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Clark v. Lashbrook

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 7, 2016

REGINALD CLARK, #B-17941, Plaintiff,


          STACI M. YANDLE, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Reginald Clark, 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. Finally, he claims retaliation based upon an action taken by Defendant Samolinski following a number of grievances. In connection with these claims, Plaintiff sues Jacqueline Lashbrook (Pinckneyville Warden), Suzann Bailey (Food Service Administrator), Vipen Shah (prison physician), John Baldwin (IDOC CEO/Director), Robert Samolinski (counselor/advocate), Mark Hartman (counselor/advocate) and Pinckneyville's Commissary Owner (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

         According to the Complaint, the defendants adopted a policy to administer a primarily soy-based diet, knew or should have known of the health risks associated with the diet, did not alter the diet when they became affirmatively aware of its repercussions, failed to provide medical treatment for the repercussions and minimized grievances regarding the diet (Doc. 1 at 5-7). Plaintiff essentially pursues two theories of Eighth Amendment harm-deliberate indifference and endangerment (Id. at 5, 7). Plaintiff claims that as a result of the diet, he has developed problems with his circulation, constipation, extreme stomach pain and gas, bloody bowel movements, headaches and other mental symptoms (Id. at 6-7). He further claims that Defendants either knew of the risks in advance or at least should have known of the risks once the female inmates in Illinois succeeded in suing over the soy diet in 2009 (Id. at 5-7).

         Plaintiff also alleges that all of the aforementioned actions were taken by 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 asserts that the IDOC officials participated by implementing the soy diet, that the medical staff participated by providing minimal care, 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.).

         Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Samolinski retaliated against him in response to his 2015 grievances by stealing his commissary purchases (Id.). He also claims that Defendants Lashbrook, Bailey, Samolinski and Hartman violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing to respond to his grievances (Id. at 5).


         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 Plaintiffs health by serving him a soy diet;

         Count 2:Conspiracy claim against Defendants for the soy diet;

         Count 3:First Amendment retaliation claim against Defendant Samolinski for stealing the Plaintiffs commissary; and, Count 4:Fourteenth Amendment claim against Defendants for failing to respond to grievances regarding the soy diet.

         Counts 1 and 3 shall receive further review against those defendants who are identified below in connection with each claim. All remaining claims, including Counts 2 and 4, shall be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         Coun ...

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