United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY, L BROOKS UNITED&STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a civil rights action in which Plaintiff Jason Duane Emery is
proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis.
Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in the Wrightsville Unit
of the Arkansas Department of Correction ("ADC").
At all times relevant to this Complaint, he was incarcerated
in the Washington County Detention Center ("WCDC").
contends his constitutional rights were violated at the WCDC
in the following ways: (1) he was not provided with an
adequate diet, and the method in which the jail transported
the food to the prisoners was substandard; (2) the commissary
charged exorbitant prices; (3) he was denied access to the
courts; (4) the grievance procedure was inadequate; (5) he
was denied access to newspapers or other media containing
local, state, or world news; (6) the classification system
denied him Equal Protection; and (7) he was denied adequate
medical care. Plaintiff also brings a supplemental state law
claim under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act
("ADTPA") based on the operation of the
case is before the Court on two motions for summary judgment.
The first is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed on behalf of
Aramark Correctional Services, LLC ("Aramark"), and
its employees, Tommy Roark, Tina Webb, Jessie England, and
Carla Cink (collectively, the "Aramark
Defendants"). See Doc. 88. Plaintiff filed a
Response in opposition to this Motion. See Doc. 125. The
second Motion for Summary Judgment was filed on behalf of
Sheriff Helder, Major Denzer, Lieutenant Foster, Sergeant
Stanton, Sergeant Morse, Sergeant Arnold, R. Walker, Dr.
Karas, Nurse Landon Harris, Corporal Caudle, Corporal
Workman, Nurse Kristen Nichols, Corporal Mulvaney, Deputy J.
Velasco, Lieutenant Reeser, and Sergeant Ake (collectively,
the "Washington County Defendants").See Doc.
97. Plaintiff also filed a Response to the second Motion for
Summary Judgment. See Doc. 122. For the reasons
explained herein, the Aramark Defendants' Motion is
GRANTED, and the Washington County
Defendants' Motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED
was booked into the WCDC on June 24, 2016. (Doc. 99-2, p. 1).
At that time, he was 6'1" and weighed 242 pounds.
Id. at 2. According to the intake sheet, he stated
that he was currently taking the blood pressure medications
Amlodipine, Minoxidil, and Lisinopril, as well as a pain
medication called Tramadol. Id. He did not have the
medications with him at the time of booking. He further
reported that the last time he was seen by a doctor was in
Eureka Springs approximately two months prior. Plaintiff also
alleged that he had suffered past injuries to his neck, back,
knee, and shoulder. Also at the time of booking, he admitted
to being addicted to methamphetamine and using the drug
daily. (Doc. 99-3, p. 2).
incarcerated at the WCDC, Plaintiff began receiving regular
meals, three times per day. "Arkansas Jail Standards,
Section 11-1001, require the minimum daily calorie level for
sedentary inmates shall be 2300 calories and the minimum
calories for active inmates shall be 2700 calories."
(Doc. 99-1, p. 3); see also Doc.100-1, p. 1. Aramark
contracts with Washington County to provide all food and
commissary services at the WCDC. No WCDC employee "is
qualified to manage the caloric values of the menu
plans." (Doc. 99-1, p. 3). Further, Aramark is not
required to consult any WCDC employee in the planning or
preparation of the meals served in the WCDC.
Tommy Roark, Tina Webb, Jessie England, and Carla Cink are
Aramark employees who were assigned to work at the WCDC
during the relevant time.
