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Smart v. The Dept. of Corrections For Queen Anne's County

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 19, 2019

SALAHUDDIN F. SMART, Plaintiff,
v.
THE DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS FOR QUEEN ANNE'S COUNTY, ARAMARK, INC., C.P.O. MEARS and DIRECTOR/WARDEN LAMONTE E. COOKE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THEODORE D. CHUANG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Salahuddin Smart has filed a Complaint alleging that he was denied a kosher diet and, on one occasion, was denied a shower while he was a pretrial detainee at Queen Anne's County Detention Center in Centreville, Maryland. Defendants Director/Warden Lamonte E. Cooke, C.P.O. Mears, and the Department of Corrections for Queen Anne's County ("the DOC") (collectively, "the Correctional Defendants") have filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgmen.. Defendant Aramark, Inc. ("Aramark") has filed a Motion to Dismiss. Having reviewed the Complaint and submitted materials, the Court finds that no hearing is necessary. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, the Correctional Defendants' Motion, construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment, and Aramark's Motion to Dismiss, will be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         On November 22, 2017, while confined at Queen Anne's County Detention Center ("QACDC") as a pretrial detainee, Smart requested a kosher diet in accordance with his religious beliefs. Warden Cooke approved this request.

         On November 27, 2017, Smart filed the instant Complaint in which he asserted that:

Since my arrival each meal has not been kosher at all[;] in totality only the fruits have been kosher the meats are the same meats served to entire facility. Liquids as well. To disguise as kosher Aramark writes on containers kosher yet none of the meals since my confinement have met kosher requirements. Aramark could have . . . substituted by giving me a vegetarian diet yet it choose[s] to serve turkey, balon[e]y, salami, etc. .. . Th[e]n I'm ignored when I complain about this non[-] kosher diet & unknown meat.

Compl. at 6, ECF NO.1. Smart asserted that the lack of a genuine kosher diet caused him to go hungry and has deprived him of his constitutional rights. Smart's Complaint also alleged that "C.P.O. Mears refuse me a shower solely to discipline without any legal basis," though he provides no additional details about this incident. Id. Smart further claimed that he "wrote numerous grievance[s] and request form[s] to corroborate during discovery. Th[eir] failure to answer[] as stated in the . . . inmate handbook is telling!!" Id. (capitalization altered). Smart did not provide any details about these grievances. He requested monetary damages and injunctive relief in the form of kosher meals.

         On November 28, 2017, the Warden issued a notice stating that "until the clearance for the kosher meal are approved we will treat all kosher meals as lacto vegetarian diet no meats." Aramark Mot. Dismiss Ex. 5, ECF No. 23-7. On November 29, 207, Lavonne Carpenter, the Food Services Manager at QACDC and an employee of Aramark, placed an order with Single Source, a food service distribution company, for delivery of kosher meals and other food to QACDC. The food order was scheduled to arrive at QACDC on December 6, 2017.

         At some point between December 1 and December 4, 2017, Smart submitted an Inmate Grievance/Complaint Form addressed to the Aramark Food Supplier Supervisor, but which was first reviewed by Warden Cooke on December 4, 2017. Smart's grievance provided the name and phone number of a rabbi and stated:

Inquire whether your substitute for kosher amounts to kosher meals? Ask if the serving(s] are kosher since I've been approved of the special diet? Ask if your food serving outside fruit products, potatoes, bald eggs, amount to a kosher diet. I specifically told Warden have vegetarian diet meet kosher diet until you can receive kosher meal from New York State.

         Aramark Mot. Dismiss Ex. 7, ECF No. 23-9. After reviewing the grievance, Warden Cooke contacted Carpenter on December 4, 2017. The grievance form states that Carpenter reported that kosher meals had been ordered and would be arriving later the same week. On December 20, 2017, Smart was transferred out of QACDC.

         DISCUSSION

         In their Motion, the Correctional Defendants argue that the DOC is not an entity capable of being sued, that Smart has failed to allege facts demonstrating that Warden Cooke is liable for the alleged harms, and that Mears's act of denying Smart a shower on a single occasion does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation. In its Motion, Aramark seeks dismissal of the claims against it on the grounds that Smart's claim is moot because he has been transferred to another facility, that his claim fails because Aramark is not a state actor, and that Smart failed to exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit. Although notified of his right to respond, Smart did not file a memorandum in opposition to either Motion.

         I. ...


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