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Stubbs v. Lamb

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 6, 2017

KENT STUBBS, M51378 Plaintiff,


          Staci M. Yandle United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Kent Stubbs, an inmate at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's claims involve alleged health and safety violations based on how food is prepared and served at Lawrence. In connection with these claims, Plaintiff has sued Nicholas Lamb (Warden) and seven food service/dietary supervisors, including Mr. Densmore (Food Service Manager), Mr. Kone (Food Service Manager), Christopher Waltz (Dietary Supervisor), Brook Armstrong (Dietary Supervisor), Lisa Kittle (Dietary Supervisor), Sherri Newnell (Dietary Supervisor) and Mrs. McVee (Dietary Supervisor). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief. (Doc. 1, p. 14).

         This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of Plaintiff's 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).

         The Complaint

         While incarcerated at Lawrence, Plaintiff has become sick on several occasions after eating in the chow hall. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Plaintiff's symptoms have included nausea, severe diarrhea and vomiting. Id. Plaintiff believes his bouts of illness are caused by food contamination and unsanitary conditions in the chow hall and kitchen at Lawrence. Id. The following are Plaintiff's specific allegations pertaining to health and safety issues in the kitchen and chow hall at Lawrence.

         Persistent Rodent Infestation

         The chow hall floor is often covered with trash and food. Plaintiff has observed mice running in and out of large holes in the chow hall walls to retrieve food and trash from the floor. (Doc. 1, p. 10). Id. On one occasion, Plaintiff saw several mice retrieving food from the chow hall floor. Id.

         Inmates working in the kitchen have reported that there is a “serious” rodent infestation in the kitchen where food is being prepared. (Doc. 1, p. 11). Mice have been observed “running around” the kitchen area, beneath the stoves/hot boxes and inside the coolers. Id. Inmates have observed mouse droppings in food/drink crates and in food preparation materials. Id. Plaintiff has also seen signs of rodent nesting beneath the steamers on the food service line. (Doc. 1, p. 13).

         On December 13, 2016, Plaintiff found a mouse dropping stuck to the bread roll on his lunch tray. (Doc. 1, p. 9). He showed the mouse dropping to another inmate and he agreed it was indeed a mouse dropping. Id. On the same day, another inmate reported finding a mouse dropping on his milk carton. Id.

         Other Unsanitary Conditions

         Plaintiff has been served food on dirty trays with black buildup and leftover food residue. (Doc. 1, p. 10). Food trays are prepared in advance and left sitting out well before inmates arrive to eat. (Doc. 1, p. 10). During the summer months, Plaintiff has observed flies swarming around the prepared food. Id. The chow hall has been shut down “a few times” because maggots were found on the serving line. Id. Plaintiff also claims that food is not maintained at a safe ...

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