SLOAN v. PLAINFIELD CORRECTIONAL FACILITY et al
ENTRY Dismissing Complaint and Directing Further Proceedings-The complaint, as presented, is dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to 28:1915A(b). The plaintiff shall have through April 21, 2017, in which to show cause why this action should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted (See Entry). Signed by Judge William T. Lawrence on 3/27/2017 (dist made)(CBU)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
PLAINFIELD CORRECTIONAL FACILITY,
MURAT POLAR M.D.,
Entry Dismissing Complaint and Directing Further Proceedings
Plaintiff Johnny Sloan, an inmate currently confined at the New Castle Correctional
Facility, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He names the following defendants: 1)
Plainfield Correctional Facility; 2) Dr. Murat Polar; and 3) Corizon Health (“Corizon”). Each
defendant is sued in his official and individual capacities. Mr. Sloan seeks compensatory and
punitive damages and injunctive relief.
Mr. Sloan has paid the initial partial filing fee. The complaint is now subject to the
screening requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). This statute directs that the court dismiss a
complaint or any claim within a complaint which “(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief.” Id.
The incidents alleged in the complaint occurred at the Plainfield Correctional Facility
(“Plainfield”). Mr. Sloan alleges that he arrived at Plainfield on January 17, 2015. He was in a
wheelchair “due to his disabilities and large size.” Complaint, Dkt. 1, p. 1. He was housed in the
North Dorm which has a 4X4 handicap shower stall. He was unable to maneuver, however, in
the limited space and it lacked handicap rails. He had to borrow another inmate’s cane to get in
and out of the shower. The shower had what he alleges to be an unstable, slick plastic chair.
On or about March 23, 2015, Mr. Sloan slipped and fell while attempting to get out of the
shower, injuring his shoulder and knee. He saw medical staff that day and was told to apply ice.
He received months of medical treatment for his shoulder, but on June 12, 2015, an MRI
allegedly showed a “tear on the rotor cuff.” Dkt. 1, p. 2. He alleges, however, that medical staff
told him there was no tear. He received no further treatment and remains unable to push himself
in his wheelchair due to pain and reduced mobility.
On March 23, 2015, after he fell, Mr. Sloan notified prison staff that the North Dorm
shower was not handicap accessible in that there were no handicap rails and no benches upon
which to sit. In mid-April 2015, Mr. Sloan was moved to East Dorm which had a shower
equipped with what he alleges was an unstable shower seat made from PVC piping and topped
with a toilet seat. In June 2015, Mr. Sloan was moved to J Dorm and the shower there had a step
into it, which made it unusable for him without assistance from other inmates. He alleges that
having non-handicap accessible showers was negligent and deliberately indifferent to his health
In addition, Mr. Sloan alleges that on “many occasions” he was denied time in the
recreation area because there was “no wheelchair ramp around the other side of there [sic] area
and hoped and requested prison staff would unlock it to allow him entry to the rec area.” Dkt. 1,
p. 2. He alleges this constituted the denial of basic human needs.
Mr. Sloan’s claims are each discussed below.
As noted, Mr. Sloan’s claims are brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Any claim against
Plainfield is dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because it
is a building, not a suable entity under section 1983.
Any claim for injunctive relief is denied as moot because Mr. Sloan is no longer
confined at Plainfield. Jaros v. Illinois Dept. of Corrections, 684 F.3d 667, 670 n. 3. (7th Cir.
Deprivation of Exercise Claim – Constitutional Claim
The Court acknowledges that exercise is “a necessary requirement for physical and
mental well-being,” however, “short-term denials of exercise may be inevitable in the prison
context and are not so detrimental as to constitute a constitutional deprivation.” Delaney v.
DeTella, 256 F.3d 679, 683-84 (7th Cir. 2001) (collecting cases). The complaint is not specific
enough to state a viable Eighth Amendment claim with regard to the alleged denial of time in the
recreation area. It is not alleged that Mr. Sloan was deprived of all exercise, inside and outdoors,
nor is it clear what “many occasions” means, or whether the denial of exercise was sporadic
depending on where prison staff were stationed at various times. “Allowing inmates only two
showers and four hours of outside recreation each week does not violate the Eighth
Amendment.” Vasquez v. Braemer, 586 Fed.Appx. 224, 228 (7th Cir. 2014) (collecting cases that
approved of three hours weekly of outdoor recreation when indoor exercise was allowed). In
addition, no defendant was alleged to have denied Mr. Sloan exercise. “Because vicarious
liability is inapplicable to . . . § 1983 suits, a plaintiff must plead that each Government-official
defendant, through the official’s own individual actions, has violated the Constitution.” Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009). For these reasons, the Eighth Amendment denial of exercise
claim is dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Lack of Accessible Showers – Constitutional Claim
To be unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment, deprivations must be “serious
deprivation[s] of basic human needs” and deprive the prisoner of “the minimal civilized measure
of life’s necessities.” Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981). “Life’s necessities include
shelter, heat, clothing, sanitation, and hygiene items.” Morris v. Ley, 331 Fed.Appx. 417, 420,
2009 WL 1784081 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Gillis v. Litscher, 468 F.3d 488, 493 (7th Cir. 2006)).
