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Robinson v. Pfister

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

September 11, 2019

RANDY PFISTER, et al. Defendants.


          Joan B. Gottschall, United States District Judge

         In his Second Amended Complaint (“SAC, ” ECF No. 83), former Illinois prisoner Maurice L. Robinson (“Robinson”) brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments; the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.; and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Rehabilitation Act”), 29 U.S.C. § 794 et seq., against eight defendants. See SAC 7-14. Three motions to dismiss the SAC for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted are before the court. For the following reasons, the court grants two of the motions and denies the third.

         I. Background

         Robinson filed his original complaint pro se. ECF No. 1. The court screened the complaint and dismissed certain claims and defendants. See ECF No. 5 (screening order); 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(b)(1), (2). Randy Pfister (“Pfister”), warden of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”), appeared and moved to dismiss the complaint against them. The court granted his motion by order dated August 18, 2017. ECF No. 24. At a hearing held February 23, 2018, Robinson's lawyer obtained leave to file an amended complaint. ECF No. 45; see also Am. Compl., ECF No. 46.

         Two motions to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to state a claim followed. ECF Nos. 54, 73. Before his deadline to respond to the second motion, Robinson moved for leave to file a second amended complaint. ECF No. 79. The court granted the motion on December 7, 2018, ECF No. 82, and the SAC was filed on December 14, 2018.

         When deciding a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss a complaint, the court assumes that the operative complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations are true and draws all reasonable inferences from those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Manistee Apartments, LLC v. City of Chicago, 844 F.3d 630, 633 (7th Cir. 2016). The SAC alleges as follows:

         Robinson has a prosthetic lower left extremity. SAC ¶ 17. Beginning on or about December 10, 2015, he spent five months in the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”) in Joliet, Illinois. SAC ¶ 15. Robinson alleges that he requested a shower chair during his initial medical evaluation and that he subsequently asked “several different staff at Stateville” for a chair. SAC ¶ 20. But Robinson never received a shower chair, and his “needs were continually ignored.” SAC ¶¶ 21-23. As a result of not showering for five months, Robinson developed body sores; they were not treated until he was transferred to another IDOC facility. SAC ¶¶ 23-33.

         Robinson names eight defendants in the SAC. He sues IDOC and Wexford, a private company which provides healthcare services at Stateville, and Stateville itself as a defendant. See SAC ¶¶ 10-12. The court refers to Will County, Illinois (“Will County”) and the City of Crest Hill collectively as the Will County defendants. SAC ¶¶ 13-14. The final three defendants are individuals: Pfister, Stateville's warden; Mary Schwarz ("Schwarz"), the physician's assistant who conducted Robinson's medical intake procedure; and Ester Martin (“Martin”), a nurse supervisor at Stateville. SAC ¶¶ 7-9, 15. Wexford employs Schwarz; Pfister and Martin work for IDOC. SAC ¶¶ 7-9.

         The SAC has four counts. Counts I and IV arise under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Count I alleges that IDOC, Pfister, Martin, and Schwarz were deliberately indifferent to Robinson's serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. SAC ¶¶ 41-47. In Count IV, Robinson pleads that the “de facto” policies and customs of IDOC, Stateville, and the Will County defendants caused the above violations in that the named defendants did not “provide the equipment required to accommodate and provide adequate medical care to detainees with prosthetic limbs.” SAC ¶ 68. Counts II and III assert, respectively, ADA and Rehabilitation Act claims against Stateville, IDOC, and the Will County defendants for failing to accommodate Robinson's disability by providing a shower chair. SAC ¶¶ 50-66.

         II. Legal Standard

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion “tests the sufficiency of the complaint, not the merits of the case.” McReynolds v. Merrill Lynch & Co., 694 F.3d 873, 878 (7th Cir. 2012) (internal quotation marks omitted). A complaint need only set forth a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). That is, the complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim satisfies this standard when its factual allegations “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 545; see also Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 404 (7th Cir. 2010). For purposes of a motion to dismiss, the court takes all facts alleged by the plaintiff as true and draws all reasonable inferences from those facts in the plaintiff's favor, although conclusory allegations that merely recite the elements of a claim are not entitled to this presumption of truth. Virnich v. Vorwald, 664 F.3d 206, 212 (7th Cir. 2011).

         III. Analysis

         The separate motions filed by (1) Wexford; (2) Pfister and IDOC; and (3) the Will County defendants sometimes raise overlapping issues.

         A. Stateville Is Not a Suable Entity

         Robinson names the Stateville Correctional Institution as a defendant separate from the IDOC, Pfister, and the individual defendants. SAC ¶ 10. Illinois law determines whether Stateville can be sued in its own name. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 17(b). District courts in Illinois have held uniformly that “Stateville Correctional Center is not a suable entity.” Lee v. Lemke, 1996 WL 166944, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 15, 1996) (citing Hughes v. Joliet Corr. Ctr., 931 F.2d 425, 427 (7th Cir. 1991)); accord Taylor v. Stateville Dep't of Corr., 2010 WL 5014185, at *2 (N.D. Ill.Dec. 1, 2010); see also Williams v. I.D.O.C. Law Library Program, 1997 WL 106174, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 27, 1996); cf. Smith v. Knox Cty. Jail, 66 ...

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