United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. Lee, United States District Judge.
Eric Golden, an inmate at Stateville Correctional Center in
Crest Hill, Illinois, claims that Defendants are violating
the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation
Act by failing to provide him with reasonable accommodations
for his disability. Golden has moved for summary judgment,
and Defendants-the IDOC and various former and current
employees-have as well. For the reasons given below, the
Court denies both motions but dismisses the individual
defendants from the case because they are not amenable to
suit under the ADA or the Rehabilitation Act.
Factual and Procedural Background
following facts are undisputed except where noted. Golden
lost his left leg below the knee following a surgical
amputation prior to his incarceration at Stateville.
See Pl.'s SOF ¶ 4; Defs.' SOF ¶
11. He requires a prosthetic leg to walk. See
Pl.'s SOF ¶¶ 8, 11. He received his current
prosthesis in 2013 while incarcerated at Stateville, at the
order of a doctor at the facility. See Defs.'
SOF ¶ 15.
of Stateville's physical layout, even disabled inmates
must walk substantial distances and up and down stairs in
order to utilize the services the facility offers.
See Pl.'s SOF ¶ 10. To the knowledge of
Stateville's ADA Facilities Coordinator, Nancy Pounovich,
Stateville does not house any wheelchair-bound inmates.
See Id. ¶ 23; Pl.'s Ex. G, Pounovich Dep.
have provided Golden with various aids and special permits
because of his disability. The aids include the prosthesis
itself, grab bars in the shower, and shower chairs.
See Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 60. The permits
include a “slow walk” permit that allows him to
walk at his own pace, a permit that allows him to be housed
in a cell on the first or second floor of the prison, and a
“low bunk” permit. See Id. ¶¶
37, 39, 41. Golden has requested a “lay-in”
permit, which would require prison staff to bring his meals
to his cell, but he has not been granted one. Defs.' SOF
testified that, despite the aids and permits he has received,
he has difficulty walking. He experiences pain and abrasions
from the friction between the prosthesis and his residual
limb, especially when walking up and down stairs.
See Pl.'s SOF ¶ 11; Defs.' SOF ¶
20. He also experiences difficulty with balance and has
fallen several times while showering or attempting to use the
toilet. Id.; Defs.' SOF ¶¶
34, 46. The shower grab bars are not always effective at
preventing falls because Golden must walk across a wet shower
floor to get to them. Pl.'s Resp. Defs.' SOF ¶
60. So far, he has not been seriously injured in a fall,
see Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 34, 36, but he fears
future falls, see Pl.'s SOF ¶ 11.
testified that he misses three to four meals in the cafeteria
per week because of the pain walking causes. See
Defs.' SOF ¶ 24. When he misses a meal, he purchases
food for himself from the commissary. Id. ¶ 25.
Also as the result of pain from walking, Golden misses
communal exercise about four times per month and religious
services two times per month. See Id. ¶¶
27, 33. Defendants do not deny that Golden misses these
events because of his disability. Id. ¶¶
24, 26, 27, 33.
least twice, Golden has requested a transfer from Stateville
to Dixon Correctional Center, a facility that his prison
counselor told him is ADA compliant. See Id.
¶¶ 52, 56; Defs.'s Ex. A, Golden Dep. at 21.
Golden's first transfer request was approved by the
warden of Stateville but ultimately was denied by the
IDOC's Office of the Transfer Coordinator because the
request had not been approved by the Office of Health
Services. See Pl.'s SOF ¶ 12; Defs.'
SOF ¶ 52. Golden's second request was also approved
by the warden but then denied by the Office of the Transfer
Coordinator, this time because Golden was
“appropriately placed.” See Pl.'s
SOF ¶ 15; Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 56, 57, 59.
is a maximum-security facility, while Dixon is a
medium-security facility, see Defs.' SOF ¶
51; Ex. B at ¶ 33, and there is evidence that the
difference in security level played a role in the denial of
Golden's second transfer request. Sandra Funk, the
IDOC's Transfer Coordinator, explained in her deposition
that, based on her review of the records, one factor that
weighed against transferring Golden to a lower security
facility was that he is designated as a suspected gang
leader. Defs.' Ex. D, Funk Dep. at 35. Asked whether the
practical effect of the suspected gang-leader designation is
an “absolute prohibition” on transfer to a
lower-security facility, Funk responded that it is “not
absolute but it is something that's considered.”
Id. She also testified that prison officials besides
the warden, including an assistant warden and a correctional
counselor, supported allowing Golden to transfer because of
his disability. Id. at 37-40.
Golden's last transfer request was denied, he first
exhausted his administrative remedies and then filed this
lawsuit, in which he seeks damages as well as declaratory and
injunctive relief. He and Defendants have filed cross motions
for summary judgment.
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). The Court gives “the non-moving
party the benefit of conflicts in the evidence and reasonable
inferences that could be drawn from it.”
Grochocinski v. Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw, LLP, 719
F.3d 785, 794 (7th Cir. 2013). In order to survive summary
judgment, the nonmoving party must “do more than simply
show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The nonmoving party
“must establish some genuine issue for trial such that
a reasonable jury could return a verdict in her favor,
” Gordon v. FedEx Freight, Inc., 674 F.3d 769,
772-73 (7th Cir. 2012).