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Carlton Simmons v. Eric Taylor

September 5, 2012

CARLTON SIMMONS PLAINTIFF,
v.
ERIC TAYLOR, WARDEN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Jerome B. Simandle

OPINION

SIMANDLE, Chief Judge:

I. INTRODUCTION

This action is before the Court on the unopposed motion of Defendants Aramark Correctional Services, LLC, Aramark, Inc., and Dietician Carey to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against them for failure to state a claim. [Docket Item 21.] In this action, Plaintiff Carlton Simmons, proceeding pro se, alleges that while he was a pretrial detainee at the Camden County Correctional Facility ("CCCF") in 2009 his constitutional rights were violated by Defendants and other responsible state actors. In their instant motion, Defendants argue that Plaintiff fails to allege facts showing a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment Right to Due Process related to the food he was served while he was confined at the CCCF. As will be explained below, the Court agrees that the specific treatment Plaintiff alleges was committed by the moving Defendants does not amount to punishment prior to the adjudication of guilt or treatment that otherwise states a claim for a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court will consequently grant Defendants' motion to dismiss.

II. BACKGROUND

As this action is before the Court on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the Court takes as true all factual allegations contained in the Complaint. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Plaintiff was held as a pretrial detainee in the CCCF between at least July 10, 2009 and March 5, 2010. Compl. ¶ 5. Plaintiff alleges that while he was there, the facility was overcrowded. Id. ¶¶ 21-24. Plaintiff alleges that the overcrowding and management of the CCCF caused him several kinds of injuries by several different parties. Id. ¶¶ 34-36. As relates to the moving Defendants, Plaintiff alleges that he was served meals in an unsanitary manner, including food served on trays that were not clean ("Unsanitary Meal Service" ¶¶ a-c on 9), and that the meals that Defendants prepared and served contained inadequate calories. ("Failure to Provide Proper Calorie Intake" ¶¶ a-g on 9-11).

Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that particular meals served on November 25, 2009 and December 1, 2009 departed from the posted menu that Defendant Dietician Carey had prepared and signed. For example, on November 25, 2009, the advertised menu stated that the meal would consist of two franks, two buns, 3/4 cup of ranch beans, 1/2 cup of coleslaw, 1/2 cup of tossed salad, 1/2 oz of low-fat dressing, 1/4 oz of mustard, and 1/2 cup of vanilla pudding. Compl. ¶ iv at 11. By contrast, the actual lunch served (presumably to Plaintiff himself) on that day was: two hot dogs, two buns, four pieces of dry cabbage leaves, three spoonfuls of beans, and an apple. Id. at ¶ iii.

Plaintiff does not allege any facts indicating that he suffered any physical or psychological damage or injury from the actions of the moving Defendants. However, he does allege, generally, that he "suffered serious emotional and physical injuries, and has suffered real and measurable monetary damages" but does not allege facts supporting such conclusions. Id. ¶ 30 at 13. Plaintiff alleges that the treatment of Defendants violated his rights under both the Eighth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment.

Plaintiff filed his Complaint on March 5, 2010. On May 25, 2010, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims, concluding that because Plaintiff alleged he was a pretrial detainee at the time of the conduct alleged, his rights are protected under the Fourteenth Amendment and not the Eighth Amendment. [Docket Item 7.]

Defendants have subsequently moved to dismiss, to which Plaintiff has filed no opposition.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

In order to give defendant fair notice, and to permit early dismissal if the complained-of conduct does not provide adequate grounds for the cause of action alleged, a complaint must allege, in more than legal boilerplate, those facts about the conduct of each defendant giving rise to liability. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a) and 11(b)

(3). These factual allegations must present a plausible basis for relief (i.e., something more than the mere possibility of legal misconduct). See ...


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