United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
JERRY L. REID, Plaintiff,
SECRETARY, Department of Corrections, et al., Defendants.
D. MERRYDAY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
complaint alleges that the defendants violated his civil
rights by selling a product in the prison canteen that is
“demeaning, derogatory, or stereotypical.” (Doc.
1 at 8) An earlier order (Doc. 7) grants Reid leave to
proceed in forma pauperis. The Prisoner Litigation
Reform Act requires dismissal of an in forma
pauperis prisoner's case “if the allegation of
poverty is untrue” or if the case “is frivolous
or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).
Although the complaint is entitled to a generous
interpretation, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519
(1972) (per curiam), this pro se complaint
lacks merit under this standard.
sues the Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections,
Trinity Food Services (which offers items for sale through
the prison canteen), and both Norman D. Farnam and
“Straud, Willink, and Howard, LLC, ” the
distributors or manufacturers of instant coffee bags sold
under the label “Billy Brew.” Reid's
“Exhibit 1A” (Doc. 1-1 at 2) is a photocopy of
the package, which Reid describes as depicting a
“thuggish appearing [black] goat standing upright[, ]
flounting gold teeth[, ] sporting a gold chain with a
‘BG' medallion[, ] and sagging its pants.”
(Doc. 1 at 9) Reid represents that, after he filed a
grievance with prison officials, the packages were removed
from the canteen, but when later returned to the canteen, the
packages had been altered by someone who had used a black
marker to obliterate the center of the goat (from the
shoulders to the top of the pants) such that the gold chain
and top of the “sagging pants” were obscured.
“Exhibit 2B” (Doc. 1-2 at 2) is a photocopy of
the altered package. Reid again complained and, apparently
after the supply of bags was sold, the packaging was
completely re-designed to a “steaming coffee cup”
with the name “Billy Brew coffee” printed on the
side of the cup. “Exhibit 3C (Doc. 1-3 at 2) depicts
the re-designed package.
complains that the re-designed packaging still distresses him
because “Billy Brew coffee” reminds him of the
original, racially discriminatory packaging (Doc. 1 at 9):
[T]he fact that the name Billy Brew (which was obviously the
name of the discriminative goat which was attempting to
represent the black man of today) has not been removed from
the packaging, I am constantly reminded who “Billy
Brew” was initially representing, which has led me to
write grievance after grievance stating how this is actually
still affecting me. I am mentally distress[ed] and feeling
psychologically abused and the fact that racial hate groups
fed off of this corporate assault, it has caused for me to
suffer even more psychological damages in which case I am
seeing a psychologist at this institution that I'm
requests that the canteen “cease sell[ing] the coffee
product that bears the tainted name ‘Billy Brew' .
. . .” (Doc. 1 at 10)
representations and the attached exhibits (grievances and
photocopies of the packaging) show that the grievance process
succeeded in removing packaging from the canteen that Reid
viewed as racially offense. The re-designed packaging of a
steaming coffee cup includes no racially insensitive image.
Reid's request for this district court either to order a
change of the product name or to essentially control the
products sold in the prison canteen seeks relief beyond a
civil rights action. “Prison administrators . . .
should be accorded wide-ranging deference in the adoption and
execution of policies and practices that in their judgment
are needed to preserve internal order and discipline and to
maintain institutional security.” Bell v.
Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 547 (1979). See LaMarca v.
Turner, 995 F.2d 1526, 1543 (11th Cir. 1993), cert.
denied, 510 U.S. 1164 (1994). Although “not
insulat[ing] from review actions taken in bad faith or for no
legitimate purpose, ” Whitley v. Albers, 475
U.S. 312, 322 (1986), judicial deference requires that
neither judge nor jury freely substitute their judgment for a
prison official's considered decision. See Ort v.
White, 813 F.2d 318, 322 (1987). See cases collected at
Sims v. Mashburn, 25 F.3d 980, 986 (11th Cir. 1994).
which products to sell in a prison canteen is left to prison
officials to decide. Overton v. Bazzetta, 539 U.S.
126, 132 (2003) (“We must accord substantial deference
to the professional judgment of prison administrators, who
bear a significant responsibility for defining the legitimate
goals of a corrections system and for determining the most
appropriate means to accomplish them.”).
consequence, Reid fails to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted. Amendment of the action would prove futile
because Reid can state no valid Section 1983 claim for
relief. See Bryant v. Dupree, 252 F.3d 1161, 1163
(11th Cir. 2001) (“A district court need not, however,
allow an amendment (1) where there has been undue delay, bad
faith, dilatory motive, or repeated failure to cure
deficiencies by amendments previously allowed; (2) where
allowing amendment would cause undue prejudice to the
opposing party; or (3) where amendment would be
the civil rights complaint (Doc. 1) is DISMISSED. The clerk
must enter a judgment of dismissal ...