Lezine v. IDOC et al
ORDER REFERRING CASE to Magistrate Judge Stephen C. Williams. Signed by Chief Judge Michael J. Reagan on 3/8/2018. (tjk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
JAMES LEZINE, # N-71574,
ILLINOIS DEPT. of CORRECTIONS,
and KAREN JAIMET,
Case No. 18-cv-505-MJR
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
REAGAN, Chief District Judge:
Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”),
has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He raises claims under
the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12132, and the Rehabilitation Act
(“RA”), 29 U.S.C. § 794, as well as a constitutional claim for deliberate indifference to a serious
medical condition. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Under § 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss any portion of the
Complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief.
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
An action or claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.”
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers
to a claim that “no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.” Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d
1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted
if it does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of entitlement to relief must
cross “the line between possibility and plausibility.” Id. at 557. Conversely, a complaint is
plausible on its face “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true,
see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so
sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff’s claim. Brooks v.
Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts “should not accept as adequate
abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements.” Id. At
the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally
construed. See Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011); Rodriguez v. Plymouth
Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).
Applying these standards, the Court finds that some of Plaintiff’s claims survive
threshold review under § 1915A.
Plaintiff suffered a stroke in May 2017, and is now unable to use his right arm or right
leg. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-5). He was transferred to Pinckneyville for medical assistance. Unnamed
medical personnel employed by the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) recognized that
Plaintiff required special medical and personal assistance to meet his hygiene, medical, and
safety needs, which include an adequate wheelchair; an accessible sink, bed, and call button;
assistance with bathing, changing diapers, getting in and out of bed; and physical therapy. (Doc.
1, p. 5). However, Pinckneyville officials have failed to provide Plaintiff with a wheelchair that
meets his needs, and his cell does not have an accessible sink, medical call button, or a proper
bed for his condition.
Plaintiff fell on February 22, 2018, when he was bathing without
Plaintiff is unable to write, and has been denied assistance to file a grievance. He has
made “numerous oral attempts” to alert Defendants to his medical issues and the inadequacies in
He includes an affidavit from the fellow inmate (Williams) who prepared his
Complaint. (Doc. 1, pp. 7-8).
Williams avers that Plaintiff has severe memory loss, which
prevents him from recalling conversations or events within a minute of their occurrence, but that
he understands what is going on or being said in the moment. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Williams describes
an incident he witnessed, when Plaintiff did not realize he needed to clean feces off his front and
back area after taking off his diaper, and a nurse refused to wash or assist him. Id. He must be
reminded to clean himself each time he changes his diaper. Williams, who is also wheelchairbound, explains that Plaintiff’s wheelchair does not fit his body and is not designed for constant
use. Plaintiff has fallen numerous times. (Doc. 1, p. 8). His February 22, 2018, fall occurred in
a bathing area that was not accessible to wheelchairs, while Plaintiff was not being monitored.
Id. Williams, who appears to have been Plaintiff’s cellmate, writes that he was being moved
away from Plaintiff on February 26, 2018. Id.
Plaintiff names as Defendants the IDOC, and Director Baldwin and Warden Jaimet in
their official capacities (he has not sued Baldwin or Jaimet in their individual capacities). He
seeks damages and injunctive relief. (Doc. 1, p. 6).
In addition to the Complaint, Plaintiff has filed a motion for injunction. (Doc. 2). The
motion repeats much of the information in the Complaint, highlighting Plaintiff’s inability to
care for himself due to his extreme memory loss and physical impairments. He needs daily
assistance to maintain his personal hygiene as well as physical safety. He needs a proper
wheelchair and placement in a cell with an accessible sink, bed, and bathing facilities, as well as
physical therapy and other accommodations for his medical needs. (Doc. 2).
Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro
se action into the following counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all
future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The
designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit. Any other claim that
is mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed
Count 1: Claim for injunctive relief under the Americans with Disabilities Act
and Rehabilitation Act to meet Plaintiff’s disability-related needs, and damages
claim under the Rehabilitation Act;
Count 2: Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff’s
medical and disability-related needs.
Count 1 shall proceed for further review. Count 2 shall be dismissed at this time without
prejudice, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
Count 1 – ADA and RA
Title II of the ADA prohibits public entities from denying qualified individuals with
disabilities the opportunity to participate in the services, programs, or activities of the public
entity because of their disabilities, and prohibits discrimination against disabled individuals by a
public entity. 42 U.S.C. § 12132. The Supreme Court has held that Title II of the ADA applies
to prisons. See Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections v. Yeskey, 524 U.S. 206 (1998). An inmate
may sue state officials in their official capacity for prospective injunctive relief under Title II.
