Inmates Cry Fowl over Frozen Chicken

A man who said he is the butt of prison jokes sues over frozen chicken

A Connecticut man is suing a company over frozen chicken he ate in prison because it gave him diarrhea, made him a laughing stock amongst other inmates and he can no longer eat chicken, he said. 

The suit, which seeks $100,000 in damages, was filed by Christopher Butts, of Killingly, Conn.; Henry Butson; and Corydon Cochran, who say they ate part of the chicken while serving prison terms at Lee Adjustment Facility, in Beattyville, Ky., where some Vermont inmates are sent because of crowding in Vermont jails. Each man acted as their own attorney for the proceeding, questioning the others in court. They appeared in court Thursday.

Butts he bit into a piece of microwaved Banquet chicken that contained pus, grain and corn after buying it at a prison store in November 2005, he told U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions.

Afterwards, Butts says he had diarrhea for a week, lost weight, was harassed by other inmates and can no longer eat chicken.

"I was sick. I don't know if it was psychosomatic. I had diarrhea, I just couldn't put anything in my mouth," said Butts, who served four years for a fatal drunken driving crash and is now on probation.

ConAgra attorney Gary Stewart suggested that Butts might have already been sick with the flu when he ate the alleged tainted chicken. He had visited the prison nurse two days before for other symptoms, Stewart said .

Stewart asked the judge to throw out the suit, saying Butts never proved the chicken was defective because he didn't have it tested.

Butson and Cochran, who acknowledged they didn't get sick from the chicken, are seeking emotional damages.

ConAgra spokeswoman Cindi Hartman testified that the company had received no complaints in 2005 like the one at issue.

Sessions didn't rule Thursday. He will later, he said.

"It's essentially a legal issue whether there's sufficient evidence to show ... that the object found in the chicken was defective."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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