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Jefferson v. Aramark Correctional Services

United States District Court, D. Kansas

December 22, 2017

ANTHONY JEFFERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
ARAMARK CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

          SAM A. CROW U.S. SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Anthony Jefferson, is hereby required to show good cause, in writing, to the Honorable Sam A. Crow, United States District Judge, why his claims against Defendant Aramark Correctional Services should not be dismissed due to the deficiencies in Plaintiff's Complaint that are discussed herein. The Court finds that proper processing of Plaintiff's claims against the remaining Defendants cannot be achieved without additional information from appropriate officials of the Hutchinson Correctional Facility in Hutchinson, Kansas (“HCF”).

         I. Nature of the Matter before the Court

         Plaintiff, a prisoner currently incarcerated at HCF, brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

         Plaintiff alleges that he requested to be placed on a Kosher diet at HCF on June 1, 2017. Plaintiff received a response on June 7, 2017, requesting that he fill out a request for a certified religious diet (“CRD”) and submit it to chaplain services. Plaintiff did not fill out the request form for a CRD because the meal components at HCF are not Kosher-certified by a supervising Rabbinical committee and are not stored, prepared or served in accordance with Jewish Kosher dietary laws.

         Plaintiff alleges that the same meal components for CRD meals and the same storage, preparation, and servicing procedures are used at all Kansas Department of Corrections (“KDOC”) facilities. Plaintiff alleges that the packaging of the CRD meal components do not contain the proper Kosher symbols, meaning that there has been no Rabbinical supervision of that food product and that the food product is not Kosher. Plaintiff also alleges that the meal components are served and stored in the same area as non-Kosher food items. Plaintiff alleges violations of his First Amendment rights and RLUIPA. Plaintiff names Aramark Correctional Services and multiple KDOC and Aramark staff as defendants. Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment, compensatory damages, nominal damages, punitive damages and injunctive relief.

         II. Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or an employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if a plaintiff has raised claims that are legally frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2).

         “To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988)(citations omitted); Northington v. Jackson, 973 F.2d 1518, 1523 (10th Cir. 1992). A court liberally construes a pro se complaint and applies “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In addition, the court accepts all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true. Anderson v. Blake, 469 F.3d 910, 913 (10th Cir. 2006). On the other hand, “when the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief, ” dismissal is appropriate. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 558 (2007).

         A pro se litigant's “conclusory allegations without supporting factual averments are insufficient to state a claim upon which relief can be based.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitlement to relief' requires “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). The complaint's “factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level” and “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 555, 570.

         The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has explained “that, to state a claim in federal court, a complaint must explain what each defendant did to [the pro se plaintiff]; when the defendant did it; how the defendant's action harmed [the plaintiff]; and, what specific legal right the plaintiff believes the defendant violated.” Nasious v. Two Unknown B.I.C.E. Agents, 492 F.3d 1158, 1163 (10th Cir. 2007). The court “will not supply additional factual allegations to round out a plaintiff's complaint or construct a legal theory on a plaintiff's behalf.” Whitney v. New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997) (citation omitted).

         The Tenth Circuit has pointed out that the Supreme Court's decisions in Twombly and Erickson gave rise to a new standard of review for § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) dismissals. See Kay v. Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214, 1218 (10th Cir. 2007)(citations omitted); see also Smith v. United States, 561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th Cir. 2009). As a result, courts “look to the specific allegations in the complaint to determine whether they plausibly support a legal claim for relief.” Kay, 500 F.3d at 1218 (citation omitted). Under this new standard, “a plaintiff must ‘nudge his claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.'” Smith, 561 F.3d at 1098 (citation omitted). “Plausible” in this context does not mean “likely to be true, ” but rather refers “to the scope of the allegations in a complaint: if they are so general that they encompass a wide swath of conduct, much of it innocent, ” then the plaintiff has not “nudged [his] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.” Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1247 (10th Cir. 2008) (citing Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1974).

         III. DISCUSSION

         The Court finds that proper processing of Plaintiff's claims cannot be achieved without additional information from appropriate HCF officials. See Martinez v. Aaron, 570 F.2d 317 (10th Cir. ...


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