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Tankesly v. Aramark Correctional Services

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

October 21, 2019




         On April 6, 2018, Plaintiff Calvin Tankesly, who is incarcerated at the Turney Center Industrial Complex (TCIX) in Only, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) His complaint addresses events that occurred during his previous confinement at the Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX), in Tiptonville, Tennessee. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 3.) The Court issued an order on April 9, 2018, granting leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessing the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 4.) Tankesly also moved for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction, (ECF No. 6), which the Court denied (ECF No. 11). Tankesly has moved for reconsideration of that denial. (ECF No. 12.) However, nothing in the motion persuades the Court the ruling was erroneous; therefore, for the reasons previously stated, the motion for reconsideration is DENIED.

         The Clerk shall record the Defendants as Aramark Correctional Services; M. Slad, Dietician;[1] Pam Wright, Food Service Director; Jeremy Pickrel, former Food Service Manager; Sammy Taylor, former Food Service Manager; Veronica Cadney, Food Steward; Willie Ramsey, Food Steward; Susan Redden, Food Supervisor; Linda Moran, Food Steward; Freddie Thomas, Sergeant; and Carla Cole, Correctional Officer (C/O).[2]

         Tankesly alleges that in 2013, he underwent treatment for throat cancer that has caused throat inflammation; loss of his saliva glands and taste buds; and damage to his throat lining, sinuses, and teeth. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 12.) Because of the treatment, Tankesly cannot produce saliva and is limited in what he can chew and safely swallow. (Id.) He alleges he cannot eat with the general prison population because of “unsightly sinus drainage, [and] forced extraction of foods that accumulate while eating.” (Id. at 12 n.7.)

         Tankesly generally alleges that the Aramark Defendants knew of his condition but refused to provide him sufficient nutrition through foods he could eat. (Id. at PageID 8.) He alleges that the Aramark Defendants did not provide him the required 2, 500 calories per day of nutrition, causing him “to suffer unnecessarily” from weight loss, dizzy spells, light headedness, fatigue and tooth breakage. (Id. at PageID 13.) Tankesly states he was temporarily housed at the Lois M. Deberry Special Needs Facility (SPND)[3] in Nashville while he awaited court proceedings in February 2018. (Id. at PageID 14.) There he received a “‘Special Diet' with proper portions.” (Id. (emphasis omitted).) He asserts that the Defendants at NWCX had the same options available but refused to provide them to him. (Id.) Instead, he often went without eating or consumed well below 2, 500 calories per day, which he believes is necessary to maintain his health. (Id. at PageID 15-16.) Tankesly asserts that he was medically prescribed a special diet, but the Defendants refused to comply with the directive, “citing ‘Corp. policy.'” (Id. at PageID 16.) He separately alleges that Defendants Cadney and Ramsey intercepted Tankesly's food tray from the inmate serving the meals and threw into the trash foods that he could eat. (Id. at PageID 17.)

         Tankesly alleges that Aramark Defendants Slad, Wright, Pickrel, and Taylor “had a duty to hire and train competent food stewards” who would provide him adequate nutrition. (Id. at PageID 9.) He asserts that these Defendants were aware of the food stewards' refusal to provide him alternative foods and were “actively complicating Plaintiff's plight, denying him sufficient nutrition.” (Id. at PageID 17.) Tankesly claims that “the unwritten policies, customs and practices providing sufficient nutrition to post cancer patients is unreasonable and outdated, ” leading to his inadequate nutrition. (Id. at PageID 21 (emphasis omitted).)

         Tankesly suggests that Aramark, “for financial reasons and gain, ” has broken its contract with the Tennessee Department of Correction “to provide sufficient nutrition of 2, 500 calories per inmate, per day.” (Id. at PageID 10.) He asserts that Aramark has “the means and capacity to adjust their general menu to accommodate ‘specific' medical conditions - but insist on putting profit interest ahead of providing sufficient nutrition to Plaintiff.” (Id. at PageID 20.) He also suggests in passing that Aramark and its employees conspired to deny inmates required food, which Tankesly asserts amounts to violations of his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Id. at PageID 10-11.)

         Tankesly alleges that the NWCX Defendants ordered Tankesly to leave the dining area on several occasions before he received his meal because Tankesly did not sign an unspecified document. (Id. at PageID 21.) He also alleges that Defendant Cole ordered diet line workers to remove food from his tray. (Id.)

         Tankesly seeks nominal, compensatory, and punitive damages from each Defendant, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief. (Id. at PageID 23.) He sues the Aramark Defendants in their official and individual capacities, (id. at PageID 20), but sues the NWCX Defendants in only their individual capacities (id. at PageID 23).

         The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the complaint-

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         In assessing whether the complaint in this case states a claim on which relief may be granted, the standards under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), as stated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009), and in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007), are applied. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). The Court accepts the complaint's “well-pleaded” factual allegations as true and then determines whether the allegations “plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.'” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681). Conclusory allegations “are not entitled to the assumption of truth, ” and legal conclusions “must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Although a complaint need only contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), Rule 8 nevertheless requires factual allegations to make a “‘showing,' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3.

         “Pro se complaints are to be held ‘to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers,' and should therefore be liberally construed.” Williams, 631 F.3d at 383 (quoting Martin v. Overton, 391 F.3d 710, 712 (6th Cir. 2004)). Pro se litigants, however, are not exempt from the requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989); see also Brown v. Matauszak, 415 Fed.Appx. 608, 612, 613 (6th Cir. Jan. 31, 2011) (affirming dismissal of pro se complaint for failure to comply with “unique pleading requirements” and stating “a court cannot ...

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