The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sue E. Myerscough, U.S. District Judge:
Thursday, 19 January, 2012 11:57:28 AM
Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD
Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and detained in Rushville Treatment and Detention Center, pursues a claim under the Americans with Disability Act and a claim under the Equal Protection Clause. These claims arise from Defendants' alleged refusal to transport Plaintiff in a van equipped with a wheelchair lift. Defendants are now transporting Plaintiff in a such a van, which moots Plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief.
Before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment, which is granted for the reasons below.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
"The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A movant may demonstrate the absence of a material dispute through specific cites to admissible evidence, or by showing that the non-movant "cannot produce admissible evidence to support the [material] fact." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(B). If the movant clears this hurdle, the non-movant may not simply rest on his or her allegations in the complaint, but instead must point to admissible evidence in the record to show that a genuine dispute exists. Id.; Harvey v. Town of Merrillville, 649 F.3d 526, 529 (7th Cir. 2011).
At the summary judgment stage, evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the non-movant, with material factual disputes resolved in the non-movant's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A genuine dispute of material fact exists when a reasonable juror could find for the non-movant. Id.
Plaintiff has been detained in the Rushville Treatment and Detention Center since the Fall of 2006. Ten years earlier, Plaintiff suffered a gunshot wound which caused spinal cord and nerve damage, rendering him wheelchair dependent. However, he is able to walk about 50 feet with a rolling walker and is able to use the facility's gym equipment from his wheelchair with some assistance.
On occasion Plaintiff must be transported outside the facility to appointments and court hearings. The parties dispute whether Plaintiff is able to transfer himself out of his wheelchair and into a standard van without assistance. Plaintiff's physical therapist avers that, to her knowledge, Plaintiff "has never demonstrated a need to be transported in a handicap[ped] accessible van." (Wilson Aff., ¶ 10, d/e 33-2). However, Plaintiff testified that he cannot get in and out of the van on his own and must instead be assisted by guards who lift him up by his shoulders to help him inside. (Plaintiff's Dep., p. 32, d/e 33-2). The Court accepts Plaintiff's version at the summary judgment stage. The parties agree that Plaintiff was never denied transportation to a scheduled court date or appointment.
In March 2008, Plaintiff filed a grievance which, in relevant part, asserted that he was entitled to be transported in a handicapped-accessible vehicle. The grievance was denied. At that time the facility did have a vehicle with a wheelchair lift but, according to the response to the grievance, that vehicle was "primarily used to escort a different resident to appointments on a frequent basis. Depending upon the average age and disability of the population, another wheelchair lift vehicle may require consideration." (d/e 19, p. 10).
On September 15, 2009, Plaintiff filed another grievance asking to be transported in a "handicap accessible wheelchair lift vehicle." (Original Complaint, Ex. 1, d/e 1). The grievance was denied on the grounds that the medical director had determined that Plaintiff was able to transfer himself to a regular van. The grievance further stated that Plaintiff's restraints were removed while he was getting in and out of the van. The grievance concluded, "Resident Simmons has not requested additional help nor does he require additional ...