The opinion of the court was delivered by: ASPEN
MARVIN E. ASPEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
In this pro se prisoner rights case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1982), plaintiff Arthur Ford has sued the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") and several correctional officials, asserting that the defendants violated the eighth amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. In essence, Ford claims that his work at the Joliet Correctional Center's mattress factory injured his already precarious health, and that the medical care he received both before and during his employment was inadequate. Presently before the Court is the defendants' motion to dismiss under Rules 12(b)(1)
and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, the defendants' motion is granted.
We must construe the allegations in Ford's pro se complaint liberally. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106, 97 S. Ct. 285, 292, 50 L. Ed. 2d 251 (1976); Martin v. Tyson, 845 F.2d 1451, 1454 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 863, 109 S. Ct. 162, 102 L. Ed. 2d 133 (1988). In addition, because this is a motion to dismiss, we must accept the facts alleged, as well as the inferences reasonably drawn from these facts, as true. Kush v. American States Insurance Co., 853 F.2d 1380, 1382 (7th Cir. 1988). Read in this way, the complaint reveals that Ford started work at the Joliet mattress factory on January 21, 1985. Sometime before he was hired, Ford submitted an employment application to Michael Johnston, a supervisor of the mattress factory, and Clyde Fortenbury, the factory's superintendent. In the application, Ford stated that he suffered from enlarged left and right ventricles, that he was taking medication for this condition, and that his stomach bothered him on occasion. In addition, Ford's heart condition at this time required him to wear a "NitroPad"
on his chest. Ford does not allege that he included this fact on his employment application, but he does indicate that Kathy Harkes,
the Health Care Administrator at Joliet, or "others acting under her direct supervision" did know of the NitroPad. See Complaint-Statement of Legal Claims para. 8. Despite these health problems and despite the fact that Ford was fifty-one years of age at the time, Johnston and Fortenbury did not require a pre-employment physical examination before approving his application.
After Ford started work, he discovered that the employment conditions were far less than ideal. In particular, Ford claims that the ventilation in the area where he worked was inadequate to "purge out" the cotton dust, lint fibers, boric acid filaments,
and other dusts circulating in the air at the factory. According to Ford, neither Johnston nor Fortenbury informed him of these health hazards. Moreover, part of his job was to unload heavy boxes and large rolls of cotton when they were delivered. The heavy lifting and poorly ventilated environment soon took their effect on Ford. In 1987, he noticed that his health was beginning to deteriorate. In particular, Ford "started to experience a loss of appetite, a noticeable loss of weight, periodic dizziness and hot flashes, severe stomach problems, reoccurring headaches and chest pains, a lack of breath, and sometimes experienced difficulty in bending down or walking." Complaint -- Statement of Facts para. 9. "On more than one occasion," Ford went to see a prison doctor to complain of his health problems.
Although he received refills on his heart medication, he claims his health problems were otherwise essentially ignored. Ford asserts that each time he visited the doctor, he was told merely that "It's really nothing serious. You'll get over it." Id. para. 10.
Ford did not get over it, but rather, his health problems seemed to get worse. Ford claims that he lacks any vision in his right eye and has very poor vision in his left. In addition, in 1988 he contracted a kidney infection that, like his vision difficulties and other health problems, he attributes to his work in the unhealthy conditions of the mattress factory. Ford's superiors at the factory finally requested that Ford be given a medical examination, and he received a physical and a number of tests sometime in 1988. Ford claims that he never received the results of these tests, id. para. 12, but he understands, apparently through the prison grapevine,
that the tests indicated his "health profile" was poor. Complaint-Relief para. A2. Despite this, someone (it is not clear who) signed an authorization for Ford to return to work.
In August 1988, as a result of his health problems, Ford brought this suit against Fortenbury and Johnston, as well as against IDOC; Michael P. Lane, the Director of IDOC; J. W. Fairman, the Warden at Joliet; Dr. Ronald M. Shanskey, the Medical Doctor for IDOC; and Kathy Harkes, the Health Care Administrator at Joliet. The individual defendants are sued in both their official and their personal capacities. Ford asserts that the defendants are liable under section 1983 because their treatment of him constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the eighth amendment. Broadly read, Ford's complaint identifies four purported violations of the eighth amendment. First, the defendants failed to give Ford a physical examination before he started his employment at the mattress factory, despite his known health problems and despite the unhealthy conditions at the factory; second, after Ford's health problems became evident, the defendants ignored his complaints; third, when Ford finally received a physical, he was not informed of its results; fourth, despite the poor results of his physical, Ford was authorized to go back to work. Ford seeks $ 935,000 in compensatory damages, $ 2,350,000 in punitive damages and attorneys' fees and costs under 42 U.S.C. § 1988. In addition, Ford asks us to order the defendants to have him examined by medical specialists and to enjoin the defendants from retaliating against him for suit by transferring him to a more onerous prison.
