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Walker v. Lashbrook

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 12, 2016

BRUCE WALKER, #M-40804, Plaintiff,

          Bruce Walker, Plaintiff, Pro Se.


          MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

         Plaintiff Bruce Walker, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville"), brings this pro se action for alleged violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1). Plaintiff claims that the Illinois Department of Corrections' ("IDOC") soy-based diet for prisoners violates his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. He also claims that all of the named Defendants acted in a conspiracy to establish and maintain a policy of serving a soy diet with the end goal of pocketing large profits. In connection with these claims, Plaintiff sues Jacqueline Lashbrook (Pinckneyville warden), Suzann Bailey (food service administrator), unnamed IDOC director, Mark Hartman (counselor/advocate), Marcus Hardy (deputy director of IDOC) and Pinckneyville's commissary owner (hereinafter "Swanson's") for monetary damages and injunctive relief.

         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).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff brings a number of claims in his Complaint, all related to the provision of a soy diet (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). According to the Complaint, the Defendants adopted a policy to administer a primarily soy-based diet as a way to pocket large profits, despite knowing that it caused serious medical repercussions for inmates. ( Id. at 6-7). As a result of the diet, Plaintiff claims he has developed severe constipation, fatigue, severe stomach pains, loss of circulation, and extremely bad gas ( Id. at 6-7). Cellmates have attacked him on multiple occasions for the bad gas ( Id. at 7). He claims that, despite him and other inmates having lodged countless grievances with the IDOC, the Defendants have failed to take any action ( Id. at 5-7).

         Plaintiff also alleges that all of the aforementioned actions were taken by the Defendants in furtherance of a conspiracy to save money by serving soy instead of animal products, to drive up business at the commissary and to pocket the profits from the savings and the commissary sales ( Id. at 5-6). Specifically, he notes that the IDOC officials participated by implementing the soy diet, that the medical staff participated by refusing care for soy-related ailments, that the counselors participated by interfering with grievances and that the commissary owners participated by telling inmates to buy more food from the commissary ( Id. ). Plaintiff also alleges that the commissary prices on popular items were often raised higher than they should have been under prison rules or policies ( Id. ).

         In response to verbal complaints, Hartman and Lashbrook have told him to stop complaining ( Id. at 6). A commissary owner told him to buy more food from the commissary rather than eating at chow ( Id. at 7). He has not received responses to written complaints directed at the IDOC Director, Bailey, Hardy, or Swanson's ( Id. ).


         Based on the allegations, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se Complaint into the following enumerated claims. 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 for endangering Plaintiff's health by serving him a soy diet;
Count 2: Conspiracy claim against Defendants for the soy diet; and,
Count 3: Fourteenth Amendment claim against Defendants for failing to respond to grievances regarding the soy diet.

         Count 1 shall receive further review against those defendants who are identified below in connection with that claim. All remaining claims, including Counts 2 and 3, shall be dismissed for ...

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