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Cook v. Illinois Department of Corrections

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 4, 2018

DWAYNE COOK, Plaintiff,


          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Dwayne Cook filed an amended complaint in this action on July 12, 2016, alleging claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, and the Eighth Amendment (Doc. 49). Defendant Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment arguing that Cook cannot provide evidence to support any of his claims (Doc. 68). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion for Summary Judgment is denied.


         Plaintiff Dwayne Cook was previously incarcerated in the IDOC as a result of several driving-related convictions (Doc. 7, p. 1). When his criminal sentences were imposed, the trial judge included an order that Cook was to receive addiction services while incarcerated (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 8-9). It is undisputed that, prior to filing this action, Cook was twice approved for transfer to facilities that provided addiction treatment programs, but both times his transfer was cancelled because the facilities were not ADA compliant (Doc. 68-1, p. 12; Doc. 68-3, p. 2). Cook is confined to a wheelchair, which he uses for all of his mobility (Doc. 49, p. 2).

         Only two IDOC facilities contain ADA accessible drug treatment programs (Doc. 68-6, p. 2). During the time Cook was incarcerated, the IDOC had four to five wheelchair-accessible cells in the treatment program at Taylorville Correctional Center, and one wheelchair-accessible cell in the treatment program at Big Muddy Correctional Center. (Doc. 68-6, pp. 2-3). A few weeks after filing this lawsuit, Cook again was approved and eventually transferred to Big Muddy (Doc. 68-1, p. 30).

         It is undisputed that Cook received no substance abuse treatment either before his transfer to Big Muddy (Doc. 68-1, p. 30) or for a year after his transfer (see Doc. 67-1, p. 20). It is also undisputed that, contrary to IDOC policy, Cook had less than six months remaining on his sentence when he was finally placed in the substance abuse program at Big Muddy (Doc. 68-1, p. 18). While IDOC records indicate he completed a nine-month substance abuse program, Cook's counselor admitted in her deposition that Cook only received about four months of treatment (Doc. 67-1, p. 25). Further, the counselor admitted that had Cook not been released from custody, she would have recommended he remain in the substance abuse program (Id.).

         Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is proper only where the moving party can demonstrate no genuine issue of material fact exists and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Ruffin-Thompkins v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., 422 F.3d 603, 607 (7th Cir. 2005). All facts and reasonable inferences must be construed in favor of the non-moving party. Blow v. Bijora, Inc., 855 F.3d 793, 797 (7th Cir. 2017) (citing Calumet River Fleeting, Inc. v. Int'l Union of Operating Eng'rs, Local 150, AFL-CIO, 824 F.3d 645, 647-48 (7th Cir. 2016)).

         After a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party “must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2)). A fact is material if it is outcome determinative under applicable law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Ballance v. City of Springfield, Ill. Police Dep't, 424 F.3d 614, 616 (7th Cir. 2005). A genuine issue of material fact exists if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. “A mere scintilla of evidence in support of the non-movant's petition is insufficient; a party will be successful in opposing summary judgment only when it presents definite, competent evidence to rebut the motion.” Albiero v. City of Kankakee, 246 F.3d 927, 931-32 (7th Cir. 2001) (rev'd on other grounds).

         The Seventh Circuit has stated that summary judgment is “the put up or shut up moment in a lawsuit, when a party must show what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of the events.” Steen v. Myers, 486 F.3d 1017, 1022 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Hammel v. Eau Galle Cheese Factory, 407 F.3d 852, 859 (7th Cir. 2005) (other citations omitted)). The judge's role at summary judgment, however, is not to weigh the evidence or assess the facts, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 259. Credibility determinations, weighing of evidence, and drawing of reasonable inferences from the facts are left to the jury. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250.


         A. ADA Claim

         A plaintiff will make out a prima facie case of discrimination under both the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act[1] by showing he: (1) suffers from a disability as defined in the statutes, (2) is qualified to participate in the program in question, and (3) was either excluded from participating in or denied the benefit of that program based on a disability. Novak v. Bd. of Trustees of S. Ill. Univ., 77 F.3d 966, 974 (7th Cir. 2015) (citing Jackson v. City of Chicago, 414 F.3d 806, 810 (7th Cir. 2005)).

         Here, it is undisputed that Cook is disabled-both as a person who uses a wheelchair for mobility and as an alcoholic (Doc. 67, p. 4). Thus, the first element of the prima facie case is met. While the IDOC makes much out of the fact that correctional facilities are not constitutionally required to provide drug treatment programs (Doc. 67, pp. 4-5), it admits that inmates cannot be subject to discrimination for those programs it chooses to provide (Doc. 67, p. 6). Further, the IDOC repeatedly approved and ultimately placed Cook in a treatment program (Doc. 67, p. 5). Thus, the Court finds that Cook was qualified to participate in the addiction treatment programs ...

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