Aramark dietician responsible for the inmate menu was Kate
Crowley, MPH, RD, LDN. She has a master's degree in
public health, and she is both a registered dietician and a
licensed dietician/nutritionist. (Doc. 90-2, p. 1). According
to Crowley, the menu at the WCDC is periodically reviewed to
ensure that all meals are nutritionally balanced and meet
caloric requirements sufficient to sustain good health. The
menu is also approved by Washington County.
affirms that the regular inmate menu meets the guidelines of
the American Correctional Association and the Food and
Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, National
Academy of Sciences, dietary guidelines for adults aged 19 to
50. See Id. at 2. She maintains that the meals
served each day total approximately 3000 calories, which
exceeds the current daily recommended intake for an adult
aged 19 to 50. According to Crowley, all meals served to
Plaintiff were in compliance with the 28-day meal plan
approved at the WCDC. Id. at pp. 3, 5. The WCDC
follows the meal plan without regard to when commissary
orders are placed or delivered. Moreover, Crowley claims that
when setting, reviewing, or approving the menu at the WCDC,
she is unaware of which days, if any, that commissary orders
are placed or delivered. Id. at 3. Aramark employees
oversee the preparation of meals at the WCDC, and specific
utensils are used to ensure that a full serving of each food
item is easily and precisely measured. See Doc. 90-2
Carla Cink is Food Service Director for Aramark. She manages
the kitchen and inmate meals at the WCDC. Cink asserts in her
affidavit that all meals served to Plaintiff were in
accordance with official Aramark policy which required that
the meals be prepared pursuant to the guidelines established
by the dietician. See Doc. 90-3, p. 1. The WCDC
makes a daily request for a specific number of each type of
meal, such as a regular meal, a vegetarian, or a diabetic
meal. Id. at 2. Cink further affirms that
Aramark's services are subject to the oversight of the
Criminal Detention Facilities Review Committee of the
Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.
Complaint includes allegations about the inadequacy of the
food served at the WCDC. He testified in his deposition that
he weighed 244 pounds when booked into the WCDC on June 24,
2016. See Doc. 90-1, p. 9. He asserted that
approximately a month and a half later, he was down to 234
pounds,  and he also believed he had lost muscle
mass. Id. at 9-10. He stated during his
deposition on August 19, 2016, that his weight had been
measured the previous day, and he had weighed 234 pounds.
Id. at 9. Priorto his incarceration, Plaintiff
believed he was eating more than 3, 000 calories per day.
Id. at 21. In his opinion, 2, 500 calories per day
is the "minimum ... for a person to survive."
also testified in his deposition that on commissary-order
days, inmates usually received less food on their meal
trays-for example, just one sandwich instead of two.
Id. at 10. Plaintiff believed that WCDC/Aramark
placed less food on the trays intentionally, in order to
induce inmates to order more commissary products.
Id. Inmates were permitted to order from the
commissary only one day per week, usually on Saturdays, and
inmates would receive their commissary orders on Mondays.
Id. Plaintiff testified that he would typically
order ramen noodles from the commissary because they
"had some type of substance" to them. Id.
contends the Aramark and Washington County Defendants
violated the ADTPA based on the high prices they charged for
commissary items. He believes Defendants engage in price
gouging. He also contends the food portions at the ADC are
"much larger" than at the WCDC. Id.
According to Plaintiff, the inmates at the WCDC were
constantly hungry or "starving at all times, because we
are not fed good." (Doc. 90-1, p. 11); see also
Doc. 99-5, p. 20. Plaintiff testified that being hungry
causes one to be more irritable and aggressive and that
hunger was "the worst torture a person can go through in
most cases." (Doc. 90-1, p. 16).
agreed that WCDC inmates receive three meals a day, with a
typical breakfast consisting of a biscuit and gravy, oatmeal
or grits, eggs, and milk or juice. Id. at 11.
Plaintiff described a typical lunch tray as consisting of two
sandwiches, some iceberg lettuce and cake or a cookie. He
described dinner trays as typically including some rice or
"meat-type deal, " iceberg lettuce, a vegetable
such as carrots or green beans, and cake or a cookie.
