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Evans v. Albany County Correctional Facility

May 14, 2009

ORREL EVANS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ALBANY COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY; MARY KAY WEIS, KITCHEN SUPERVISOR; JAMES CAMPBELL, SHERIFF; T. ROCKWELL, ISU; GLORIA COOPER, MEDICAL SUPERVISOR; AND THOMAS WIGGER, JAIL ADMINISTRATOR, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby, United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

Currently before the Court in this pro se prisoner civil rights action are (1) Defendant Cooper's motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 53), (2) the remaining Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and/or for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 54), (3) United States Magistrate Judge David E. Peebles's Report-Recommendation recommending that Defendant Cooper's motion be granted, and that the remaining Defendants' motion be granted in part and denied in part (Dkt. No. 66), and (4) Defendants' timely Objections to the Report-Recommendation (Dkt. No. 67). For the reasons set forth below, the Report-Recommendation is adopted in part, Defendants' motions for summary judgment are granted in their entirety, and Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint is dismissed in its entirety.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Relevant Procedural History

On November 9, 2005, Plaintiff filed this action against Albany County Correctional Facility ("ACCF") and five individuals employed by Albany County. On July 13, 2007, Plaintiff amended his Complaint for the second time. (Dkt. No. 27.) Generally, in his Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his rights under the First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments by failing to provide him on a regular basis with a vegetarian diet which, he maintains, was necessitated by both an allergy to certain foods and his genuinely held religious beliefs. (Id.) More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that this failure (1) infringed upon his right to freely exercise his chosen religion, as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, (2) exposed him to cruel and unusual punishment and/or deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and (3) denied him equal protection under the law, as guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment. (Id.)

On October 2, 2007, Defendants filed their Answer to Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint. (Dkt. No. 31.) On May 15, 2008, Defendant Gloria Cooper filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. (Dkt. No. 53.) The next day, the remaining Defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and, in the alternative, a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. (Dkt. No. 54.)

On January 30, 2009, Magistrate Judge Peebles issued a Report-Recommendation recommending that Defendants' motions be granted in part and denied in part. (Dkt. No. 66.) Specifically, Magistrate Judge Peebles recommended that (1) all claims against Defendant Cooper be dismissed, (2) all claims against Defendant ACCF be dismissed, (3) Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment claim be dismissed, and (4) a trial be held on Plaintiff's remaining First and Eighth Amendment claims because of the existence of genuine issues of material fact. Familiarity with the grounds of the Report-Recommendation is assumed in this Decision and Order.

On February 12, 2009, Defendants (other than Defendant Cooper) filed their Objections to the Report-Recommendation. (Dkt. No. 67.)

B. Undisputed Material Facts

Plaintiff was incarcerated at the ACCF on June 30, 2005. Upon intake, the staff at ACCF performed a medical screening of Plaintiff. During his screening, Plaintiff filled out a medical history and screening form.*fn1 On the form (which he signed), Plaintiff indicated that he had no allergies, medical or otherwise, and further indicated that he did not require any special diet. On July 3, 2005, Plaintiff submitted a Health Services Request Form to the medical department.*fn2

This form did not reference any special/vegetarian diet.

On July 5, 2005, Plaintiff sent a letter to the Inmate Services Unit ("ISU"), in which he indicated--for the first time--that he was a vegetarian.*fn3 Generally, there are at least four separate types of vegetarian diets offered at ACCF.*fn4 In addition, there are at least three separate "vegetarian style" diets, which either include the use of fish, cheese or eggs.*fn5

On July 7, 2005, Plaintiff submitted a second Health Services Request Form, which again made no reference to any special/vegetarian diet.*fn6 However, on July 8, 2005, Plaintiff submitted a third Health Services Request Form that did indicate that he was a vegetarian, in addition to being allergic to meat and eggs.*fn7 On that same day, the medical department wrote an order for Plaintiff to receive a vegetarian diet.*fn8

On July 20, 2005, Plaintiff submitted a letter to Defendant Rockwell at ISU, in which he complained that it took "years" for him to get his food.*fn9 On July 29, 2005, Plaintiff submitted a letter to ISU, indicating that he was not receiving the proper meals, even though the medical department had indicated that he was a vegetarian.*fn10 On that same day, ISU provided the letter to the kitchen supervisor and to the medical department. ISU also sent a letter to Plaintiff, informing him that his letter had been sent to the "kitchen and medical supervisor," and that his card on his "tier is marked for a rasafarian [sic] vegitarian [sic] diet."*fn11

On July 30, 2005, the medical department prepared a Special Diet Request Form for Plaintiff, which indicated that Plaintiff should receive a vegetarian diet, and should not receive any animal products.*fn12 However, according to Plaintiff, on August 5, 2005, he "again did not receive a meal because[,] according to an unknown correctional officer, there was nothing in the kitchen stating Plaintiff was to receive vegetarian meals."*fn13 Plaintiff unsuccessfully "tried explaining his situation regarding him not receiving his and having his name removed from the vegetarian diet list to an unknown supervising officer making rounds."*fn14

As a result, Plaintiff submitted a Health Services Request Form to the medical department on August 20, 2005.*fn15 In this Health Services Request Form, Plaintiff indicated that the "wrong meal" was being sent to him. The form was reviewed by the medical department on August 22, 2005. Defendant Cooper noted on the form that, according to the department's records, Plaintiff had already been placed on a vegetarian diet since August 5, 2005.*fn16 However, according to Plaintiff, even after submitting a grievance on August 20, 2005, regarding the receipt of the wrong meals, he "continued to have problems receiving, and quality of his meals."*fn17

In early September 2005, Plaintiff submitted a Health Services Request Form complaining of skin irritation on his face and arm.*fn18 The form did not mention any allergy, or problems with his vegetarian/special diet. After receiving the form, the medical department saw Plaintiff and gave him ointment for an acne breakout.

On October 13, 2005, Plaintiff submitted another Health Services Request Form regarding a problem with urinating.*fn19 The form made no mention of any allergy, or problems with his vegetarian/special diet. On October 14, 2005, Plaintiff was seen for this complaint.

According to Plaintiff, "[o]n October 20, 2005, [he] received a 'supposed' vegetarian meal" that was actually "badly burnt eggs and pears."*fn20

In addition, attached as an exhibit to his unsworn opposition memorandum of law, Plaintiff has provided the Court with a calendar, in which he has circled 72 days between June 29, 2005, and October 20, 2005, on which he asserts he either (1) "miss[ed]" a meal, or (2) received his meal late.*fn21 The Court notes that, apart from not being attached to an affidavit, the calendar fails to specify which days Plaintiff missed a meal, and which days he simply received his meal late. In addition, the calendar fails to specify whether he missed the meal because (1) he was not given a meal at all, or (2) he was not given the (presumably vegetarian) meal he requested. Finally, the calendar indicates that Plaintiff did not receive a timely meal at ACCF on June 29, 2005 (though incarcerated there at the time), which appears inaccurate because he was not incarcerated at ACCF until June 30, 2005.

In any event, in their memorandum of law in support of their motion for summary judgment, Defendants concede that Plaintiff did not receive a vegetarian meal on a few occasions.*fn22 Furthermore, in their reply papers, Defendants attempt to quantify the extent of this deprivation by indicating that Plaintiff did not receive the proper meal "a half dozen or so times."*fn23

As a result of the foregoing treatment, Plaintiff alleges that he lost thirty (30) pounds between June 28, 2005, and October 2005.*fn24 Plaintiff also alleges that he suffered from migraine ...


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