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McKinnie v. Sheriff of Cook County

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

March 22, 2018



          John Z. Lee United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Berl McKinnie, a detainee in Cook County Jail, filed a complaint bringing claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq., and the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794. McKinnie, who has a prosthetic leg, alleges that Thomas Dart, Sheriff of Cook County, Illinois, and Cook County, Illinois (collectively “Defendants”) violated his constitutional and statutory rights by (1) failing to provide McKinnie with an accessible shower in his housing unit; and (2) failing to adopt a policy providing non-wheelchair-bound, disabled detainees with an accessible toilet while in lockup at the Leighton Courthouse. McKinnie has now moved for partial summary judgment against Defendants on his ADA claim relating to the accessible shower. For the reasons that follow, the Court denies McKinnie's motion.


         Berl McKinnie has been detained at the Cook County Jail since September 17, 2014. Pl.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 1, ECF No. 39. McKinnie's right leg is amputated below the knee and he wears a prosthetic leg, which he must remove to shower. Id. ¶¶ 2, 3.

         In March 2016, McKinnie was housed in Division 8, Tier 3F. Id. ¶ 9. Tier 3F has five shower stalls, one of which is an accessible stall for people with mobility disabilities, with a fixed bench and grab bars, as required by ADA design standards. Id. ¶ 13. While none of the showers in the tier have doors, the ADA-compliant shower is the least private because of its location, near a window that people walk by. Defs.' LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶¶ 30, 31, ECF No. 46; id., Ex. A, Rivero-Canchola Dep. at 21:14-23, ECF No. 46-2. McKinnie testified that he always enters the shower fully clothed and undresses in the shower, rather than wearing a towel into the shower area. Pl.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt., Ex. 2, McKinnie Dep. at 36:18-23, ECF No. 39. When using the ADA-compliant shower, McKinnie sits on the fixed bench to take off his clothes and prosthesis. Defs.' LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 32.

         According to McKinnie, he always uses the ADA-compliant shower except when it is malfunctioning. McKinnie Dep. at 9:22-10:7. As of March 15, 2016, the ADA-compliant shower in the tier had been malfunctioning for more than three months. Pl.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 14. The water in the ADA-compliant shower stall would not shut off, with the lower shower head constantly running. Id. ¶ 15. As a result, there was always standing water in the ADA-compliant shower area. Id.; Defs.' LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶¶ 33, 34.

         The parties dispute whether the shower was usable while it was malfunctioning. See Pl.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 14; Defs.' Resp. Pl.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 14, ECF No. 45. According to the ADA Compliance Officer, Sabrina Rivero-Canchola, the shower was “usable” at all times because the water was running and the temperature was adequate. Rivero-Canchola Dep. at 30:14-24. But McKinnie testified that, due to the standing water, he would need to hop on one leg to use the malfunctioning ADA-compliant shower, a move he claims is “extremely dangerous.” McKinnie Dep. at 19:10-18; Pl.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 19. Further, he claimed that, when the water was running, he could not sit on the bench to take his clothes off in the ADA-compliant stall, and the only other option would be to “take your clothes off in your living area and walk in the bathroom naked.” McKinnie Dep. at 19:3-9. Defendants dispute that it is necessary for McKinnie to hop into the shower, contending that he could have removed his clothes in his living unit and simply walked to the shower. Defs.' Resp. Pl.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 19 (citing McKinnie Dep. at 19:3-9, 19-24).

         Before March 16, 2016, McKinnie had complained about the malfunctioning ADA-compliant shower to Officer Rivero-Canchola, every officer in his tier, and several sergeants at the jail. Pl.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 20. Workers had attempted to repair the ADA-compliant shower repeatedly without success. Id. ¶ 21. McKinnie had not, however, filed any formal grievances regarding the shower. Defs.' LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 13.

         McKinnie was permitted to use a plastic activity chair to shower in non-ADA shower stalls when the ADA-compliant shower was malfunctioning. Pl.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 24; Defs.' Resp. Pl.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 24. The plastic activity chair is not a “shower chair” for people with mobility disabilities to use while showering. Rivero-Canchola Dep. at 18:23-20:8. Moreover, McKinnie experienced pain using the chair in a non-ADA stall that he would not have experienced in a functional ADA-compliant shower. Pl.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶¶ 24, 25; McKinnie Dep. at 21:5-7.

         On March 16, 2016, Sergeant Daily, a correctional officer, refused to give McKinnie permission to use the plastic chair to shower in a non-ADA stall, even though McKinnie explained that the ADA-compliant shower was broken. Pl's. LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶¶ 27, 28. McKinnie directed the correctional officer's attention to a sign posted in the tier that stated that a shower chair is available for people with disabilities. Id. ¶¶ 30, 31. The sergeant still refused to allow McKinnie to use the activity chair.[2] Id. ¶ 32. McKinnie then complained to two nurses and an officer about the sergeant's conduct, but he was not provided with a chair. Id. ¶ 33. A few hours later, McKinnie attempted to shower in a non-ADA stall despite not having the chair. Id. ¶ 34; McKinnie Dep. at 22:15-23:14. He first sat on the floor, removed his clothes and prosthetic leg, placed them outside the shower, and then maneuvered to a standing position on his left leg. Pl's. LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 35. McKinnie was in pain while standing on his one leg. Id. ¶ 36. He then lost his balance, fell backwards, and hit his head. Id. ¶ 37. McKinnie was transported to Stroger Hospital for treatment. Id. ¶ 38.

         According to Rivero-Canchola, McKinnie spoke to her about the broken shower a few days after his fall, when McKinnie's grievance about the shower reached her desk. See Rivero-Canchola Dep. at 27:22-28:9. Rivero-Canchola claims that McKinnie told her that “he fell because he tried to use the regular shower, and he wanted more privacy, and then he said he fell because he didn't have a shower chair, and then he said he fell because the shower was broken.” Id. at 28:10-16. According to Rivero-Canchola, the first thing McKinnie told her was that he wanted to shower in a non-ADA shower for privacy reasons. Id. at 31:8-16; Defs.' LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 29. McKinnie disputes that he spoke to Rivero-Canchola during the relevant time period and asserts that he never told her that he wanted to use the non-ADA stall “for privacy reasons or any reason other than the unusability of the accessible stall.” See Pl.'s Resp. Defs.' LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 18, ECF No. 53; id. Ex. 18, McKinnie Declaration ¶ 4.

         Legal 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). 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), and instead 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).

         In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court gives the nonmoving 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). The Court must not make credibility determinations or weigh ...

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