United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
ERIC J. BERK PLAINTIFF
SHERIFF SHAWN HOLLOWAY, Benton County, Arkansas; and TRINITY FOOD GROUP DEFENDANTS
OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Eric J. Berk filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§1983. He proceeds pro se and in forma
pauperis. The case is before the Court for preservice
screening under the provisions of the Prison Litigation
Reform Act ("PLRA"). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A, the Court has the obligation to screen any complaint
in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity
or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C.
to the allegations of the Complaint (Doc. 1), on January 10,
2018, inmates at the Benton County Detention Center
("BCDC") were served contaminated food causing
sickness throughout the jail. Plaintiff indicates 20-25% of
the jail became ill.
this time, Plaintiff was a trustee who worked in the kitchen.
Plaintiff states he was aware of what was going on with the
food service contractor, Trinity Food Group
("Trinity"), the Sheriff's Office employees,
the Health Department, and other Trinity employees who were
sent to the BCDC from other areas of the United States.
alleges that after supper on January 10, 2018, he began
having severe diarrhea that continued throughout the evening.
Later that night, he began vomiting. Plaintiff saw other
inmates exhibiting the same symptoms.
states he went back to work in the kitchen on January 11,
2018. He asserts that the kiosk used to place requests for
medical treatment was not working and remained inoperable
until January 15, 2018. Getting in to see the nurse was
difficult given the number of inmates who were sick. As he
could not see the nurse, Plaintiff went to work.
the trustees got to the kitchen, they learned of the large
number of inmates sick throughout the jail. Kitchen staff
stated that the inmates were sick with the flu. After
Plaintiff's shift was over, he asked a deputy on Pod-E if
he could go see the nurse. The deputy responded that the
nurse was too busy and that he was out of request forms.
Plaintiff alleges he continued to have diarrhea throughout
the day and could not hold any food down. Plaintiff indicates
the nurse did come to E-pod and took the temperature of
everyone in the pod. Plaintiff's temperature was 99°
and the nurse told him that he was fine.
January 12, 2018, Plaintiff states he went to work in the
kitchen. He alleges he was told 15% of the jail was ill with
diarrhea and vomiting-some to the extent of bleeding. The
kitchen trustees were asked throughout the day to make
thermoses of Gatorade for all the different pods to help with
the people who had become dehydrated.
January 15, 2018, Plaintiff alleges the Arkansas Health
Department came to do an inspection. The Health Department
performed a second inspection on January 22, 2018. Plaintiff
indicates the kitchen trustees were told there were new rules
for food handling, and trustees were to use them or be fired
as trustees. Over the next few days, Plaintiff states they
were told that the Health Department had found multiple
violations. According to Plaintiff, it was determined that
the food poisoning was due to the food having cooled for four
hours, giving bacteria time to develop.
point, Plaintiff indicates that Trinity called in its own
team of food safety controllers. The work of the trustees was
assessed, and they were taught new food handling methods. On
January 27, 2018, Plaintiff states that the trustees were
relieved of their duties without explanation.
makes no specific allegations against Sheriff Holloway. With
respect to Trinity, he alleges they allowed the food to cool
too long before it was served. He also alleges Trinity
attempted to cover-up the fact that food poisoning caused the
illness by stating the inmates had the flu. Finally, he
alleges that numerous violations were found by the Health
sues the Defendants in both their individual and official
capacities. As relief, he asks for compensatory damages and