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Webster v. Baldwin

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 1, 2018

TONY L. WEBSTER, #R71679, Plaintiff,
v.
BALDWIN, ATKINS, JEFF DENNISON, CAMPBELL, WARDEN WALKER, MAJOR GRISSOM, and MAJOR HILLE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Tony L. Webster, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently housed at Shawnee Correctional Center (“Shawnee”), filed this pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's original Complaint (Doc. 1) did not survive preliminary review, and his Amended Complaint (Doc. 8) is now before the Court for screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must 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).

         Background

         Plaintiff's original Complaint brought claims based on perceived differences in the conditions of confinement at Shawnee, compared with other medium security IDOC facilities. Plaintiff claimed that the alleged disparities violate the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, amount to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and constitute retaliation in violation of the First Amendment.

         Based on the allegations in the original Complaint, the Court divided Plaintiff's claims into the following counts:

Count 1: Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim against Defendants relative to the conditions of confinement at Shawnee, as compared to other medium security IDOC facilities.
Count 2: Fourteenth Amendment due process claim against Defendants relative to the conditions at Shawnee, as compared to other medium security IDOC facilities.
Count 3: Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants for subjecting Plaintiff to conditions of confinement constituting cruel and unusual punishment.
Count 4: First Amendment retaliation claim against Defendants relative to the conditions of confinement at Shawnee, as compared to other medium security IDOC facilities.

(Doc. 7, p. 3). Counts 1 and 2 were dismissed with prejudice. (Doc. 7, pp. 3-6). However, Counts 3 and 4 were dismissed without prejudice and with leave to amend. (Doc. 7, pp. 6-8).

         The Amended Complaint

         The Amended Complaint can be divided into four sets of claims: (1) Eighth Amendment claims pertaining to Shawnee's food service; (2) Eighth Amendment claims pertaining to the conditions in Plaintiff's cell; (3) First Amendment claims pertaining to Shawnee's alleged “universal punishment” policy; and (4) Fourteenth Amendment claims pertaining to the alleged “universal punishment” policy. The relevant allegations are summarized below.

         Unsanitary Food Service Conditions

         Plaintiff worked in Shawnee's cafeteria in 2017 and 2018. (Doc. 8, p. 5). During that time, he observed and experienced the following conditions: (1) a dirty kitchen; (2) lack of hot water to clean food service areas and pots and pans; (3) food contaminated with bleach; (4) food that tastes like soap; (5) food left sitting on trays for hours, without steam tables or heaters; (6) food served in the same carts used to carry out trash (without sanitizing the carts); and (7) food served by workers with long facial hair who are not wearing beard nets. Id. Plaintiff claims that, after eating in Shawnee's cafeteria, he has experienced stomach cramps, diarrhea, violent vomiting, burning in his throat, fever, and body aches. Id. Plaintiff says he complained about these conditions, in person or in writing, to Major Grissom, Major Hille, Warden Dennison, Warden Campbell, and Warden Walker. Id. He also claims that he spoke to Assistant Director Atkins ...


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