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Farris v. Kurr

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 19, 2018

KENNETH B. FARRIS, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
SUSAN KURR, HEATHER CARPENTER WAMPLER, PHIL MARTIN, RANDY GROUNDS, ILLINOIS DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS, and WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Kenneth Farris, a former inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), brings this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated at Robinson Correctional Center (“Robinson”). Specifically, Farris alleges he has permanent paralysis in his right arm and right leg and, as a result, is confined to a wheelchair and requires assistance to perform activities of daily living. He contends that while at Robinson, he was not provided with an assistant or otherwise accommodated in order to perform his activities of daily living.

         Farris brings this action against IDOC, Robinson Warden Randy Grounds, Health Care Administrator and ADA Coordinator Phil Martin, Health Care Administrator and ADA Coordinator Susan Kerr, Director of Nursing Heather Carpenter Wampler, and Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”). He is proceeding on the following claims asserted in his First Amended Complaint (Doc. 39):

Count One: Violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act against the IDOC. Count Two: Violation of the Rehabilitation Act against the IDOC.
Count Three: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against Wexford, Kerr, Wampler, Martin, and Grounds.
Count Four: Eighth Amendment unconstitutional conditions of confinement claim against Wexford, Kerr, Wampler, Martin, and Grounds.

         This case is now before the Court on the Motions for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Wampler and Wexford (Doc. 93), Defendants Grounds, IDOC, Kerr, and Martin (Doc. 98), and Plaintiff (Docs. 99 and 101). Responses have been filed (Docs. 104, 109-110). For the following reasons, Defendants Wampler and Wexford's motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART, Defendants Grounds, IDOC, Kerr, and Martin's motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART, and Plaintiff's motions are DENIED.

         Background[1]

         In 2009, Kenneth Farris suffered a stroke that caused the permanent paralysis of his right arm and right leg (Deposition of Kenneth Farris, Doc. 94-1 at 4, 17). As a result of his paralysis, Farris is confined to a wheelchair (Id. at 4).

         Farris was incarcerated at Robinson from March 2015 to November 2015 (Id.). On March 28, 2015, Dr. Vipin Shah examined him and ordered the following: (1) a low bunk permit; (2) that Farris be medically unassigned (not be required to work); (3) a key lock rather than a combination lock; and (4) that Farris receive a wheelchair pusher or assistant for his activities of daily living (“ADLs”) - all for six months (Deposition of Dr. Vipin Shah, Doc. 94-6 at 9; see Doc. 98-3 at 3 and Doc. 98-5).

         Farris received a low bunk and a key lock, and was medically unassigned while he was at Robinson, but he was never assigned a wheelchair pusher or assistant (hereinafter referred to as an ADA attendant) (Doc. 94-1 at 6). Farris had previously been assigned an ADA attendant at another facility and the attendant helped Farris dress and transfer to the shower, and also pushed him to chow and retrieved his tray (Id. at 12-13). Because he did not have an attendant at Robinson, Farris had difficulty fastening his diapers, transferring from his bed to his chair, dressing, and otherwise managing his activities of daily living (Id. at 4, 17-18; see Doc. 103-9 at 2). Farris was able to transfer to the toilet in his dormitory which was ADA accessible, so long as he was already in his chair (Doc. 94-1 at 5-6, 18).

         Within about a week of his arrival at Robinson, Farris spoke with Health Care Administrator and ADA Coordinator Susan Kerr about the fact that he did not receive an ADA attendant (Id. at 13). He had approximately five conversations with Kerr about getting an attendant, but she always just responded that she was “working on it” (Id. at 14). Farris also submitted kites to Kerr, but they were either ignored or met with the same response (Id. at 7).

         On April 15, 2015, Farris submitted a grievance to his counselor, explaining that he is paralyzed on one side of his body and is unable to transfer alone or change his diapers (Doc. 103-9 at 2). After Farris' counselor responded to the grievance, it was reviewed by the grievance officer who interviewed Kerr (Id. at 2-3). According to the grievance officer's written response, Kerr stated that “ADA requirements are met throughout the facility” and she recommended that Farris change his diapers in the health care unit during medical line for more privacy (Id. at 3). The grievance officer ultimately recommended denial of Farris' grievance and Warden Randy Grounds concurred with the decision (Id.). Farris submitted another grievance concerning his issues on April 30, 2015, which was met with the same response by Kerr (Doc. 103-10). The grievance officer recommended that the April 30, 2015 grievance also be denied, and Warden Grounds concurred (Id.).

         Farris also submitted kites and spoke to Director of Nursing Heather Carpenter Wampler about not receiving an ADA attendant (Doc. 94-1 at 7). Wampler told Farris to get a friend to help him (Id. at 8). An April 27, 2015 grievance officer's report responding to one of Farris' grievances concerning the attendant issue indicates that Wampler was contacted regarding the same and remarked that there was no indication that Farris was to receive an attendant, and that he should write to Susan Kerr[2] (Doc. 103-20). Farris submitted another grievance on July 12, 2015, explaining that he is unable to care for himself and that Robinson is not ADA accessible for his needs (Doc. 103-11). The counselor's response cites the “DON” (Wampler), who indicated that Farris was housed in a dorm that is ADA/wheelchair accessible and that placement in the health care unit requires a medical order (Doc. 103-16 at 15; Doc. 103-11).

         Pursuant to IDOC Administrative Directive 04.03.101, offenders with a known disability “shall be referred to the Facility Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator for assessment of needed accommodations for access to programs and services” (Deposition of Susan Kerr, Doc. 94-2 at 11; Doc. 103-4 at 4). However, the Medical Director is responsible for determining if an inmate is disabled pursuant to the ADA at Robinson (Doc. 94-2 at 14). If the Medical Director orders that an inmate receive an ADA attendant, then IDOC is responsible for implementing the order (Deposition of Dr. Roderick Matticks, Doc. 94-4 at 9).

         During Farris' time at Robinson, disabled inmates were not always assigned an attendant. Instead, inmates were allowed to ask one of the other one hundred inmates on their wing to help them with their wheelchair (Deposition of Corporate Representative for the IDOC, Doc. 94-5 at 13). If an inmate was assigned to be an ADA attendant, such assignment would be made through the Placement Office (Doc. 94-5 at 9, 17).

         Discussion

         Summary judgment is appropriate only if the moving party can demonstrate “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); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322(1986); see also Ruffin- Thompkins v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., 422 F.3d 603, 607 (7th Cir. 2005). The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. Once a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party “must set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986).

         A genuine issue of material fact exists when “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Estate of Simpson v. Gorbett, 863 F.3d 740, 745 (7th Cir. 2017) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). In considering a summary judgment motion, the district court views the facts in the light most favorable to, and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of, the nonmoving party. Apex Digital, Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 735 F.3d 962, 965 (7th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).

         COUNTS ...


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