Id. at 12. But on commissary-order days, Plaintiff
testified that the dinner tray was usually missing one
item-typically the vegetable. Id.
from his complaints about the amount of food served,
Plaintiff also takes issue with how the food trays were
transported from the kitchen to the pods for service. Once
the meals are prepared, they are transported by trustees to
the pods and then served. (Doc. 90-3, p. 2). Meals are served
in covered trays, stacked in an interlocking fashion on a
rolling cart. (Doc. 90-2, p. 2). Plaintiff believes the food
should be transported in a "hot box" instead, so
that the meals stay warmer. He filed grievances on several
occasions, complaining that the food trays were placed in the
hallways between the pods and then left there for sometimes
more than an hour before service. He contends that this
food-service procedure is unsanitary and unsafe for the
to Plaintiff's official-capacity claims, he believes that
since Sheriff Helder was in charge of the facility, he had
the ability to step in and order that detainees be provided
with more food. Plaintiff admits that he never spoke with
Sheriff Helder about the food, though. According to Sheriff
Helder's affidavit, he relies upon his "chain of
command" to administer the various operations of the
jail, pursuant to the WCDC's implemented policies and
procedures. See Doc. 99-8, p. 1. Sheriff Helder
indicates that, generally, he is "not personally
involved unless the problem is systemic or not capable of
resolution by [his] staff." Id. at 1-2. With
respect to Plaintiff, Sheriff Helder is not particularly
surprised that he had no personal knowledge of any of the
incidents Plaintiff complained of in this case, since
"Plaintiff's allegations deal with day to day
decisions and operations in the Detention Center, " and
Sheriff Helder is not personally involved in those decisions.
Id. at 2.
also admits that he never spoke directly with Major Denzer,
the Jail Administrator, with regard to his requests and
grievances-though Plaintiff did address at least some of
those written requests and grievances directly to Major
Denzer. Major Denzer confirms in his affidavit that the
"Detention Division operates in a chain of command
whereby most direct contact with detainees occurs with pod
deputies who are tasked with carrying out the routine, day to
day operations such as meal delivery, safety functions during
transport or medication distribution, or oversight of daily
clean up of the facility." (Doc. 99-9, p. 1). The
deputies are supervised by a number of persons, including a
corporal, sergeant, and one or more lieutenants. Major Denzer
further maintains that he is not involved in routine aspects
of daily operation of the jail, and he was not familiar with
Plaintiff before he filed the instant case. Id. at
Sergeants Morse, Fuller, Stanton, and Arnold, as well as
Lieutenant Foster, they are the WCDC staff members who
usually responded in writing to Plaintiff's requests and
grievances. With that said, however, Plaintiff admits that
these officers never spoke to him in person about his
grievances about food quantity or quality, and they were
never present when Plaintiff was served his meals.
See Doc. 90-1, p. 12.
on, Plaintiffs next claim is that he was denied adequate
access to a law library. He testified that the WCDC requires
inmates to obtain a court order to be transported to a
library off site, as the facility does not have its own
library. In one of his grievances, Plaintiff indicated that
he could not obtain a "court order for such a thing
because I couldn[']t talk to [the] judge or public
defender at my court hearing. My requests to both offices
have gone ignored for a month." (Doc. 99-5, p. 21). He
was told by WCDC officials that a court order was necessary
to be transported off site, and that he was free to request
legal assistance by filling out a form that could be faxed to
the public defenders' office. Id. Plaintiff
believed that the public defender could not help him with his
civil rights cases or with filing a motion under Rule 37 of
the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure for ineffective
assistance of counsel-particularly when Plaintiff was making
the argument that a public defender had provided him
ineffective assistance. Id.
next claim concerns the amount of paper he was given at the
WCDC. When Plaintiff would ask for pieces of paper and
envelopes for his legal materials, he was told he had to
choose between using the paper for legal work and writing
letters home. Plaintiff testified in his deposition that he
ran out of paper when doing his legal work. (Doc. 90-1, pp.
24-25). He borrowed paper from other inmates. Id. He
claims that he did not know anything about, deadlines in his
various cases and was not "made aware" of any
deadlines he had missed. Id. at 26. Further, he
contends that a civil rights case he filed in this District,
Emery v. Hyslip, 5:16-CV-05277, was ultimately
dismissed because of his lack of knowledge of the law and his
lack of resources to pursue claims against certain types of
defendants. He believes that his lack of access to legal
resources also hampered his ability to address a child
custody case he had pending against him, and a civil
forfeiture complaint. See Doc. 123, p. 8.
respect to the WCDC's policy on providing paper, Corporal
Mulvaney affirms that inmates are provided with "paper,
a pencil, and two free envelopes per week" and that
"[n]on-indigent inmates may purchase additional writing
materials and postage paid envelopes from commissary."
