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Manuel-Bey v. Phillips

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division

August 1, 2016

PAULA PHILLIPS, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on motions for summary judgment filed by Defendant Dana Degen (Doc. No. 54) and Defendants Paula Phillips and Thomas Shanefelter (Doc. No. 57). The motions are fully briefed and ready for disposition. For the following reasons, the motions will be granted.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Michael T. Manuel-Bey is a Missouri inmate who at all relevant times was confined at Southeast Correctional Center (“SECC”) in administrative segregation.[1] Defendant Dana Degen was a licensed practical nurse at SECC; Defendant Paula Phillips was the Warden at SECC; and Defendant Thomas Shanefelter was the Food Service Manager at SECC. Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, brings this action for monetary damages and declaratory and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleges he was diagnosed as lactose intolerant but that Defendants have deprived him of a medically necessary dairy-free diet in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Amended Complaint (“AC”), Doc. No. 3) Specifically, Plaintiff alleges Nurse Degen “[took] his lay in out of the computer, ” thereby “forcing [him] to eat unsafe foods.” (AC at 12-13) Plaintiff further alleges Food Service Manager Shanefelter refused to provide him with a medically adequate nutritious diet after being placed on a medical diet (AC at 5 ¶¶ 9, 27), and Warden Phillips instructed officials to give him inadequate food (AC at 5, ¶ 25).

         Defendants move for summary judgment on the grounds that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Phillips and Shanefelter also assert they are entitled to qualified immunity. Plaintiff opposes the motions, arguing that he has a constitutional right to be served a special diet as required by his health and that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. (Doc. Nos. 62, 64)

         II. Legal standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate when no genuine issue of material fact exists in the case and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The initial burden is placed on the moving party. City of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa v. Associated Elec. Co-op., Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273 (8th Cir. 1988). If the record demonstrates that no genuine issue of fact is in dispute, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party, who must set forth affirmative evidence and specific facts showing a genuine dispute on that issue. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). In determining whether summary judgment is appropriate in a particular case, the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Osborn v. E.F. Hutton & Co., Inc., 853 F.2d 616, 619 (8th Cir. 1988). Self-serving, conclusory statements without support are not sufficient to defeat summary judgment. Armour and Co., Inc. v. Inver Grove Heights, 2 F.3d 276, 279 (8th Cir. 1993).

         III. Facts[2]

         On February 25, 2014, Plaintiff submitted a medical services request complaining of stomach pain and diarrhea when eating dairy products. (Doc. No. 55-1 at ¶ 088; Doc. No. 62-1) He was seen by a nurse (not Degen) for those complaints on March 5, 2014 and referred to a medical services provider for further evaluation. (Degen SOF at ¶ 5) On or about March 10, 2014, Plaintiff saw Nina Hill, a Family Nurse Practitioner, Board Certified (FNP-BC), for complaints of lactose intolerance. (Degen SOF at ¶ 6; DSOF at ¶ 6) Based on Plaintiff’s reported intolerance, Hill ordered a lactose intolerance lay-in with milk and cheese restrictions on March 12, 2014. (Degen SOF at ¶ 8; DSOF at ¶ 9)

         SECC Standard Operating Procedure 10-1.8 establishes guidelines to ensure the planning and provision of nutritionally adequate meals in accordance with established standards. (DSOF at ¶ 10; SECC Standard Operating Procedure (“SOP”), Doc. No. 58-7 at 1) A registered dietician serves as food service coordinator and is responsible for establishing and maintaining appropriate standards for, inter alia, food preparation, menu planning, and nutritional analyses. (DSOF at ¶ 10; SOP at Sec. II. D.) Pursuant to SECC SOP, medical diets, such as renal, gluten-free and modified consistency diets, are available to any inmate who is provided with a prescription by a physician. (SOP at Sec. III. C.1.b.) Likewise, offenders with physician documented food allergies shall be given a substitute within the same food group and in the same portion as the food item to which they are allergic. (DSOF at ¶ 13; SOP at Sec. III. C.4) Lactose intolerance is not a food allergy. (Degen SOF at ¶ 10; DSOF at ¶ 14)

         Food Service Manager Shanefelter contacted Robin Norris, State Food Service Coordinator, regarding the preparation of Plaintiff’s food trays. (DSOF at ¶ 12) Shanefelter was instructed that if Plaintiff’s issue was a food intolerance as opposed to a food allergy, Plaintiff was to receive the same food tray that was provided to other administrative segregation inmates. (DSOF at ¶ 23) Shanefelter prepared and served Plaintiff’s meals according to the directions given him by Plaintiff’s medical providers and Ms. Norris and pursuant to SECC SOP 10-1.8. (DSOF at ¶¶ 15-16) Shanefelter did not refuse to provide Plaintiff with adequate meals. (DSOF at ¶ 22)

         Plaintiff filed several grievances from April 2014 through June 2014 complaining that he was not receiving food substitutions due to his lactose intolerance. (Doc. No. 62-1 at 9-15) Warden Phillips communicated with Shanefelter after receiving a grievance from Plaintiff. (DSOF at ¶ 24) On May 6, 2014, May 9, 2014, July 7, 2014, and July 17, 2014, Plaintiff received responses stating, in part:

Offenders that are intolerable are not to have any substitutions to there [sic] meal, they will be required to receive a regular tray. Being intolerable does NOT mean they can not [sic] have the item at all, it means that they can not [sic] have large amounts.
. . . . It is noted that intolerance is different than an allergy, and substitutions are not given per policy. Instead, food items which ...

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