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Dinkins v. Correctional Medical Services

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Central Division

May 4, 2015

ROBERT DINKINS, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECTIONAL MEDICAL SERVICES, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

NANETTE K. LAUGHREY, District Judge.

Plaintiff Robert Dinkins filed this lawsuit against Correctional Medical Services, John Doe Medical Doctors, the State of Missouri, the Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC), and Jefferson City Correctional Center (JCCC) officers Phillip Lange and Morris Logan alleging violations of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (RA). Before the Court is the State of Missouri and MDOC's Motion for Summary Judgment, [Doc. 197]. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is granted in part and denied in part. The Motion for Summary Judgment as to Dinkins' physical therapy claims is granted. The Motion for Summary Judgment as to Dinkins' housing and meal claims is denied.

I. Procedural History

This lawsuit was filed in June 2009. The Court granted Dinkins leave to file a Second Amended Complaint in June 2010, which seeks injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages arising out of alleged violations of the ADA and RA. [Doc. 33-1]. In August 2010, Defendants the State of Missouri, MDOC, and officers Lange and Logan filed a Motion to Dismiss, [Doc. 47]. These defendants argued that the claims against them should be dismissed because (1) correctional officers Lange and Logan may not be sued in their individual capacities under Title II of the ADA; (2) the defendants were entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity; and because (3) Dinkins' claims were based on medical treatment decisions, which are not actionable under the ADA or RA. [Docs. 47 & 54]. The Court granted the Motion to Dismiss for those reasons. [Doc. 60]. In April 2011, the sole remaining named Defendant, Corizon Medical Services, filed a Motion to Dismiss, [Doc. 100]. The Court granted its Motion to Dismiss because Dinkins' claims against it were based on medical treatment decisions, and claims under the ADA or RA cannot be based on medical treatment decisions. [Doc. 118].

Dinkins appealed the Court's dismissal of his claims against all defendants. The Eighth Circuit affirmed dismissal of the individual capacity claims against Lange and Logan because they could not be sued in their individual capacities under the ADA or RA. See Dinkins v. Corr. Med. Servs., 743 F.3d 633, 634 (8th Cir. 2014). The Eighth Circuit also affirmed dismissal of the claims against the John Doe Medical Doctors and Corizon Medical Services because those claims were based on medical treatment decisions. Id. However, the Eighth Circuit concluded that not all of Dinkins' claims against Lange and Logan (in their official capacities), the State of Missouri, and MDOC appeared to be based on medical treatment decisions. Pointing to allegations that he was denied meals and adequate housing by reason of his disability and denied prescribed physical therapy, the Eighth Circuit stated that some of Dinkins' allegations could form the basis of viable ADA and RA claims. Id. at 635. The Eighth Circuit reversed the dismissal of Dinkins' claims for injunctive relief against the state defendants that were not based on medical treatment decisions. Id. The Eighth Circuit also reversed dismissal of Dinkins' damages claims against the State of Missouri and MDOC under the ADA and against the MDOC under the RA because some of their alleged behavior could violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Id. The Eighth Circuit stated that the MDOC waived sovereign immunity under the RA by accepting federal funds, and Title II of the ADA abrogates both the State of Missouri's and MDOC's immunity for conduct that actually violates the Fourteenth Amendment. Id. The case was remanded to this Court for further proceedings. Id.

On remand, the remaining defendants - Lange and Logan, the State of Missouri, and MDOC - filed a Motion to Dismiss All Claims for Injunctive Relief, [Doc. 142]. Their Motion was granted because Dinkins was transferred to Pickneyville Correctional Center in Illinois - meaning that Dinkins was no longer in the custody of MDOC and subject to its control - and therefore, Dinkins' injunctive relief claims were moot. [Doc. 150] (citing Randolph v. Rodgers, 253 F.3d 342, 345-46 (8th Cir. 2001)). The only remaining claims in this lawsuit are Dinkins' ADA damages claims against the State of Missouri and MDOC and Dinkins' RA damages claims against MDOC.

In November 2014, the State of Missouri and MDOC (hereinafter Defendants) filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on Dinkins' remaining damages claims against them. [Doc. 197]. In January 2015, Dinkins retained counsel, Mr. MacArthur Moten, who responded to the Motion for Summary Judgment on behalf of Dinkins [Docs. 208, 209].

