ILNews

Judge: Prisoner suit can proceed

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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A federal judge has decided a state prison inmate can proceed with his lawsuit against a Department of Correction official and food service provider, claiming that both denied him enough food to stay healthy and went against a medically prescribed diet restricting onions.

U.S. District Judge William Lee in South Bend ordered March 11 that Joshua Ketchem be allowed to proceed with his suit filed in January 2007. The case is Joshua Ketchum v. J. David Donahue, et al., No. 3:07-CV-316 WL.

A prisoner at Westville Control Unit incarcerated on several felony convictions including attempted murder, Ketchem alleges that food service provider Aramark Food Service and Superintendent William Wilson have purposely influenced his meal plans as a form of cruel punishment. He claims that purposely reduced food portions have led to unhealthy weight loss and weakened his immune system, and that both defendants have intentionally served him food containing onions, which he is allergic to and a prison physician has ordered not be included in his diet.

Judge Lee allowed that component of the suit to proceed, citing caselaw that the Eighth Amendment requires prison officials to ensure inmates receive adequate food, clothing, and shelter.

But the judge dismissed that claim against DOC Commissioner J. David Donahue, who it determined had no personal knowledge or influence on what was happening. In his order this week, the judge also dismissed various other claims involving restricted access to prison disciplinary processes, and access to courts and "legal mail."

In his 13-page handwritten complaint originally filed in Marion Superior Court, then transferred to both of Indiana's federal District Courts, Ketchem requests injunctive relief, asks for $15,000 in damages, and $25,000 in punitive damages against each defendant.
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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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