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Calvin Jones v. Aramark Food Services

July 27, 2011

CALVIN JONES,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
ARAMARK FOOD SERVICES, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bumb, District Judge

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Plaintiff, Calvin Jones, a state inmate confined at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Delmont, New Jersey, at the time he submitted the above-captioned Complaint for filing, seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis. Based on his affidavit of indigence, the Court will grant plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) (1998) and order the Clerk of the Court to file the Complaint.

At this time, this Court must review the Complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A, to determine whether the Complaint should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. For the reasons set forth below, the Court concludes that the Complaint will proceed in part.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Calvin Jones ("Jones"), brings this civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the following defendants: Aramark Food Services; a John Doe defendant, employee of the Aramark Food Service; and the Salem County Correctional Facility. (Complaint, Caption and ¶¶ 4.B through 4.D). The following factual allegations are taken from the Complaint, and are accepted for purposes of this screening only. The Court has made no findings as to the veracity of plaintiff's allegations.

Jones alleges that, on May 20, 2010, he was working in the kitchen area of the Salem County Correctional Facility. He states that he was an inmate hired and paid to work in the kitchen area at Salem County Correctional Facility to assist in the preparation and cooking of meals at that facility. On May 20, 2010, a defendant employee of Aramark Food Services demanded that plaintiff assist in the service of food trays. Jones alleges that he was told if he did not do as directed he would be disciplined for refusal to work. Jones asserts that the defendant employee was "negligent as he acted with an intentional and misguiding authority" as defendant "was well aware that this service line would not have been approved for operation by O.S.H.A." Jones states that the defendant was "unprofessional and reckless." (Compl., ¶ 6).

Jones further alleges that he was forced to work the service line and stainless steel steam table that was faulty and defective; namely, there was defective wiring on the service line owned and operated by defendant Aramark Food Services. In performing his duties as directed, plaintiff came into contact with the faulty wiring and was electrocuted. (Compl., ¶¶ 4B and 6).

Jones also alleges that defendant Salem County Correctional Facility was negligent and "indifferent to human life" by "forcing" plaintiff to work near the service line and supplying plaintiff with inadequate shoes. Specifically, Jones alleges that the shoes became split on the bottom, which caused plaintiff's sole of his foot to come in contact with water. Jones also contends that Salem County Correctional Facility was aware of the defective wiring before plaintiff's accident, and that an air conditioning cord was placed on the defective service line. Jones does admit that "Do No Use" signs were posted on the service line. The sign or notice contained the warning that contact "may cause death." (Compl., ¶ 6).

Jones states that he was electrocuted when he came into contact with the service line, and that he was taken to the hospital for treatment due to an elevated heart rate. Plaintiff continues to suffer from headaches, back pain, numbness and twitching in his leg, momentary vision loss, nightmares, fear of electrical equipment, and erectile dysfunction. (Compl., ¶ 6).

Jones seeks monetary damages in excess 0f $1.5 million. (Compl., ¶ 7).

II. STANDARDS FOR A SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL The Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996), requires a district court to review a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis or seeks redress against a governmental employee or entity. The Court is required to identify cognizable claims and to sua sponte dismiss any claim that is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A. This action is subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under both 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) an § 1915A.

In determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the Court must be mindful to construe it liberally in favor of the plaintiff. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007)(following Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976) and Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972)). See also United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir. 1992). The Court must "accept as true all of the allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Morse v. Lower Merion School Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). The Court need not, however, credit a pro se plaintiff's "bald assertions" or "legal conclusions." Id.

A complaint is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989) (interpreting the predecessor of § 1915(e)(2), the former § 1915(d)). The standard for evaluating whether a complaint is "frivolous" is an ...


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