Brueggeman ex rel. Brueggeman v. Blagojevich, 324 F.3d 906, 912 (7th Cir. 2003).
To successfully assert a claim under Title II, a plaintiff must establish three elements:
“(1) that he . . . has a qualifying disability; (2) that he . . . is being denied the
benefits of services, programs, or activities for which the public entity is
responsible, or is otherwise discriminated against by the public entity; and (3) that
such discrimination is by reason of his . . . disability.”
Culvahouse v. City of LaPorte, 679 F. Supp. 2d 931, 937 (N.D. Ind. 2009) (citing Frame v. City
of Arlington, 575 F.3d 432, 435 (5th Cir. 2009)) (quotation marks omitted); Love v. Westville
Corr. Ctr., 103 F.3d 558, 560 (7th Cir. 1996). As to the second element, a plaintiff “may
establish discrimination by presenting evidence that the defendant intentionally acted on the
basis of the disability, the defendant refused to provide a reasonable modification, or the
defendant’s denial of benefits disproportionately impacts disabled people.” Culvahouse, 679 F.
Supp. at 937 (relying upon Washington v. Ind. High Sch. Athletic Ass’n, Inc., 181 F.3d 840, 847
(7th Cir. 1999)).
The Rehabilitation Act also applies to prisons, because they receive federal funds. See
Cutter v. Wilkinson, 544 U.S. 709, 716 n. 4, (2005); Gratzl v. Office of Chief Judges, 601 F.3d
674, 678 (7th Cir.2010). To state a claim under the RA, a plaintiff must allege that he is a
qualified person with a disability, and that the IDOC denied him access to a program or activity
because of his disability. See Jaros v. Illinois Dept. of Corrections, 684 F.3d 667, 672 (7th Cir.
Both the ADA and the RA provide for injunctive relief against an agency found to be in
violation of the statute. A successful RA claim may result in compensatory or nominal damages,
but punitive damages are not available under the RA. See Barnes v. Gorman, 536 U.S. 181, 189,
(2002) (punitive damages may not be awarded in private suits brought under § 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act); Stanley v. Litscher, 213 F.3d 340, 344 (7th Cir. 2000) (Illinois has waived its
immunity from damage suits under the RA as a condition of receiving federal funds). Under the
ADA, damages may be available for claims that independently violate the Constitution. United
States v. Georgia, 546 U.S. 151, 159 (2006) (Title II abrogates state sovereign immunity for
“conduct that actually violates the Fourteenth Amendment”) (emphasis in original); Toeller v.
Wis. Dep’t of Corr., 461 F.3d 871, 874 (7th Cir. 2006).
Plaintiff’s Complaint has sufficiently alleged that he is a qualified person with a disability
due to his physical impairment affecting his right arm and leg, and his memory/cognitive
impairments, under both the ADA and RA. Further, he has alleged that Defendants have failed
to provide him with necessary accommodations for him to maintain his personal hygiene or to
use the bathing facilities, sink, bed, and other features of his cell. Accordingly, his claims in
Count 1 for injunctive relief under the ADA and RA may proceed, as may his claims for
damages under the RA. Count 1 shall proceed against the IDOC, Director Baldwin in his official
capacity, and Warden Jaimet in her official capacity.
Dismissal of Count 2 – Deliberate Indifference to Serious Medical Needs
Based on the facts related in the Complaint, some individual medical providers may have
been deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff’s medical needs for physical therapy, personal hygiene
assistance, a proper wheelchair, or other matters. However, he fails to identify any individuals
who were made aware of his medical and disability-related needs, yet failed to take action to
mitigate the risk to Plaintiff’s health, and he did not name any such individuals as Defendants.
In order to state an Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference to a serious
medical need, an inmate must show that he (1) suffered from an objectively serious medical
condition; and (2) that the defendant was deliberately indifferent to a risk of serious harm from
that condition. An objectively serious condition includes an ailment that significantly affects an
individual’s daily activities or which involves chronic and substantial pain. Gutierrez v. Peters,
111 F.3d 1364, 1373 (7th Cir. 1997). Plaintiff’s physical and cognitive impairments demonstrate
that he has objectively serious medical conditions.
