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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  1. Great observation Smith. By my lights, speaking personally, they already have. They counted my religious perspective in a pro-life context as a symptom of mental illness and then violated all semblance of due process to banish me for life from the Indiana bar. The headline reveals the truth of the Hoosier elite's animus. Details here: Denied 2016 petition for cert (this time around): (“2016Pet”) Amicus brief 2016: (“2016Amici”) As many may recall, I was banned for five years for failing to "repent" of my religious views on life and the law when a bar examiner demanded it of me, resulting in a time out to reconsider my "clinging." The time out did not work, so now I am banned for life. Here is the five year time out order: Denied 2010 petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): (“2010Pet”) Read this quickly if you are going to read it, the elites will likely demand it be pulled down or pile comments on to bury it. (As they have buried me.)

  2. if the proabortion zealots and intolerant secularist anti-religious bigots keep on shutting down every hint of religious observance in american society, or attacking every ounce of respect that the state may have left for it, they may just break off their teeth.

  3. "drug dealers and traffickers need to be locked up". "we cannot afford just to continue to build prisons". "drug abuse is strangling many families and communities". "establishing more treatment and prevention programs will also be priorities". Seems to be what politicians have been saying for at least three decades now. If these are the most original thoughts these two have on the issues of drug trafficking and drug abuse, then we're no closer to solving the problem than we were back in the 90s when crack cocaine was the epidemic. We really need to begin demanding more original thought from those we elect to office. We also need to begin to accept that each of us is part of the solution to a problem that government cannot solve.

  4. What is with the bias exclusion of the only candidate that made sense, Rex Bell? The Democrat and Republican Party have created this problem, why on earth would anyone believe they are able to fix it without pushing government into matters it doesn't belong?

  5. This is what happens when daddy hands over a business to his moron son and thinks that everything will be ok. this bankruptcy is nothing more than Gary pulling the strings to never pay the creditors that he and his son have ripped off. they are scum and they know it.