Mr. Sloan does not allege that he was deprived of taking showers, or if he was, how
often. Mr. Sloan alleges that he can use a cane to get in and out of the shower. He also alleges
that with other inmates’ assistance, he can access a “step into” shower. He does not allege that he
cannot wash himself in a sink. Having to use a plastic chair in a shower, absent other conditions
that would prevent Mr. Sloan from having access to adequate hygiene, does not state a claim
under the Eighth Amendment. Strominger v. Brock, No. 14-1310, 592 Fed.Appx. 508, 511 (7th
Cir. 2014) (giving Strominger a plastic chair for use in the shower for 34 days and again for 133
days did not constitute the denial of minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities). The Seventh
Circuit has held that an allegation that taking a shower is made more difficult by the absence of
grab bars is not sufficient to state a constitutional claim. Jaros, 684 F.3d at 671 (“limiting
inmates to weekly showers does not violate the Eighth Amendment”).
Moreover, Mr. Sloan alleges that having inaccessible showers was negligent on the part
of prison officials, but negligence is not sufficient to support a constitutional claim. Armato v.
Grounds, 766 F.3d 713, 721 (7th Cir. 2014) (“Deliberate indifference requires more than
negligence”); Strominger, 592 Fed.Appx. at 512. Therefore, the Eighth Amendment claim
relating to inaccessible showers is dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can
Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act Claims
The Court has also sua sponte considered whether Mr. Sloan’s allegations of inaccessible
showers and lack of a wheelchair ramp state claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act,
42 U.S. C. § 12101, et. seq. (the “ADA”), and the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (the
“RA”). Compensatory damages are available under the ADA and RA only for “claims of
intentional discrimination.” Wilke v. Cole, 630 Fed.Appx. 615, 620 (7th Cir. 2015). These
statutes, generally speaking, prohibit public entities, including prisons, from discriminating
against disabled individuals. See Pennsylvania Dept. of Correction v. Yeskey, 524 U.S. 206, 210
The relief available under the ADA and RA for failure to accommodate a disability is
“coextensive.” Jaros, 684 F.3d at 671. Because Mr. Sloan can have only one recovery, and
because there are “thorny” issues of whether without a constitutional violation, sovereign
immunity might bar the ADA claim, see id. at 672, the Court shall consider only the RA claim.
Id. (deciding to “dispense with the ADA and the thorny question of sovereign immunity” and
only consider whether a RA claim was viable). To state a RA claim, an inmate must allege “(1)
he is a qualified person (2) with a disability and (3) the Department of Corrections denied him
access to a program or activity because of his disability.” Id. (citing 29 U.S.C. § 705(2)(B) and
other cases). The proper defendant under these circumstances would be the Indiana Department
of Correction, a defendant not named in the complaint.
The Court acknowledges that Mr. Sloan did not allege these statutory claims. He may
determine whether he wishes to pursue a RA claim relating to the inaccessible showers and lack
of a wheelchair ramp at Plainfield. If he wishes to pursue them in this action, he shall notify the
Court not later than April 19, 2017. If he does not so notify the Court, no RA claim will
proceed in this action.
Denial of Treatment – Constitutional Claims
Mr. Sloan also alleges that his Eighth Amendment rights were violated when he was
denied medical treatment, but this claim is misjoined. This claim is distinct from the
inaccessibility claims. In George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007), the Court of
Appeals explained that “[u]nrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits.”
Rule 20 allows joinder of multiple defendants only when the allegations against them involve the
same transaction or occurrence and common questions of fact and law. Mr. Sloan’s denial of
medical treatment claim does not involve the same occurrences or common questions of fact and
law as those that may relate to the failure to properly accommodate his disability. See
Strominger, 592 Fed.Appx. at 512 (affirmed dismissal of deliberate indifference claims against a
doctor as not properly joined with failure to accommodate claims).
In addition, although Dr. Polar and Corizon are named defendants, Mr. Sloan does not
specifically allege that Dr. Polar denied him necessary medical treatment nor does he allege facts
supporting a claim that Corizon had a policy or custom of denying inmates medical treatment
under similar circumstances. Therefore, as presented, the complaint does not state a viable claim
of deliberate indifference to a serious medical need under the Eighth Amendment against any
defendant. “Where a complaint alleges no specific act or conduct on the part of the defendant
and the complaint is silent as to the defendant except for his name appearing in the caption, the
complaint is properly dismissed.” Potter v. Clark, 497 F.2d 1206, 1207 (7th Cir. 1974).
Because any denial of medical treatment claims are misjoined and are not alleged against
any named defendant, such claims could proceed, if at all, only in a separate action with an
amended complaint. For purposes of this action, the claims are dismissed for failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. If the plaintiff wishes to pursue any Eighth
Amendment deliberate indifference claims, he may file a new action alleging facts supporting
such claims, including which individuals or entities denied him necessary medical treatment. He
is informed that the applicable statute of limitations for such claims is two years.
For the reasons discussed in this Entry, the complaint, as presented, is dismissed for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
The plaintiff shall have through April 21, 2017, in which to show cause why this action
should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Luevano v.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1022 (7th Cir. 2013) (plaintiffs should be given at least an
opportunity to amend or to respond to an order to show cause before a case is “tossed out of
court without giving the applicant any timely notice or opportunity to be heard to clarify, contest,
or simply request leave to amend.”). If the plaintiff wishes to amend his complaint, he shall place
the proper case number, 1:17-cv-00221-WTL-DML, and the words “Amended Complaint” on
the first page of the amended complaint. In addition, Mr. Sloan has been given the same deadline
in which to report whether he wishes to pursue claims under the Rehabilitation Act against the
Indiana Department of Correction.
Any amended complaint must be complete because it would replace the original
complaint in its entirety.
If the plaintiff fails to show cause or seek leave to amend, the action will be dismissed for
the reasons set forth in this Entry without further notice.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
NEW CASTLE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
1000 Van Nuys Road
NEW CASTLE, IN 47362
Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
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