(Doc. 99-1, p. 5). According to the WCDC inmate handbook,
detainees are provided "postage, envelopes, and paperfor
communication with the courts, and two envelopes and ten
sheets of paper per week for correspondence of a personal
nature." (Doc. 101-1, p. 23).
next maintains that the grievance procedure was inadequate.
First, he contends his rights were violated by the limit
placed on the number of grievances/requests a detainee could
have "open" on the kiosk at any one time. (Doc.
99-5, p. 18). He argues that his access to the grievance
system was being hindered by jail staff not closing his
previous grievances. Id. He believes some grievances
were left open for days, and because of this, jail staff were
"blocking my access to the courts and my right to due
process." Id. Next, he contends that he
received inadequate or no responses to some of his
grievances. He believed that appealing grievances was
useless, and that grievances were not passed up the chain of
command, as he expected them to be.
WCDC grievance policy provides that "[a] grievance shall
be made by utilizing the kiosk provided in the
cellblock." (Doc. 100-1, p. 9). According to Corporal
Mulvaney, the "kiosk system allows a detainee to have up
to three open matters at once." (Doc. 99-1, p. 4).
Corporal Mulvaney explains in his affidavit that "[t]his
is because of the limitations on the system and to prevent
abuse by detainees." Id. However, he notes that
detainees "have regular contact with deputies" and
if the "detainee had too many open matters in the
electronic system, the detainee may address the problem to a
Deputy directly." Id. Further, if the kiosk is
"down or unavailable, " paper grievances are
available. Id. at 4-5.
next claim is that he was being denied newspapers, magazines,
and meaningful access to news media while in the WCDC. He
claims that WCDC staff played the radio, but the broadcast
was either music or "campaign radio" with no local,
state, or world news. (Doc. 90-1, p. 29). Plaintiff indicated
that the radio stations only played political news concerning
the 2016 Presidential race, and this news was meaningless to
him as he could not vote in the election anyway. (Doc. 99-5,
p. 22). He claimed he had not seen or heard "anything
about local, state, country, or world news since" he had
been at the WCDC. Id. He noted that other detainees
in the WCDC, including trustees and inmates in the
work-release pod, were allowed to view the news on
television. Id. He also claimed that other county
jails and the ADC allow inmates to read newspapers.
Id. He maintains that when he complained about the
lack of news at the WCDC, he was told that the facility had
been assured by its legal advisor that the "decision to
discontinue newspapers in this facility and only use XM
Radio as its news source for its detainees ...
[was] within the law and [did] not violate anyone's
Mulvaney responds in his affidavit that the WCDC
"provides a subscription to several satellite radio
stations which are played during daytime hours and which are
intermittently changed." (Doc. 99-1, p. 6). He maintains
that these radio stations "provide discussions of news
topics and various viewpoints." He agrees, however, that
the WCDC discontinued the practice of providing newspapers to
the general population, allegedly "[b]ecause of constant
problems with damage caused by inmates hoarding newspapers,
fighting over them, or using newspapers to clog toilets and
start fires . . . ." Id.
next claim concerns the housing classification he was
assigned at the WCDC. Plaintiff testified that he was housed
on "A side" with all the violent offenders, even
though he had never been charged with a violent offense.
