants to make sure Plaintiff understands that he is responsible for the filing fee in every case he initiates, regardless of whether the complaints raise identical issues. For example, when Plaintiff filed his previous case (14-cv-1165-MJR-SCW), he incurred a filing fee, even though he subsequently moved to dismiss the case. By initiating the present action, although nearly identical to his previous case, Plaintiff incurred a second filing fee. If at some point Plaintiff sought and was granted leave to intervene as a co-plaintiff in Haywood v. Godinez, he would incur a third filing fee. See Boriboune v. Berge, 391 F.3d 852, 856 (7th Cir.2004) (plaintiffs proceeding under Prison Litigation Reform Act each have to pay their own filing fee, even if they are proceeding jointly). Finally, Plaintiff is advised that under Rule 41(a)(1)(B) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, because Plaintiff has already voluntarily dismissed this action once, a subsequent notice of dismissal would "operate[] as an adjudication on the merits."

The First Amended Complaint

According to the First Amended Complaint, Defendants changed the former three-meals-per-day plan at Pinckneyville in September 2013. (Doc. 7, p. 5). Under the current schedule, inmates are served only two meals each day - a "brunch" at 10:00 a.m., and dinner at 5:15 p.m. Thus, there is a 17 to 18 hour interval between the dinner meal and brunch on the following day. In addition, Plaintiff asserts that the food portions are undersized. Plaintiff further asserts that Defendants Bryant (food services administrator), Spiller (Pinckneyville Warden), Godinez (Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections - "IDOC"), and Griswold (IDOC Food Administrator) were involved with either creating the "brunch" meal plan or had approved of its use in response to complaints. Id. at 5-8. Plaintiff further claims that Defendant Godinez adopted this meal plan in an effort to save millions of dollars, and that Defendants Bryant and Spiller have approved serving inadequate food portions, in order to save money. Id.

As a result of the nutritionally inadequate meals and the many hours Plaintiff is forced to wait to eat between the evening dinner and the next day's "brunch, " Plaintiff has suffered a number of health problems. These include dizziness, loss of sleep, failure to comprehend while performing daily activities like reading, writing, or exercising; headaches, weight loss and loss of balance. Id.

Plaintiff also claims that Defendants Godinez and Griswold violated his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection because prisoners in all other IDOC institutions are still fed three meals per day, while Pinckneyville inmates receive only two nutritionally inadequate daily meals. Id. at 5 and 8.

As relief, Plaintiff seeks an injunction against Defendant Godinez to halt the "brunch program" meal plan. He also ...

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