United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
LOWELL B. SMITH, Plaintiff,
STANLEY KNIGHT, RAYMOND KINISON, PLAINFIELD CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, I.D.O.C., Defendants.
ENTRY DISCUSSING COMPLAINT AND DIRECTING FURTHER
Patrick Hanlon, United States District Judge Southern
District of Indiana
Lowell B. Smith, an inmate at Plainfield Correctional
Facility (“Plainfield”), filed this civil action.
Mr. Smith is confined to a wheelchair and argues that his
rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”) are being violated.
the plaintiff is a “prisoner” as defined by 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(c), this Court has an obligation under 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b) to screen his complaint before service
on the defendants. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the
Court must dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or
malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief. In determining whether the complaint states a claim,
the Court applies the same standard as when addressing a
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). See Lagerstrom v. Kingston, 463 F.3d 621,
624 (7th Cir. 2006). To survive dismissal,
[the] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility 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). Pro se
complaints such as that filed by the plaintiff are construed
liberally and held to a less stringent standard than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers. Perez v. Fenoglio, 792
F.3d 768, 776 (7th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation omitted).
Smith claims that on December 4, 2018, he was injured when he
attempted to enter the chow hall in his wheelchair and the
door slammed shut on his hand. Mr. Smith claims that the
defendants have taken no action to prevent the doors from
slamming into inmates in wheelchairs even though they are
aware of the safety issue. He seeks $700, 000.00 in money
damages and injunctive relief. He has named Raymond Kinison,
the ADA coordinator at Plainfield, Warden Stanley Knight,
Plainfield Correctional Facility, and the Indiana Department
of Correction as defendants.
Smith's Complaint is understood to allege a claim under
Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation
Act. Both statutes seek to prohibit discrimination by public
entities on the basis of disability. Title II of the ADA
proscribes public entities from denying equal services to
individuals because of their disabilities. Discovery
House, Inc. v. Consol. City of Indianapolis, 319 F.3d
277, 279 (7th Cir. 2003). Specifically, Title II states that
“no qualified individual with a disability shall, by
reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in
or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or
activities of a public entity, or be
subjected to discrimination by any such entity.” 42
U.S.C. § 12132 (emphasis added). Title II defines a
“public entity” as any State or local government,
department, agency, special purpose district, or other
instrumentality of a State or States or local government; and
the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, and any commuter
authority. 42 U.S.C. § 12131(1).
§ 504 of the Rehabilitation Act states, “[n]o
otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the
United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his
disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied
the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any
program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance or
under any program or activity conducted by any Executive
agency . . .” 29 U.S.C. § 794.
is also a major difference between the ADA and Rehabilitation
Act. That is, the Rehabilitation Act includes as an
additional element the receipt of federal funds, which all
states accept for their prisons. Jaros v. Ill. Dept. of
Corrections, 684 F.3d 667, 671-72 (7th Cir. 2012). The
ADA, however, does not require the receipt of federal funds
and the courts have struggled with whether Congress's
purported abrogation of a State's sovereign immunity is
valid when the challenged conduct violates the ADA but not
the Constitution. United States v. Georgia, 546 U.S.
151, 159 (2006). As practical matter, the Seventh Circuit has
found it is sensible to “dispense with the ADA and the
thorny question of sovereign immunity” presented by the
Supreme Court in Georgia, 546 U.S. 151, and to focus
on the Rehabilitation Act because the plaintiff may have only
one recovery. Jaros, 684 F.3d at 672.
the ADA claim is DISMISSED and the Rehabilitation Act claims
SHALL PROCEED against the Indiana Department of Correction
and Rehabilitation Act claims against the individual
defendants must be dismissed because these statutes do not
provide a cause of action against individual employees or
officials in their individual capacity. See Jaros,
684 F.3d at 670 (citing 29 U.S.C. § 794(b); 42 U.S.C.
§ 12131; Foley v. City of Lafayette, 359 F.3d
925, 928 (7th Cir. 2004); Garcia v. S.U.N.Y. Health Scis.
Ctr. of Brooklyn, 280 F.3d 98, 107 (2d Cir. 2001)
Correctional Facility is also subject to dismissal because it
is a facility operated by the IDOC and is not itself a
legally separate “public entity” subject to suit,
it is “merely a division of the Indiana Department of
Correction.” Looney v. Miami Corr. Facility,
No. 3:18CV18-PPS/MGG, 2018 WL 1992197, at *2 (N.D. Ind. Apr.
27, 2018) (dismissing Miami Correctional Facility)
(citing Whiting v. Marathon Cty. ...