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Cook v. Brookhart

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 18, 2015

DWAYNE COOK, # M-42466, Plaintiff,
v.
DEE DEE BROOKHART, and SANDRA FUNK, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL, District Judge.

Plaintiff, who is currently incarcerated at Robinson Correctional Center ("Robinson"), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He also raises a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §12101, et seq. Plaintiff is serving a short-term sentence for several driving-related convictions. He is confined to a wheelchair. The basis for his complaint is that his scheduled transfer to another prison was canceled because the new facility was allegedly not ADA-accessible.

According to the complaint, when Plaintiff's criminal sentences were imposed, the trial judge ordered that he was to receive addiction services while incarcerated (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 8-9). Apparently, the program Plaintiff desires is not available at Robinson. Plaintiff applied to transfer to Sheridan Correctional Center ("Sheridan") in order to participate in the drug treatment program offered there. His application was approved after he was interviewed at Robinson. The prison official who conducted this in-person interview was from either Sheridan or the TASC (treatment) program (Doc. 1, p. 7). In October 2014, however, when the time came for Plaintiff to board the transfer bus, Plaintiff was informed that his transfer was cancelled because he is handicapped.

By letter dated December 4, 2014, Defendant Brookhart (Assistant Warden of Programs at Robinson) notified Plaintiff that his transfer to Sheridan was denied on October 10, 2014, by the Transfer Coordinator's Office (headed by Defendant Funk) because "Sheridan is not ADA accessible" (Doc. 1, p. 11). Plaintiff disputes the accessibility issue, however, because at his transfer interview, he was told that Sheridan was ADA accessible and housed several handicapped inmates. Defendant Brookhart was present during that interview (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff's father later confirmed the accessibility of Sheridan via a telephone call to that facility.

Plaintiff also applied to transfer to Jacksonville Correctional Center ("Jacksonville") in order to participate in their drug treatment program. On November 5, 2014, that transfer was also denied by the Transfer Coordinator's Office (Doc. 1, p. 10). The stated reason, again, was that Jacksonville is not ADA accessible. Plaintiff filed grievances over both the transfer denials (Doc. 1, pp. 12-15).

The complaint does not include a prayer for relief. Due to the nature of Plaintiff's allegations and the specific relief requested in his attached grievances, however, the Court will construe his complaint as seeking injunctive relief in the form of a transfer to a facility where Plaintiff may obtain access to the addiction services ordered by his sentencing court.

Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

Under § 1915A, the Court is required to conduct a prompt threshold review of the complaint and to dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from an immune defendant.

Based on the allegations of the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

Count 1: Constitutional claims for the denial/cancellation of Plaintiff's transfer requests and for the denial of access to addiction treatment;
Count 2: Claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and/or the Rehabilitation Act ("RA") for the denial/cancellation of Plaintiff's transfer requests and for excluding him from addiction treatment, based on his disability.

As shall be discussed below, the events outlined in the complaint do not amount to a violation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights. Count 1 shall therefore be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. However, Plaintiff's statutory claims under Count 2 survive review under § 1915A and shall receive further consideration.

Dismissal of Count 1 - Constitutional Claims

Plaintiff asserts, without elaboration, that Defendants' actions violated his constitutional rights. However, no ...


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