United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
GEORGE W. WILSON, Plaintiff,
DR. NANCY MARTHAKIS, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
W. Wilson, pro se prisoner, filed a complaint
alleging he is being discriminated against because of his
disability in violation of Title II of the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation
Act (RA). ECF 1. “A document filed pro se is
to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint,
however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers . .
..” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007). Nevertheless, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A,
this court must review the complaint and dismiss it if the
action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim, or
seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from
is incarcerated at the Indiana State Prison (ISP). According
to the allegations of the complaint, he is a disabled inmate,
unsteady on his feet as a result of various medical
conditions. Due to a number of past falls, Wilson was
prescribed a wheelchair and shower seat. However, on June 4,
2018, he was placed in segregation and both of these items
were taken away. As a result, Wilson is unable to visit the
recreation room, make phone calls or take a shower.
state a claim under the Rehabilitation Act, Wilson
“need only allege that (1) he is a qualified person;
(2) with a disability and (3) the Department of Corrections
denied him access to a program or activity due to his
disability.” Jaros v. Ill. Dep't of Corr.,
684 F.3d 667, 672 (7th Cir. 2012). Here, Wilson alleges he is
disabled and not afforded the privileges of non-disabled
inmates, such as engaging in recreation, making phone calls
or taking a shower. Given the inferences he is entitled at
this stage of the proceedings, Wilson has stated a claim.
Jaros, 684 F.3d at 672 (noting that the prison's
refusal to accommodate a disability that keeps an inmate from
accessing the showers on the same basis as other inmates
violates the Rehabilitation Act). Notably, prison employees
have no individual liability in RA claims; these claims must
be brought against a governmental entity. 42 U.S.C. §
12132; Jaros, 684 F.3d at 672 (“[E]mployees of
the Department of Corrections are not amenable to suit under
the Rehabilitation Act or ADA.”). Consequently, these
allegations state a plausible claim for a violation of the RA
by Warden Neal in his official capacity. Wilson also alleges
these same facts state a claim for a violation of Title II of
the ADA. Nevertheless, there is no need to pursue both. The
relief available under these statutes is coextensive and
“[a]s a practical matter, [he] can have but one
recovery.” Id. (citing cases explaining that
dismissal of ADA claim had no effect on scope of remedy
because Rehabilitation Act claim remained). Therefore even if
these facts could also state an additional claim, this case
“gains nothing by attracting additional . . .
labels.” Conyers v. Abitz, 416 F.3d 580 (7th
Wilson complains about not receiving adequate medical care at
ISP for injuries he sustained in past falls. He complains
that on October 20, 2017, he fell and injured his scrotum and
lower abdominal area. ECF 1 at 2. He was examined by
“medical staff, ” who told him everything was
normal. “The health care provider” did not
provide him any further treatment. ECF 1 at 2. He also
alleges that on May 30, 2018, he fell and broke one of his
fingers, but he has not received any treatment or x-ray to
determine the extent of the injury. Id.
order to state a claim under [42 U.S.C.] § 1983 a
plaintiff must allege: (1) that defendants deprived him of a
federal constitutional right; and (2) that the defendants
acted under color of state law.” Savory v.
Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 670 (7th Cir. 2006). In medical
cases, the Constitution is violated only when a defendant was
deliberately indifferent to an inmate's serious medical
needs. Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1369 (7th
Cir. 1997). A medical need is "serious" if it is
one that a physician has diagnosed as mandating treatment, or
one that is so obvious that even a lay person would easily
recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention.
Greeno v. Daley , 414 F.3d 645, 653 (7th Cir. 2005).
“[C]onduct is deliberately indifferent when the
official has acted in an intentional or criminally reckless
manner, i.e., the defendant must have known that the
plaintiff was at serious risk of being harmed and decided not
to do anything to prevent that harm from occurring even
though he could have easily done so.” Board v.
Farnham, 394 F.3d 469, 478 (7th Cir. 2005) (quotation
marks, brackets, and citation omitted).
problem here is that Wilson does not provide the necessary
details for this court to determine if these claims present a
constitutional violation. To start, Wilson has not named any
responsible defendant. He claims that “the health care
provider” failed to give him adequate treatment for his
injured scrotum and does not identify who failed to give him
treatment for his broken finger. Thus, Wilson does not
identify what any named defendant did in connection with his
claims. This is necessary as “[a] plaintiff bringing a
civil rights action must prove that the defendant personally
participated in or caused the unconstitutional
actions.” Grieveson v. Anderson, 538 F.3d 763,
776 (7th Cir. 2008). “[P]ublic employees are
responsible for their own misdeeds but not for anyone
else's.” Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592,
596 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Wilson does not explain
what treatment he sought in connection with these injuries,
what treatment was provided and what treatment was denied.
Because there are no allegations that any defendant was
deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, Wilson
has not stated a plausible Eighth Amendment claim.
final matter, Wilson brings an unrelated claim against Dr.
Marthakis and Wexford Health Services, Inc., for not treating
his Hepatitis C while incarcerated at ISP. Notably, this
claim is not dependant upon, or related to, the others as it
involves different defendants, different incidents that took
place on separate dates, and involves different sets of
operative facts. Thus, this claim does not belong in the same
lawsuit as the rest of Wilson's claims. George v.
Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007)
(“Unrelated claims against different defendants belong
in different suits . . ..”), When a pro se
prisoner files a suit with unrelated claims, the court has
several options. Wheeler v. Wexford Health Sources,
Inc., 689 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2012). Typically, it
is the practice of this court to notify the plaintiff and
allow him to decide which claim (or related claims) to pursue
in the instant case. Id. Here, however, the court
will pick a claim (or related claims) for him because
“[a] district judge [can] solve the problem by . . .
dismissing the excess defendants under Fed.R.Civ.P.
21.” Id. This option seems to be the best
solution in this case since Wilson fears that he is at risk
of future falls without the assistance of a wheelchair or
shower seat. Thus, to avoid any potential future harm caused
by delaying his disability claim, the court will select the
RA-related claims and will dismiss the unrelated claims
regarding the treatment of his Hepatitis C. Wilson may raise
the treatment of his Hepatitis C in a different lawsuit, but
not in this one.
these reasons, the court:
GRANTS George W. Wilson leave to proceed against Warden Neal
in his official capacity for compensatory damages and
injunctive relief for denying him access to the recreation
room and shower area because of his disability in violation
of the Rehabilitation Act;
DISMISSES all other claims;
DISMISSES Dr. Nancy Marthakis and Wexford Health Services,
Inc. as defendants;
DIRECTS the clerk and the United States Marshals Service to
issue and serve process at the IDOC on Warden Neal with a
copy of this order and the complaint (ECF 1) as required by
28 U.S.C. § 1915(d); and
ORDERS, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g)(2), Warden Neal
to respond, as provided for in the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure and N.D. Ind. L.R. 10-1(b), only to the claims for
which the ...