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Stewart v. Bailey

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 23, 2017

JERMAINE M. STEWART, Plaintiff,
v.
SUZANN BAILEY, JOHN BALDWIN, TY BATES, JACQUELINE LASHBROOK, LARUE LOVE, MIKE FISHER, and WEXFORD MEDICAL SOURCES, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          MICHAEL J. REAGAN Chief Judge

         Plaintiff Jermaine Stewart, an inmate in Pinckneyville Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims the defendants conspired to provide him with an inadequate diet and were deliberately indifferent toward his medical problems that arose therefrom. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff sues Suzann Bailey (food service provider), John Baldwin (Director of IDOC), Ty Bates (Deputy Director of IDOC), Jacqueline Lashbrook (prison warden), Mike Fisher (food service manager), Larue Love (assistant warden), and Wexford Medical Sources (contracted medical service provider) for monetary damages. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening - The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal - On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         An action or claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that any reasonable person would find meritless. Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross “the line between possibility and plausibility.” Id. at 557. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Upon careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges the defendants violated his constitutional rights by serving him a soy-based diet despite known negative health risks. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-8). Plaintiff also claims fresh fruit is served to inmates only once every several months and the breakfasts each day are very small, consisting of “just a few spoonfuls of oatmeal or grits, and an egg or small patty.” (Doc. 1, p. 8) Because the last meal of the day is served at 4:00pm, and breakfast “is not a meal at all, ” Plaintiff alleges inmates suffer 12-18 hours of hunger pangs between supper and lunch each day. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff further asserts Bailey, Baldwin, Bates, Lashbrook, Love, and Fisher acted in conspiracy to maintain a policy of serving this nutritionally inadequate and harmful diet in violation of his rights. Id.

         Plaintiff contends that since beginning the soy-based diet he has experienced a number of health issues. (Doc. 1, pp. 7-8). Plaintiff's health issues allegedly include severe constipation resulting in blood in his stool, stomach pains, extreme gas, fatigue, a torn anus, depression, and severe headaches. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff sought medical attention for his health issues, but one unnamed nurse did not assist him. Id. Another unnamed nurse told him he could not get a hormone level check done, claiming “Wexford don't allow us to do that. It's too expensive and it's useless.” Id. Plaintiff allegedly filed two grievances, in October 2015 and September 2016, at least one of which he sent to the warden. Id. Plaintiff provides no detail regarding the substance of these grievances.

         Discussion

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into 4 counts. 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-Defendants have been deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's medical needs by failing to treat the symptoms he attributes to his ongoing consumption of soy products, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Count 2-Bailey, Baldwin, Bates, Lashbrook, Love, and Fisher violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights by serving a nutritionally deficient diet consisting of very little fruit and an inadequate breakfast.
Count 3-Bailey, Baldwin, Bates, Lashbrook, Love, and Fisher subjected Plaintiff to unconstitutional conditions of confinement by implementing a soy-based diet policy, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Count 4-Bailey, Baldwin, Bates, Lashbrook, Love, and Fisher conspired together to violate Plaintiff's rights by implementing a soy-based and nutritionally inadequate diet policy.

         Counts 1 and 4 shall de dismissed pursuant to § 1915A for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Count 2 shall proceed against defendants Bailey, Baldwin, Bates, Lashbrook, Love, and Fisher. Count 3 shall be dismissed pursuant to § 1915A for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and on qualified immunity grounds. Any other intended claim that has not been recognized by the Court is considered dismissed with prejudice as inadequately pleaded under the Twombly pleading standard.

         Coun ...


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