On October 15, 2007, an inmate in the South Dakota State Penitentiary filed this pro se lawsuit in the Circuit Court for the Second Judicial Circuit Minnehaha County, South Dakota,. The inmate sued the state of South Dakota and CBM Inc., the corporation contracted to provide inmate food. The inmate ...
read more >
On October 15, 2007, an inmate in the South Dakota State Penitentiary filed this pro se lawsuit in the Circuit Court for the Second Judicial Circuit Minnehaha County, South Dakota,. The inmate sued the state of South Dakota and CBM Inc., the corporation contracted to provide inmate food. The inmate claimed that CBM breached a state contract under which CBM agreed to provide food services to the State at Department of Correction (DOC) facilities. The inmate claimed this discrimination violated his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and § 1985 as a practitioner of Judaism to be adequately provided with kosher food. The plaintiff specifically claimed that in April of 2007, the Department of Corrections initiated a change in the meals they provided to inmates who ate kosher meals, such that the calorie count per meal dropped below the required minimum, and the food did not meet kosher standards.
On August 15, 2006, Judge Kathleen Caldwell for the Second Judicial Circuit dismissed the inmate's claim. The inmate appealed this decision and asked the court to review the dismissal of his claim and allow him an opportunity to amend his pleading.
On July 23, 2008, Justice Steven L. Zinter for the South Dakota Supreme Court held that the prisoner did not have standing to enforce the contract regarding meals, since he was not a third-party beneficiary to the contract. The Court further held that the discrimination based on age, sex, or religion does not provide a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, which is race-based and intended to allow all citizens the same right to enforce a contract as white citizens. Sisney v. State, 754 N.W.2d 639 (S.D. 2008). This affirmed the Second Judicial Circuit's ruling.
This inmate is sentenced to life in prison, and has filed a number of lawsuits pro se related to his Jewish religious practice.
In a parallel case decided by the South Dakota Supreme Court on the same day, July 23, 2008, the court ruled that the same inmate was a member of a class entitled to pre-packaged kosher meals, and entitled to the declaratory relief he sought. Sisney v. Reisch, 754 N.W.2d 813 (S.D. 2008). The plaintiff had also filed this lawsuit pro se, claiming that he was a third-party beneficiary of a settlement between the Department of Corrections and a former inmate that entitled the former inmate to pre-packaged, certified kosher meals. Similar to the parallel case, the plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court of South Dakota from a dismissal of his complaint in the Circuit Court Second Judicial Circuit Minnehaha County, South Dakota by Judge Kathleen Caldwell. Kate Craddock - 11/08/2015