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Hargett v. Adams

September 14, 2010

JEFFREY A. HARGETT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CAROL ADAMS ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harold A. Baker United States District Judge

Order

The plaintiff claims that he was discriminated against because of his disability (morbid obesity) in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. He seeks declaratory relief and compensatory damages.

Specifically, the plaintiff claims that the defendants deprived him of his core group therapy treatment for 45 days when they transferred him from the Joliet Treatment and Detention Facility to the Rushville Treatment and Detention Facility before the other core group therapy members were transferred. (Complaint, ¶¶ 16, 19-23). The plaintiff maintains that he was prematurely transferred because of his obesity, denying him access to his core group treatment, while other core group members were able to continue participating in the therapy.

Before the court is the defendants' summary judgment motion, which is granted. Even assuming for purposes of this order that the plaintiff's obesity is a disability under the ADA, the accommodations sought by the plaintiff were unreasonable. There were no reasonable accommodations available which would have enabled the plaintiff to stay back with the other core group members. Accordingly, there is no ADA violation.

Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment "should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Any discrepancies in the factual record should be evaluated in the non-movant's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986) (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). The party moving for summary judgment must show the lack of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). This burden can be satisfied by "'showing'--that is, pointing out to the district court--that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A party opposing summary judgment bears the burden to respond, not simply by resting on its own pleading but by "set[ting] out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). "If [the non-movant] does not [meet his burden], summary judgment should, if appropriate, be entered against [the non-movant]." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). In determining whether factual issues exist, the court must view all the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Beraha v. Baxter Health Corp., 956 F.2d 1436, 1440 (7th Cir. 1992).

Facts

1. The plaintiff is morbidly obese. He is 6' 4" tall and, during relevant times, weighed over about 480-490 pounds. He is and at relevant times was being detained in a DHS treatment facility pursuant to the Illinois Sexually Violent Persons Act.

2. The plaintiff was originally housed in the Joliet Treatment and Detention Center. There, he was a member of "core group therapy" which he describes as "15 hours per week of intensive sex-offender-specific treatment in a group setting." Generally, core group members were housed in the newest building at Joliet, it appears as an incentive to participate. The plaintiff's size, however, precluded him from residing in the new building, because there was no room in that building large enough for him and his bed. Instead, the plaintiff stayed in one of the older buildings at Joliet in a larger room, with a separate bathroom and a larger bed. The plaintiff asserts that the new building was not built to ADA requirements, which is why he was unable to stay there.

3. The Joliet facility was overcrowded. At some point, it was determined that all the residents at Joliet would be moved to a facility in Rushville, Illinois. In September of 2005, Defendant Monahan took on the job of coordinating that move. The move occurred in three phases over the Summer of 2006. After the move, Monahan acted as Rushville's Administrator until March, 2007.

4. The move presented staffing and security challenges. These concerns precluded moving all the residents at one time, so they were instead moved in three stages.

5. Not all the guards at Joliet (called "Security Therapy Aids") were making the move to Rushville. The initial staff at Rushville consisted of a few experienced guards and several newly hired guards who were still being trained.

6. The same staffing challenges arose with the personnel providing clinical services to the residents. Clinical services decreased at both the Joliet and Rushville facilities during the weeks of the move.

7. The first group to move to Rushville was a small group of employees who helped get the facility ready. The second group were the residents housed in the oldest building at the Joliet facility, where the plaintiff was. The residents from the oldest building were moved first because that building was old and overcrowded. Because the plaintiff resided in the old ...


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