(Doc. 90-1, p. 32).
he did not report any threats to his safety, Plaintiff
indicated he had asked to be moved "many times to B side
where I feel like I'm supposed to be at because I'm
not a violent offender." Id. at 33. While he
could not point to any specific incident, Plaintiff indicated
he was sure he had been threatened at some point by other
inmates. Id. He testified that "tensions are
high in these pods at all times . . . ." Id.
also testified that he felt that A side was the
"punishment pod, " since inmates on B side were
allowed access to their personal property and were able to
get on their bunks during the day, but A side inmates were
denied such privileges. Plaintiff does not know who
determined his classification, but he pointed out that he had
never had a disciplinary incident at the jail or been
involved in any sort of altercation. Id. at 34. On
July 11, 2016, when Plaintiff requested in a written
grievance to know his "custody score" and
complained that he wished to be housed in "B side,
" Corporal Caudle's written response was that
Plaintiff had been assigned to A side because he was a
"medium or maximum, " and that "points
don't matter." (Doc. 99-5, p. 13). When Plaintiff
continued to question his classification status, he was in
formed in writing on July 13, 2016, by Lieutenant Foster,
that designations were based on:
an objective classification system which is in accordance
with our policy and procedure which is in compliance with
State and Federal Law. You initial classification is based
upon you[r] criminal history and your curent criminal charge
and a few other factors. Because of the classification system
you have the opportunity to potentially improve your
classification based upon your behavior while in this
Id. at 15.
was, in fact, involved in a physical altercation with other
inmates on August 20, 2016, after which he was charged with
"behavior which is aggressive or disruptive to the
facility" and "provoking or agitating a
fight." See Doc. 102-10. In the written
description of the incident, it appears Plaintiff was
involved in a fight with four other inmates. Two of the
inmates received injuries that required treatment at the
nurses' station, but Plaintiff was not among the injured.
Just prior to this fight, on February 16, 2016, his status
had been officially changed to "minimum" security.
See Doc. 102-7, p. 1. He believes prior to February
16, he was misclassified as a "medium" or
"high" security inmate and assigned to A side.
to Corporal Mulvaney's affidavit supplied in response to
Plaintiffs contentions, the inmate classification system
"considers factors such as a detainee's criminal
history and pending charges and provides a guideline for
placement of the detainee." (Doc. 99-1, p. 5). The staff
also considers whether there is "available space"
and whether "any persons ... are known as a threat to or
threatened by the detainee" Id. Corporal
Mulvaney indicates that A side is generally reserved for
detainees on administrative or disciplinary segregation or
those classified as "high or medium-high risk
inmates." Id. at 6. He explains that B side is
generally reserved for "low to low-medium risk
inmates" and trustees. Id.
next claim is that he was denied adequate medical care while
in the WCDC. According to WCDC policy, emergency medical
services are available 24 hours a day. (Doc. 99-1, p. 2).
"Officers are trained to respond to medical emergencies
and may provide temporary lifesaving care while [emergency
medical services] or other medical personnel are in
route." Id. Since January 1, 2016, Dr. Karas
has served as the jail's doctor, and Karas Correctional
Health has provided all medical care pursuant to a contract
with Washington County. Id. at 3. Detainees are
instructed to submit medical complaints via an electronic
kiosk, and the requests are then reviewed by the medical
staff. According to Corporal Mulvaney, the WCDC's policy
is that "[a]ll matters of judgment regarding health
services are made within the sole province of the contract
medical staff, " and "[a]ll decisions regarding
medications, medical testing, or medical treatment are left
to the professional medical judgment of the physician at the
detention facility." (Doc. 99-1, p. 3) (emphasis
claims that Dr. Karas and his medical staff provided
substandard medical care with respect to Plaintiffs
withdrawal and detoxification from methamphetamine, which
occurred when he first arrived at the WCDC. Plaintiff also
takes issue with the way the medical Defendants administered
his blood pressure medications. Plaintiff claims he was
diagnosed with high blood pressure during a prior
incarceration in the ADC. Following his release, he visited a
private doctor and was placed on the drug Amlodipine. He
testified in his deposition that he continued having problems
with blood pressure, and his doctor increased his dosage of
Amlodipine and added a prescription for the drug Lisinopril.
After that, his private doctor added the drug Minoxidil, as
Plaintiff's blood pressure was still high. Plaintiff
testified that for his first week or week-and-a-half at the
WCDC, he was not given any blood pressure medication.
