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Knox v. Rhodes

April 6, 2010

CHRISTOPHER KNOX, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DR. KELLY RHODES, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on Magistrate Judge Philip M. Frazier's Report and Recommendation ("R&R") (Doc. 109) of January 26, 2010, wherein it is recommended that the Court grant Defendants Claudia Kachigian and Marvin Powers' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 23), Defendants Lawrence Weiner, Roger Walker, Jessie Montgumerory, Jason Garnett, Danny Hartline, Wendy Navarro, and William Eleya's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 50), Defendant Diana Dobier's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 79), and Defendants Ken Bartley and Kelly Rhodes' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 92). Plaintiff Christopher Knox filed a timely Objection (Doc. 129) to the R&R, to which Defendants filed a Response (Doc. 137). While Knox filed a Reply (Doc. 149) to Defendants' response brief, the Local Rules of the Southern District of Illinois do not allow for such a filing (see S.D. Ill. L. R. 73.1(b)); as such, the Court STRIKES Knox's reply. Knox also filed another Objection (Doc. 147) to the instant R&R, which was substantively identical to his original objection. This re-filing was both unnecessary and untimely, and the Court hereby STRIKES it from the record as well.

For the following reasons, the Court, inter alia, ADOPTS the R&R as modified herein.

BACKGROUND

The Court first notes that, while only Dobier's dismissal motion is labeled as such, all of the motions to dismiss are made pursuant to Federal Rule of Procedure 12(b)(6). The Court further notes that, while Magistrate Judge Frazier's R&R relies upon Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957) for the applicable standard of review, Conley has since been abrogated by Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), which generally places a more demanding pleading standard on plaintiffs. As will be seen, however, application of either Conley or Twombly dictates the same end result.

Pursuant to Twombly, courts must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences from those facts in favor of the plaintiff. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Tricontinental Indus. Ltd. v. PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, 475 F.3d 824, 833 (7th Cir. 2007). Accordingly, the Court takes all of the factual allegations in Knox's Complaint (Doc. 1) as true and draws all reasonable inferences in his favor. On April 14, 2008, Knox filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging the conditions of his confinement at Tamms Correctional Center and claiming that Defendants are not providing adequate care for his serious medical needs. Specifically, Tamms' extremely restrictive conditions are exacerbating Knox's mental illness, and any mental health treatment he receives is more akin to punishment than therapy.

Knox's suit includes claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Illinois Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code, and the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution against, presumably, all named Defendants. All of these claims, excepting those arising under the Eighth Amendment, are raised in the instant motions to dismiss.*fn1 Following a brief overview of the applicable standard of review and general law governing 12(b)(6) dismissal motions, the Court will address each claim in kind.

ANALYSIS

After reviewing a report and recommendation, the Court may accept, reject or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations of the magistrate judge in the report. Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). The Court must review de novo the portions of the report to which objections are made. The Court has discretion to conduct a new hearing and may consider the record before the magistrate judge anew or receive any further evidence deemed necessary. Id. "If no objection or only partial objection is made, the district court judge reviews those unobjected portions for clear error." Johnson v. Zema Sys. Corp., 170 F.3d 734, 739 (7th Cir. 1999). Since Knox objected to most, if not all, of Magistrate Judge Frazier's findings, the Court reviews the R&R de novo.

I. Motions to Dismiss Generally

The federal system of notice pleading requires only that the plaintiff provide "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Therefore, the complaint need not allege detailed facts. Pisciotta v. Old Nat'l Bancorp, 499 F.3d 629, 633 (7th Cir. 2007).

However, in order to provide fair notice of the grounds for his claim, the plaintiff must allege sufficient facts "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). The complaint must offer "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of a cause of action's elements will not do." Id. The plaintiff's pleading obligation is to avoid factual allegations "so sketchy that the complaint does not provide the type of notice of the claim to which the defendant is entitled under [Federal] Rule [of Civil Procedure] 8." Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT & T Mobility LLC, 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2007). However, "when a complaint adequately states a claim, it may not be dismissed based on a district court's assessment that the plaintiff will fail to find evidentiary support for his allegations or prove his claim to the satisfaction of the factfinder." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563 n.8.

II. Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

In Pennsylvania Department of Corrections v. Yeskey, 524 U.S. 206 (1998), the Supreme Court held that Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., applies to prisoners in state correctional facilities. Title II forbids a "public entity" from discriminating against a "qualified individual with a disability" on account of that individual's disability. 42 U.S.C. § 12132 (2006). In order to state a claim under Title II, a plaintiff must allege the following: "(1) [he] is disabled as defined under the statute; (2) [he] was qualified for the benefits that [he] sought; (3) [he] was denied those benefits because of [his] disability; and (4) the defendant is a public entity as defined by the ADA." Hahn v. Walsh, No. 09-CV-2145, 2009 WL 5215599, at *9 (C.D. Ill. Dec. 29, 2009); see also Herdman v. Univ. of Ill., No. 96 C 8025, 1998 WL 774684, at *6 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 28, 1998). Of course, ...


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