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Morris v. Baldwin

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 23, 2018

BARRY MORRIS, Plaintiff,
JOHN BALDWIN, et al., Defendants.



         The matter has been referred to United States Magistrate Judge Reona J. Daly by United States District Judge David R. Herndon pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b), and SDIL-LR 72.1(a) for a Report and Recommendation on Plaintiff's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction (Doc. 13). For the reasons set forth below, it is RECOMMENDED that the District Court ADOPT the following findings of fact and conclusions of law, and Plaintiff's Motion be DENIED.

         Findings of Fact

         Plaintiff Barry Morris, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections, filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 alleging his constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated at Menard (“Menard”) Correctional Center. He is currently proceeding on the following claims:

Count 1 - IDOC failed to provide reasonable accommodation for Plaintiff's disability in violation of the ADA and RA;
Count 2 - Baldwin, Lashbrook, Hawkins, Walls, and Wexford were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's request for accommodation and treatment of his disabilities in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

         Plaintiff filed the Motion as a TRO/Injunction (Doc. 13). Judge Herndon entered an Order (Doc. 14) denying the request for a Temporary Restraining Order and referring the request for a Preliminary Injunction. Plaintiff requests the following injunctive relief: Transfer out of Menard to a facility that can reasonably accommodate his disabilities such as Dixon Correctional Special Treatment Center, and the use of crutches to get in and out of his wheelchair to improve his mobility. Defendants respond that Plaintiff was provided crutches on December 21, 2017, is allowed use of the crutches anytime he is out of his cell, and he is being provided other reasonable accommodations for his disabilities.

         Morris states in his Complaint that he suffers from a herniated disc and severe spinal stenosis, nerve damage in his right hand/arm, which is also partially paralyzed, benign prostatic hyperplasia (an enlarged prostate), and high blood pressure. He alleges that he is deprived of reasonable accommodations for his disabilities and access to prison activities and opportunities. Morris testified to the following conditions: the restroom in the law library does not have handrails so he is unable to use this restroom during his library time; the phones on the yard are placed so that you have to stand to use them and he is unable to stand for a prolonged period of time to use the phones; he is unable to participate in classes in the school building because it has stairs and he is uncomfortable climbing the stairs with his crutches; the personal property building has stairs so he is unable to access his excess legal boxes and personal property; the commissary walkway is too narrow to navigate with crutches; the sidewalks on the yard are too narrow to navigate with a wheelchair or crutches; and he is unable to access the MP3 kiosks that other inmates can access.

         Dwayne Hill, the physical therapist assistant at Menard, testified that Morris was provided with crutches on December 21, 2017. Hill testified he trained Morris in the use of crutches, including the use on stairs, and that they walked up and down flights of stairs during Morris's physical therapy session. Hill has also offered Morris additional training to teach him how to side-step using crutches but Morris has declined. Hill testified that Morris should be able to safely access buildings with stairs. Morris acknowledged that has not been told by a medical professional that he should not use stairs; he chooses not to climb stairs with crutches because he does not trust his legs and is afraid they will give out on stairs.

         Angela Crane, the Menard ADA coordinator, testified that Morris has been provided the following accommodations: crutches for all out-of-cell activity, a wheelchair for long distances, ADA van access for all transportation, a brace for carpel tunnel, double mattresses, physical therapy two times per week, and an alternative cuffing permit. She further testified that an inmate that cannot access the commissary is provided the option of having commissary items delivered to his cell and an inmate that cannot navigate the stairs of the property building can have his property brought to him. Crane testified that Menard is currently in the process of having some of the phones lowered to 48 inches and relocating some of the kiosks to make them accessible and that these modifications should occur in the near future. Crane explained many of the buildings on the Menard campus are not ADA compliant, but that when an inmate complains of an accessibility issue, she works with the inmate to find a reasonable accommodation.

         Conclusions of Law

         “The purpose of preliminary injunctive relief is to minimize the hardship to the parties pending the ultimate resolution of the lawsuit.” Platinum Home Mortg. Corp. v. Platinum Fin. Group, Inc., 149 F.3d 722, 726 (7th Cir.1998). “In order to obtain a preliminary injunction, the moving party must show that: (1) they are reasonably likely to succeed on the merits; (2) no adequate remedy at law exists; (3) they will suffer irreparable harm which, absent injunctive relief, outweighs the irreparable harm the respondent will suffer if the injunction is granted; and (4) the injunction will not harm the public interest.” Joelner v. Village of Washington Park, Illinois, 378 F.3d 613, 619 (7th Cir. 2004).

         Here, Plaintiff has been provided with crutches so the only requested injunctive relief he has not been provided is a transfer from Menard. Plaintiff has failed to show that he will suffer irreparable harm absent this injunctive relief. There is no evidence that he is in immediate danger of harm. He has access to a wheelchair and crutches and every ADA accommodation recommended by medical professionals is being provided. Further, Plaintiff has failed to show that he is reasonably likely to succeed on the merits of his claim that Defendants failed to provide reasonable accommodation or that they are deliberately indifferent to his request for accommodation and treatment of his disabilities. Records indicate that he has permits for at least seven accommodations. Further, Plaintiff provided no evidence of how his conditions or medical care would differ upon transfer. Any harm alleged by Plaintiff does not outweigh the undue hardship that interference with inmate placement would place on IDOC.

         Reco ...

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