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Smith v. Illinois Dept. of Corrections

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 11, 2015

PRENTISS SMITH, # R-29484, Plaintiff,
v.
ILLINOIS DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS, TY BATES, SUZANN BAILEY, THOMAS SPILLER, DOCTOR SHAH, SALVADOR GODINEZ, and PINCKNEYVILLE CORRECTIONAL CENTER, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

STACI M. YANDLE, District Judge.

Plaintiff Prentiss Smith, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center, brings this action pro se for alleged violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff claims that Pinckneyville's "two-meal-per-day" policy and the high content of soy in his diet violate his rights under the Eighth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, and ADA. In connection with these claims, Plaintiff sues the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"), Salvador Godinez (IDOC director), Ty Bates (IDOC deputy director), Pinckneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville"), Thomas Spiller (Pinckneyville warden), Suzann Bailey (Pinckneyville food services administrator), and Doctor Shah for monetary damages.

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 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 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). As discussed in more detail below, the complaint survives preliminary review under Section 1915A.

The Complaint

Plaintiff brings two sets of claims in his complaint. The first arises from Pinckneyville's "two-meal-per-day" policy. The second arises from the soy diet that Plaintiff has received since 2012. Each set of claims is separately addressed below.

"Two-Meal-Per-Day" Policy

According to the complaint, Pinckneyville offers its inmates no breakfast (Doc. 1, p. 6). Inmates are instead served brunch from 10:00-10:30 a.m. and dinner from 4:00-4:30 p.m. daily. Plaintiff is required to go without food for up to eighteen hours at a time. As a result, he suffers from severe stomach pain (including hunger pains), erratic weight fluctuations, and headaches.

Plaintiff maintains that the two meals are nutritionally inadequate. Together, they total less than 1, 800 calories. Plaintiff has two options. He can either wait for his next meal or supplement his diet with food from the commissary. However, his access to the prison's commissary has been restricted since February 26, 2015, when he was placed in segregation.

Plaintiff alleges that the decision to eliminate breakfast was, in part, punitive. Pinckneyville is a disciplinary prison, and it is also the only prison within the IDOC that serves no breakfast. But he also alleges that the policy reflects a conspiracy by "high ranking officials... [to] line their pockets with money" by forcing prisoners to purchase food in the prison's commissary (Doc. 1, p. 7).

In addition to writing his grievance counselor, Plaintiff directed complaints to Defendants Bailey, Spiller, Bates, and Godinez. No one responded.

Plaintiff now sues Defendants IDOC, Godinez, Bates, Pinckneyville, Spiller, and Bailey for violating his rights under the Eighth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, and ADA. He also brings a conspiracy claim against them.

Soy Diet

Plaintiff also claims that the soy diet he has received since 2012 has caused him to suffer adverse health consequences (Doc. 1, p. 7). According to the complaint, more than ninety percent of the IDOC's prison diet consists of soy products. Plaintiff alleges that diets high in soy are associated with negative health consequences that include an increased risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and pancreatic disorders. Plaintiff claims that the soy diet has caused him to suffer from severe constipation, severe gas, pain and weakness, poor circulation in his extremities, and depression (Doc. 1, p. 8). Defendant Shah refused to issue Plaintiff a soy-free diet, in response to his complaints about these symptoms. He instead recommended that Plaintiff purchase food from the commissary. Plaintiff's grievances addressing this issue were not returned to him.

In connection with the soy diet, Plaintiff now sues Defendants IDOC, Godinez, Bates, Pinckneyville, Spiller, Bailey, and Shah for violating his rights under the Eighth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment.

Based on the allegations, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se complaint into the following six claims, which correspond to those set forth above. 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 regarding their merit.

Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants IDOC, Godinez, Bates, Pinckneyville, Spiller, and Bailey for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's need for adequate food to meet his nutritional needs;
Count 2: ADA claim against Defendants IDOC, Godinez, Bates, Pinckneyville, Spiller, and Bailey for depriving Plaintiff of ...

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