“Deliberate indifference is proven by demonstrating that a prison official knows of a
substantial risk of harm to an inmate and either acts or fails to act in disregard of that risk.”
Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d 859, 865 (7th Cir. 2012) (internal citations and quotations omitted).
See also Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 842 (1994); Perez v. Fenoglio, 792 F.3d 768, 777-78
(7th Cir. 2015). The Eighth Amendment does not give prisoners entitlement to “demand specific
care” or “the best care possible,” but only requires “reasonable measures to meet a substantial
risk of serious harm.”
Forbes v. Edgar, 112 F.3d 262, 267 (7th Cir. 1997).
defendant’s inadvertent error, negligence or even ordinary malpractice is insufficient to rise to
the level of an Eighth Amendment constitutional violation. See Duckworth v. Ahmad, 532 F.3d
675, 679 (7th Cir. 2008). This second component is not addressed in Plaintiff’s Complaint.
It is not sufficient to sue a state official in her official capacity for unconstitutional
deliberate indifference; a Defendant must be named in his or her individual/personal capacity.
Section 1983 creates a cause of action based on personal liability and predicated upon fault; thus,
“to be liable under § 1983, the individual defendant must have caused or participated in a
constitutional deprivation.” Pepper v. Village of Oak Park, 430 F.3d 805, 810 (7th Cir. 2005)
(internal quotations and citations omitted). In order to state a claim against a Defendant, a
plaintiff must describe what each named Defendant did (or failed to do), that violated the
plaintiff’s constitutional rights. Neither the State of Illinois nor a state official acting in his/her
official capacity is a “person” that may be sued in a § 1983 civil rights action. Will v. Mich.
Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). The same is true of a state agency such as the
Because Plaintiff has not named any Defendant in his/her personal capacity, nor
described any person’s conduct that could give rise to liability for deliberate indifference to his
medical needs, Count 2 shall be dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted.
Plaintiff’s motions for injunctive relief (Doc. 2), and for recruitment of counsel (Doc. 3)
shall be referred to the United States Magistrate Judge for further consideration.
COUNT 2 is DISMISSED without prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted.
The Clerk of Court shall prepare for Defendants ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT of
CORRECTIONS, BALDWIN, and JAIMET: (1) Form 5 (Notice of a Lawsuit and Request to
Waive Service of a Summons), and (2) Form 6 (Waiver of Service of Summons). The Clerk is
DIRECTED to mail these forms, a copy of the Complaint, and this Memorandum and Order to
each Defendant’s place of employment as identified by Plaintiff. If a Defendant fails to sign and
return the Waiver of Service of Summons (Form 6) to the Clerk within 30 days from the date the
forms were sent, the Clerk shall take appropriate steps to effect formal service on that Defendant,
and the Court will require that Defendant to pay the full costs of formal service, to the extent
authorized by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
With respect to a Defendant who no longer can be found at the work address provided by
Plaintiff, the employer shall furnish the Clerk with the Defendant’s current work address, or, if
not known, the Defendant’s last-known address. This information shall be used only for sending
the forms as directed above or for formally effecting service. Any documentation of the address
shall be retained only by the Clerk. Address information shall not be maintained in the court file
or disclosed by the Clerk.
Defendants are ORDERED to timely file an appropriate responsive pleading to the
Complaint and shall not waive filing a reply pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g).
Pursuant to Local Rule 72.1(a)(2), this action is REFERRED to United States
Magistrate Judge Stephen C. Williams for further pre-trial proceedings, which shall include
determinations on the pending motions for injunctive relief (Doc. 2) and for recruitment of
counsel (Doc. 3).
Further, this entire matter shall be REFERRED to United States Magistrate Judge
Williams for disposition, pursuant to Local Rule 72.2(b)(2) and 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), if all parties
consent to such a referral.
If judgment is rendered against Plaintiff, and the judgment includes the payment of costs
under § 1915, Plaintiff will be required to pay the full amount of the costs, even if his application
to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(f)(2)(A).
Finally, Plaintiff is ADVISED that he is under a continuing obligation to keep the Clerk
of Court and each opposing party informed of any change in his address; the Court will not
independently investigate his whereabouts. This shall be done in writing and not later than 7
days after a transfer or other change in address occurs. Failure to comply with this order will
cause a delay in the transmission of court documents and may result in dismissal of this action
for want of prosecution. See FED. R. CIV. P. 41(b).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: March 8, 2018
s/ MICHAEL J. REAGAN
United States District Court
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