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Ruiz v. Bailey

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 17, 2017

ANDREW RUIZ, Plaintiff,


          STACI M. YANDLE U.S. District Judge

         Plaintiff Andrew Ruiz, an inmate 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. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants conspired to violate his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by serving him a soy-based diet. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages and fees.

         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).

         During the pendency of this action, it came to the Court's attention that another inmate at Pickneyville had been filing soy-diet cases without the consent of the named plaintiffs and in some cases, forging the signature of the named plaintiffs. The Court therefore took the unusual step of asking Plaintiff Ruiz to confirm his intention to proceed with the case as filed. (Doc. 11). On May 23, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Response to the Court's Order stating, “my lawsuit is not bogus and I would like to continue on with suit.” (Doc. 12). This satisfies the Court that Plaintiff's suit is legitimately filed.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff entered Pickneyville sometime in 2015. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Since arriving, he began eating a soy-based diet that was devoid of fresh fruit. Id. Plaintiff complained to Defendants Lashbrook and Love in November 2016 as both defendants were coming out of the chow hall. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Lashbrook told Plaintiff to eat more commissary items if he didn't like what was being served in chow hall. Id. When Plaintiff objected that commissary prices were too high, Lashbrook told him that she didn't give “a fuck.” Id. Lashbrook also told him that if he didn't want to eat prison food, he should stay out of prison. Id.

         Plaintiff experienced extreme gas and constipation. Id. On one occasion, he went 9 days without a bowel movement. Id. When he finally had a movement, he tore his anus and the feces clogged the toilet up. Id. There was blood all over. Id. Plaintiff saw Defendant Dr. Shah in the hallway and told him about his constipation and the tear, but Shah told him that he did not know what he was talking about and that he just needed to drink more water. Id. Shah then refused to examine him or provide treatment. Id. Plaintiff also suffers from headaches and depression as a result of the soy diet (Doc. 1, p. 8).

         Plaintiff alleges that the food situation is part of a conspiracy and that Defendant Fisher and others have taken “real” food and loaded it up in their cars. Id. Plaintiff has been forced to spend large amounts of money at the commissary purchasing adequate food. Id. On one occasion, he saw the commissary owner out and told him that prices were too high. Id. The commissary owner told the inmates that he would never eat the dining hall food and that they were better off eating commissary items. Id.

         Plaintiff wrote to the IDOC director (Defendant Baldwin) and Defendant Bailey, but was ignored. Id.


         Based on the allegations, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se Complaint 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. The following claim survives threshold review:

Count 1 - Eighth Amendment claim against Shah for being deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's constipation and torn anus; The following claims will be dismissed at this time:
Count 2 - Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's health in violation of the Eighth Amendment when they developed and served a soy diet; Count 3 - Defendants conspired to serve Plaintiff a soy diet in deliberate indifference to his health in violation of the Eighth Amendment in order to maximize prison commissary profits, Count 4 - Fourteenth Amendment claim against Defendants Baldwin and Bailey for failing to respond to communications.

         Coun ...

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