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Purvis v. Aramark Correctional Services, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

August 13, 2019




         Plaintiff Willard Purvis, an inmate at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility (“Wabash Valley”), brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that he was denied a job in the prison kitchen and that this action was the result of retaliation against him in violation of his First Amendment rights. He sues Ms. Adams, Daniel Bedwell, Mr. Hollingsworth, and Amy Strader, food service employees who are employed by Aramark Correctional Services (“Aramark”). He also sues Aramark alleging that Aramark engaged in a policy or practice of retaliating against prisoners. The defendants have moved for summary judgment on Mr. Purvis's claims. Mr. Purvis has responded and the defendants have replied. For the following reasons, the motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate when the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A “material fact” is one that “might affect the outcome of the suit.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is genuine only “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. If no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party, then there is no “genuine” dispute. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).

         To survive a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party must set forth specific, admissible evidence showing that there is a material issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The Court views the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Barbera v. Pearson Education, Inc., 906 F.3d 621, 628 (7th Cir. 2018). The Court cannot weigh evidence or make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the fact-finder. Johnson v. Advocate Health & Hospitals Corp., 892 F.3d 887, 893 (7th Cir. 2018).

         II. Facts

         Daniel Bedwell is the Food Services Director for Aramark at Wabash Valley. Dkt. 35-1 ¶ 2. Mr. Bedwell oversees all aspects of food service at the Wabash Valley. Id. ¶ 3. The Indiana Department of Correction (“IDOC”) expects Mr. Bedwell to report any safety and security concerns he may have with regards to inmate work assignments to the Custody Department. Id. ¶ 6.

         Amy Strader is the lead supervisor for Aramark at Wabash Valley. Dkt. 35-2 ¶ 2. Ms. Strader's job duties include placing, evaluating, and training offenders at Wabash Valley. Ms. Strader has the authority to place inmates for positions in the kitchen at Wabash Valley. Id. ¶ 3.

         Teresa Booker held a position as a Sergeant in the Custody Department for the IDOC. Dkt. 35-1 ¶ 5.

         To obtain a position in the kitchen at Wabash Valley, an inmate must fill out a request for interview form. Dkt. 35-1 ¶ 4. This form is then passed on to the Custody Department. Id. The Custody Department investigates the inmate requesting the job assignment. Custody investigates any gang activity, behavioral issues, and security concerns regarding the inmate. Id. Once their investigation is complete the Custody Department then determines if the inmate should be sent for an interview. Id. Aramark is then sent a list of inmates available for interview. Id.

         On August 24, 2017, Ms. Booker from the Custody Department contacted Mr. Bedwell as part of her investigation of Mr. Purvis. Id. ¶ 5. Mr. Bedwell informed Ms. Booker that he believed Mr. Purvis presented a security risk to Mr. Bedwell and his employees because of a pending lawsuit that Mr. Purvis had against Bedwell and Aramark.[1] Id. ¶ 7. In his lawsuit Mr. Purvis claimed that he was allergic to mustard, and that Mr. Bedwell was denying him a diet free of mustard, which was causing him harm. Id. As a result of the allegations that Mr. Bedwell was causing harm to Mr. Purvis by denying him his requested diet, Mr. Bedwell states that he was concerned regarding his personal safety and the safety of his staff. Id.

         Mr. Purvis has never threatened Mr. Bedwell, any food service employee, or other prisoner working in the kitchen. Dkt. 47, at 9, ¶ 14, 15.

         After the August 24, 2017 email, Ms. Booker called Ms. Strader to discuss Mr. Purvis. During this conversation Ms. Booker told Ms. Strader that Mr. Purvis had a lawsuit pending against Aramark. This was first time Strader heard about any lawsuit between Aramark and Mr. Purvis. Dkt. 35-2. ¶ 5.

         Ms. Booker told Mr. Purvis that “she was informed that [Mr. Purvis] would not be hire[d] in the kitchen by numerous ARAMARK employees, including Mr. Bedwell, Mrs. Strader, Mr. ...

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