The defendants have invoked the eleventh amendment as support for their first attack on Ford's complaint. The defendants correctly argue that the eleventh amendment bars suit in federal court against state agencies, such as IDOC, that have not waived their eleventh amendment immunity. See Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782, 98 S. Ct. 3057, 57 L. Ed. 2d 1114 (1978) ("There can be no doubt . . . that suit against the State and its Board of Corrections is barred by the Eleventh Amendment, unless Alabama has consented to filing of such a suit."); Riordan v. Kempiners, 831 F.2d 690, 695 (7th Cir. 1987). Neither Illinois nor IDOC has consented to suits for damages, see Duckworth v. Franzen, 780 F.2d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 816, 107 S. Ct. 71, 93 L. Ed. 2d 28 (1986), so IDOC must be dismissed from the suit.
Defendants also contend that the eleventh amendment bar suits against any of them in their official capacity. This argument presents slightly more difficulty, but only because the case law in this area is maddeningly convoluted. In general, a suit against a defendant in his or her official capacity is "only another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is an agent." Monell v. Department of Social Services of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690 n.55, 98 S. Ct. 2018, 2035 n.55, 56 L. Ed. 2d 611 (1978); see also Brandon v. Holt, 469 U.S. 464, 471-73, 105 S. Ct. 873, 877-78, 83 L. Ed. 2d 878 (1985); Conner v. Reinhard, 847 F.2d 384, 394 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 856, 109 S. Ct. 147, 102 L. Ed. 2d 118 (1988). It should follow that when a suit against an entity is barred, a suit against an officer in his or her official capacity is also barred. That is certainly the case when a plaintiff seeks monetary damages. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 168-69, 105 S. Ct. 3099, 3107, 87 L. Ed. 2d 114 (1985) (since state could not have been sued for damages, suit against state official was necessarily litigated as a personal capacity action, not an official capacity action); Brunken v. Lance, 807 F.2d 1325, 1329 (7th Cir. 1986). Since all individual defendants are officials of IDOC and since the eleventh amendment bars suit against IDOC, Ford's suit must be dismissed to the extent that it seeks damages against the individual defendants in their official capacity.
However, Ford also asks us to order the defendants to provide him with a medical examination by a specialist and to enjoin the defendants from retaliating against him for bringing this suit. Injunctive relief is clearly barred against the state and state agencies. See Pennhurst State School & Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100, 104 S. Ct. 900, 909, 79 L. Ed. 2d 67 (1984); Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782, 98 S. Ct. 3057, 3057, 57 L. Ed. 2d 1114 (1978); Brunken, 807 F.2d at 1329. If suits against individuals in their official capacity are really just like suits against the entity, then it should follow that injunctive relief suits against state officials should also be barred. However, the Supreme Court long has held that the eleventh amendment does not bar an official capacity suit seeking injunctive relief against a state official, at least if the relief sought is prospective and is based on the unconstitutionality of the official's actions. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. at 169 n.18, 105 S. Ct. at 3107 n.18; Pennhurst, 465 U.S. at 102, 104 S. Ct. at 909; Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 28 S. Ct. 441, 52 L. Ed. 714 (1908). Therefore, since the suit is based on the eighth amendment and seeks injunctive relief only for the future, the eleventh amendment does not require us to dismiss the portion of Ford's suit seeking injunctive relief against the individual defendants in their official capacity.
Ford also seeks something that he calls a "declaratory judgment." The eleventh amendment does not bar declaratory actions against state officials in their official capacities, if the action is grounded in federal law. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. at 169 n.18, 105 S. Ct. at 3107 n.18. Ford's suit, however, does not seek a true declaratory judgment. As we have noted elsewhere, the purpose of a declaratory judgment "is to allow the parties to understand their rights and liabilities so that they can adjust their future action to avoid unnecessary damages." Rockwell International Corp. v. IU International Corp., 702 F. Supp. 1384, 1388 (1988) (citing ACandS Inc. v. Aetna Casualty and Surety Co., 666 F.2d 819, 823 (3d Cir. 1981)); see also 10A C. Wright, A. Miller & M. Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2751 at 570 (2d ed. 1983) (declaratory judgment "permits actual controversies to be settled before they ripen into violations of law"). Here, by contrast, Ford is seeking a declaration that the defendants' past conduct -- hiring him without a medical examination and allowing him to ...