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Boone v. MacLaren

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division

July 17, 2017

RONNIE BOONE, Plaintiff,
v.
DUNCAN MACLAREN, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          Janet T. Neff United States District Judge

         This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, PUB. L. NO. 104-134, 110 STAT. 1321 (1996), the Court is required to dismiss any prisoner action brought under federal law if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The Court must read Plaintiff's pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept Plaintiff's allegations as true, unless they are clearly irrational or wholly incredible. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992). Applying these standards, Plaintiff's action will be dismissed for failure to state a claim.

         Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff Ronnie Boone, a state prisoner currently confined at the Kinross Correctional Facility (KCF), filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Warden Duncan MacLaren, Supervisor S. Lewis, Director Shawn McMullen, Deputy Warden Kathy Olsen, Grievance Section Manager Richard D. Russell, Grievance Coordinator L. Berlinger, Aramark Correction Services, and Trinity Service Group.

         In Plaintiff's complaint, he alleges that on June 19, 2014, Aramark employees were serving french fries for lunch, but ran out before the end of the lunch period. In an attempt to hurry and prepare more fries, Aramark employees served the fries before they were finished cooking. Consequently, Plaintiff was given half cooked fries. On June 21, 2014, Plaintiff was served half cooked cheesy rotini because of a hasty attempt to make more food after the supply had run out. On August 3, 2014, Plaintiff saw another prisoner grab two pieces of chicken from the serving tray with his bare hand. An Aramark employee observed the food theft and took the chicken away from the prisoner. Plaintiff asked Aramark employees “what about the other pieces of chicken in the pantry that may have been touched by [the] prisoner?” However, the Aramark food service steward served the remaining pieces of chicken. Plaintiff asserts that the “whole pantry of chicken should have been taken off the serving line and thrown away . . . because the remaining pieces of chicken were contaminated.” Plaintiff contends that this conduct violated the Michigan Public Health Code, as well as Policy Directive 04.07.100.

         On September 9, 2014, the chow hall again ran out of food and employees rushed to make more sloppy joe meat. Plaintiff claims that he was served uncooked, red sloppy joe meat. On September 28, 2014, the chow hall ran out of chicken and chicken was subsequently served before it was properly cooked. Plaintiff claims that undercooked chicken was also served by Aramark employees on November 23, 2014. On November 25, 2014, Plaintiff saw a kitchen worker pull a plastic glove out of the bread pudding. Plaintiff told Aramark worker Ms. Plount that the pan of bread pudding needed to be thrown away, but Ms. Plount did not respond and continued to serve the bread pudding to prisoners.

         On December 14, 2014, Aramark served tacos for dinner. Plaintiff ate two tacos and subsequently became ill. On December 15, 2014, Plaintiff asked Defendant Lewis about the taco meat and was told that it consisted of ground up leftover meat from the salisbury meat served on December 10, 2014. Plaintiff states that he filed a grievance and that the grievance response indicated that 1400 portions of taco meat had been served, and that he was the only prisoner who became ill. On December 22, 2014, Plaintiff found a piece of plastic glove in his cookie. On December 26, 2014, Plaintiff observed prisoner Freeman pull a piece of plastic out of his cookie.

         On January 22, 2015, Plaintiff filed a step I grievance asserting that Aramark was in violation of several food code regulations, and was serving food under conditions which pose a substantial risk of serious harm to Plaintiff. Plaintiff stated that the trays were not being properly cleaned and that the backs of the trays had a buildup of “calcium/lime, soap scum/residue buildup.” Plaintiff further stated that the trays were being stacked on top of each other while still wet, which causes bacteria to form on the eating surface. Plaintiff also complained that some of the utensils were bent, chipped, and flaking, so that they did not have a smooth surface and could not be properly cleaned. On June 30, 2015, Defendant McMullen responded to Plaintiff's grievance by stating, “we will have our dish room team detail the trays, and the ones with cuts or scratches will be removed from service.” Plaintiff filed a step II grievance appeal on August 4, 2015, stating that the problem had not been entirely resolved. The step II respondent found that efforts had been made to rectify the problem. The response also noted that Aramark was no longer under contract with the MDOC, and that the new food contractor was Trinity Food Group. Plaintiff filed a step III appeal, conceding that an effort had been made, but that the problem had not been solved because some of the trays and utensils continued to be damaged and were not properly cleaned and disinfected. On August 19, 2015, Plaintiff received a step III response from Richard D. Russell, denying the grievance appeal.

         On September 5, 2015, Trinity Food Group was serving pizza and french fries for lunch. Plaintiff states that while waiting to be served, he asked about the condition of the trays and utensils and that Defendant Lewis told him that they had all been replaced. When Plaintiff received his food tray, he noticed that it was not clean and had food from a previous meal on it. Plaintiff showed it to Officer Berry, who told Plaintiff to get a new tray of food. Plaintiff claims that these types of incidents created tension and hostility in the food service area, which culminated in Prisoner Robertson assaulting two female food service workers.

         Plaintiff has also filed three motions to amend, along with “proposed amended complaints, ” which are actually attempts to supplement his original complaint. Therefore, the Court will grant Plaintiff's motions (ECF Nos. 6, 7, and 9), and will consider the supplemental information in these proposed filings as part of the complaint in this case. In the first (ECF No. 6), Plaintiff states that Defendants were aware of the problems with the food service and failed to properly supervise or take corrective action. Plaintiff also claims that Defendants falsified records in response to Plaintiff's grievances.

         In the second proposed amended complaint (ECF No. 7), Plaintiff states that the number of complaints filed by numerous prisoners were sufficient to inform Defendants of the conditions in food service, and that the ongoing conditions constituted deliberate indifference. Plaintiff also notes that the complaints regarding food service were brought up in a Warden Forum Meeting and a Food Service Agenda Meeting, as well as in the context of civil litigation. Plaintiff states that the unsanitary conditions hindered his ability to recover from his illnesses, which included Hepatitis C, migraines, mental distress, and digestive disorders. On August 12, 2015, Plaintiff was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes as a result of eating junk food from the commissary because of the unsanitary conditions in Food Service. Plaintiff also suffered from eye problems secondary to Diabetes, and high triglycerides and cholesterol. Plaintiff alleges that on October 6, 2015, he saw Psychiatrist Dr. McQueeney at Community Mental Health regarding his emotional distress. Dr. McQueeney increased Plaintiff's Prozac dosage and discussed placing Plaintiff back on Wellbutrin. Dr. McQueeney also asked Plaintiff if he was losing weight due to the “food situation, ” and Plaintiff replied that he was eating a lot of junk food from the Prison Commissary.

         In the third proposed amended complaint (ECF No. 9), Plaintiff notes that research done by “The Prison VoiceWashington report” for a March 3, 2017 article on prison food shows that the food is not only gross, but nutritionally inadequate. The article (ECF No. 9-2) focuses on prisons in the state of Washington, but also notes that in a Michigan report, Corrections Officers reported frequent deviations from the menu, especially watering down recipes and serving small portions, making it impossible for inmates to get the nutrients agreed upon by contract. Plaintiff relies on the report's conclusions that the food served in prisons exacerbates and causes illnesses, such as obesity, heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. Plaintiff asserts that all of the named Defendants knew of and disregarded an excessive risk to the health and safety of Plaintiff and other prisoners. Plaintiff states that conditions at the Kinross Correctional Facility (KCF) led to a prison riot. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have placed him in four-point restraints for hours without access to the toilet, causing Plaintiff to suffer pain and emotional distress.

         Plaintiff claims that Defendants' conduct violated his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and ...


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