II. Uncontroverted Material Facts[1]

Plaintiff Robert Dinkins was incarcerated at JCCC, an institution under the direction of MDOC, from 2004 until 2013. In 2004, Dinkins began experiencing symptoms of anemia and was diagnosed with anemia in December 2004 after collapsing during recreational time. In January 2006, after the symptoms intensified, Dinkins was diagnosed with pernicious anemia. By April 2006, Dinkins was paralyzed from the waist down. He was prescribed daily B-12 and iron treatments, a supplemental health drink, and a wheelchair.

Dinkins filed numerous grievances and requests related to physical therapy from 2006 through 2013. His requests were often denied, with JCCC medical professionals concluding that therapy was not medically necessary. In February 2006, an outside specialist recommended physical therapy. In May 2006, a physical therapist suggested anodyne infrared therapy. This recommendation was reviewed by the regional medical director at JCCC, a contracted medical professional who serves as the responsible physician for the facility. The regional medical director denied the anodyne infrared therapy recommendation after concluding that given Dinkins' condition and current B-12 treatments, anodyne infrared therapy was not medically necessary at that time.

On May 22, 2007, an outside specialist prescribed physical therapy, which was to occur 2-3 times per week for 4-6 weeks. Dinkins was transported to an outside clinic for physical therapy on May 30th and June 3rd, but after June 3rd, citing a disruption caused by Dinkins while at the clinic, the outside clinic refused to treat him and asked that he not return. On June 6th, a JCCC physician scheduled Dinkins for twice weekly physical therapy exercises in his cell in lieu of sessions at the outside clinic where Dinkins was no longer welcome. These exercises were based off of exercises provided by the outside clinic and were to be observed by JCCC medical staff. JCCC medical staff regularly witnessed Dinkins perform the exercises in his cell. A JCCC physician ordered Dinkins to continue with these exercises throughout 2007 and 2008.

While incarcerated at JCCC, on several different occasions for a duration of several days to weeks, Dinkins was assigned to various levels of administrative segregation referred to as "strip cell status, " "8 house, " and the "boom boom room." In "strip cell status, " an offender is stripped of his clothing and possessions as punishment for behavior such as threatening an officer. "8 house" is a long-term administrative segregation unit. The "boom boom room" is a rubber cell meant to prevent an inmate from harming himself. In each of these levels of administrative segregation, Dinkins was denied access to his wheelchair. His meals were delivered through an opening in his door called the "chuckhole."

Dinkins filed several written grievances and made oral complaints to various JCCC officials about his living conditions while in administrative segregation without his wheelchair. He complained that without his wheelchair, he was forced to crawl on the floor, eat his food off the floor, and sit in his own urine. He also complained that the shower facilities were not handicap accessible and that he fell in the shower and could not wash himself thoroughly. Dinkins requested access to a handicap shower, assignment to the JCCC infirmary, and the return of his wheelchair. Defendants deny that Dinkins was forced to crawl on the floor to access his meals, forced to eat on the floor, or forced to eliminate bodily waste on the floor. They also deny that Dinkins was not provided assistance in showering and using the restroom.

III. Discussion

Dinkins alleges that Defendants violated Title II of the ADA and section 794 of the RA by denying him access to showers, meals, prescribed physical therapy, and adequate housing by reason of his disability. Title II of the ADA 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. ยง12132. The Supreme Court of the United States has held that state prisons fall squarely within the statutory definition of a "public entity" and that recreational activities, medical services, and educational and vocational programs provided by prisons to inmates are "services, programs, or activities" under the statute. Pennsylvania Dept. of Corr. v. Yeskey, 524 U.S. 206, 210 (1998); see also Jaros v. Illinois Dept. of Corr., 684 F.3d 667, 672 (7th Cir. 2012) (stating that meals and showers made available to inmates are "program[s] or activit[ies]"); Kiman v. New Hampshire Dept. of Corr., 451 F.3d 274, 287-88 (1st Cir. 2006) (stating that disabled inmate presented admissible evidence that corrections officers prevented him from using shower chair). Similar to the ADA, section 794(a) of the RA states that "[n]o otherwise qualified individual with a disability... 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 ...


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