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Evans v. Page

June 18, 2003

WILLIAM EVANS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
THOMAS PAGE, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Randolph County. No. 98-MR-102 Honorable William A. Schuwerk, Jr., Judge, presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Donovan

UNPUBLISHED

William Evans (plaintiff), proceeding pro se, appeals the circuit court's ruling dismissing his claim against the warden of Menard Correctional Center (Menard), Thomas Page (defendant). Plaintiff's complaint sought damages for alleged violations of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) (42 U.S.C. §§12131 through 12134 (1994)). For the following reasons, we affirm.

BACKGROUND

This is a second appeal arising from a civil action filed by plaintiff pursuant to the ADA (42 U.S.C. §12101 et seq. (1994)). Plaintiff, who is a paraplegic, was a prisoner in the custody of the Department of Corrections (Department) at Menard, where defendant was the warden. Plaintiff filed a complaint asserting that he had been (1) denied transportation to and from court in a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, (2) denied wheelchair-accessible recreation and exercise, and (3) denied wheelchair access to the health care unit and library at Menard. Plaintiff further alleged that the transportation he had been provided caused him pain and that without a wheelchair-accessible scale to weigh him, the health care unit had been unable to provide him with a comprehensive physical exam.

The circuit court granted defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to sections 2-615 and 2-619(a)(9) of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-615, 2-619(a)(9) (West 2000)), and plaintiff appealed. Initially, this court issued a Rule 23 order affirming the dismissal of the complaint. Evans v. Page, No. 5-99-0216 (May 5, 2000) (unpublished order pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 23 (166 Ill. 2d R. 23)). However, upon the consideration of a petition for rehearing filed by plaintiff and defendant's answer thereto, this court issued an opinion holding that plaintiff's allegations regarding the provisions of transportation and health care in an appropriate manner consistent with his disability were sufficient to pass the threshold required to bring the case under the ADA. Evans v. Page, 324 Ill. App. 3d 241, 246, 755 N.E.2d 105, 108 (2001).

On remand, defendant again filed a motion to dismiss, pursuant to section 2-619 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 2000)). The basis of the motion and accompanying memorandum was that plaintiff's claim was barred by the State's sovereign immunity. The circuit court granted defendant's motion to dismiss, stating, "No cause of action exists in this Court for bringing claims against the State of Illinois for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act."

Plaintiff argues to this court that (1) pursuant to the ADA defendant can be sued in Illinois courts in his capacity as warden, (2) defendant failed to show that he had made reasonable accommodations for plaintiff's disability and that further accommodations would have been an undue burden, (3) the trial court and defendant were bound to follow the opinion and mandate of the reversal from this court, (4) he is entitled to a summary judgment, (5) he has proved he has been denied a benefit or service because of his disability, and (6) he was entitled to the discovery requested and the attorney fees and costs that he was denied.

The State responds that (1) plaintiff's claims under Title II of the ADA were properly dismissed based on the grounds of sovereign immunity and a lack of jurisdiction, (2) the circuit court correctly dismissed plaintiff's claims for compensatory damages because he failed to allege a discriminatory intent by defendant, (3) the circuit court properly denied plaintiff's motion for a summary judgment, (4) the circuit court properly considered defendant's motion to dismiss for a lack of jurisdiction, and (5) the circuit court properly denied plaintiff's request for attorney fees.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

We review de novo the trial court's order granting defendant's section 2-619 motion to dismiss. On a review of a ruling on a section 2-619 motion, the questions on appeal are whether a genuine issue of material fact exists and whether the defendant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Nowak v. St. Rita High School, 197 Ill. 2d 381, 389, 757 N.E.2d 471, 477 (2001).

THE ADA

This case arises under Title II of the ADA. Section 202 of the ADA provides as follows: "Subject to the provisions of this subchapter, 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 (1994). A "public entity" is defined to include any state or local government, department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a state or states or local government. 42 U.S.C. §12131(1)(A), (1)(B) (1994). The United States Supreme Court has held that Title II's prohibition of discrimination by "public entities" against disabled individuals includes within its coverage state prisons and prisoners. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections v. Yeskey, 524 U.S. 206, 141 L. Ed. 2d 215, 118 S. Ct. 1952 (1998).

Claims of discrimination pursuant to Title II of the ADA lie only against the public entity, not against the individual public official. Walker v. Snyder, 213 F.3d 344, 346 (7th Cir. 2000). In the case at bar, plaintiff sued defendant, the former warden of Menard, in his official capacity, and sought $50,000 in damages based upon the Department's alleged violations of the ADA. In this case, we conclude that ...


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