See Doc. 90-1, p. 40. He contends that he provided
medical staff with the name of his pharmacy so that they
could verify the blood pressure medications he was taking.
Id. at 41.
to jail medical records, medical staff did verify
Plaintiff's prescriptions for Amlodipine, Lisinopril, and
Minoxidil on June 24, 2016-the day he was booked into the
jail. Plaintiff's private physician, Dr. House, had
prescribed all three medications, and Plaintiff last filled
them on June 8, 2016. (Doc. 99-3, p. 5). Plaintiff was then
approved by the jail doctor to receive both Amlodipine and
Lisinopril on June 24, and Plaintiff started receiving them
on June 25, 2016. Id. at 8-10. The medication
administration records indicate Plaintiff was first given
Amlodipine and Lisinopril on June 25, 2016. Id. at
57. The records further indicate that he refused these
medications on June 28, June 29-30, July 6-7, July 13, and
July 28, 2016. Id. at 54-56. In addition to
Amlodipine and Lisinopril, on July 8, 2016, Plaintiff began
receiving Naproxen, an anti-inflammatory painkiller, and on
July 27, 2016, he began receiving a nightly dose of
Melatonin. Id. at 8, 53.
disputes that he was given his blood pressure medication
beginning on June 25, despite what the medical logs indicate.
See Doc. 90-1, p. 42. He claims instead that he had
to "argue every day" with the nursing staff for the
first week to week-and-a-half he was incarcerated at the WCDC
in order to receive his pills. Id. He further claims
that he did not refuse medication on the dates indicated in
the logs, but that his medication was often not on the pill
cart. Id. at 41, 44. Plaintiff stated that on one
occasion, a nurse, whose name he does not recall, indicated
that she knew Plaintiff had not been refusing his medication
and that he should file a grievance. Id. at 41.
Plaintiff testified that after this interaction with the
nurse, he had no further problems getting his blood pressure
medication. Id. at 44.
medical records confirm that on June 24, 2016, the day
Plaintiff was booked, he submitted a sick-call request
regarding, among other things, not having received his blood
pressure medications yet. (Doc. 99-3, p. 10). He was added to
the sick-call list on June 27, 2016. Id. But on June
28, 2016, medical staff made a notation in the logs that
Plaintiff would not being seen during sick call that day
because the medications he requested were "on med
his complaint about inadequate medical care given during his
detoxification from methamphetamine, Plaintiff testified he
was addicted to methamphetamine and would also take
Hydrocodone or Percocet. He confirmed that when he was booked
into the WCDC, he had been on methamphetamine and opiates for
about a year and a half, and that this long period of
addiction made his detox period worse than on previous
occasions. He testified that he began sweating, felt sick,
vomited, had diarrhea, did notfeel like eating, was delirious
a few times, hallucinated a couple of times, and felt his
joints had "locked up." (Doc. 90-1, pp. 45-46, 52).
He also told staff that he felt like he was dying and would
often sleep on the concrete floor of the pod area, having
been administered the drug Naproxen for the "shakes and
pain." Id. at 42. Instead of being locked out
of his jail cell, he would have preferred to stay in his cell
while going through detox so he could "rest and sleep
and get [his] strength back up." Id. at 50.
medical records indicate that Plaintiff was placed on a
"detox screen" for five days beginning on June 24,
2016. (Doc. 99-3, p. 9). On June 24, Plaintiff submitted a
sick call request complaining that he had neck, back, knee,
and shoulder problems, and that he wanted to be able to lie
down when he was hurting. Id. at 10. He said he had
so many injury issues that "there is no way I can sit at
a table or stand around all day." Id. He did
not mention in the grievance any problems associated with
detoxifying from methamphetamine.
also testified that he had contact with medical staff twice a
day during pill call. During those times, the nurse would
merely ask what his symptoms were. Plaintiff felt he should
have also been seen by a doctor and had his blood pressure
checked on a regular basis. However, he testified that as of
the date of his ...