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Garland v. McCreary County Fiscal Court

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

December 16, 2013



DANNY C. REEVES, District Judge.

John Roscoe Garland is a death-row inmate confined at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville, Kentucky. Proceeding without an attorney, Garland has filed a Complaint against Defendants McCreary County, Kentucky; the McCreary County Fiscal Court; the Kentucky Association of Counties; and John and Jane Does, sued as "Unknown Defendant Employees of McCreary Fiscal Courthouse." [Record No. 1] After conducting a preliminary review of the Complaint, the Court has determined that Garland's claims will be dismissed.


In 1999, Garland was convicted for the murders of Willa Jean Ferrier, Crystal Conatser, and Chris Boswell and sentenced to death. Garland v. Commonwealth, 2011 Ky. Unpub. LEXIS 54, at *1 (Ky. May 19, 2011). Garland alleges that, on November 11, 2011, he attended a hearing at the McCreary County Courthouse regarding certain post-conviction remedies. [Record No. 1] He claims that the hearing was held on the second floor of the building and that he was required to negotiate stairs to obtain access to the courtroom, despite the fact that he is disabled regarding "hearing, vision, breathing and mobility." [ Id., p. 11] Garland states that, following the hearing, and while he was descending the stairs from the second floor, he was injured when he tripped, slipped, and fell. [ Id. ] Garland makes a number of claims against the defendants arising out of that alleged incident.

Garland's Complaint includes alleged violations of his rights under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. ("ADA"), and the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794 ("RA"); denial of certain rights under the United States Constitution in conjunction with 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and violations of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, KRS § 344.010 et seq. He also asserts state law negligence claims against the defendants, contending that they were negligent for failing to train employees regarding the proper handling of disabled persons. Garland requests injunctive relief as well as compensatory damages of $10, 000, 000.00 for pain and suffering, permanent injury, future impairment, loss of enjoyment of his major daily life and activities, and unspecified punitive damages. [Record No. 1]


Because Garland asserts claims against governmental entities and employees, the Court must conduct a preliminary review of his complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. A district court must dismiss any claim that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 607-08 (6th Cir. 1997). The Court evaluates Garland's Complaint under a more lenient standard because he is not represented by an attorney. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Burton v. Jones, 321 F.3d 569, 573 (6th Cir. 2003). At this stage, the Court accepts Garland's factual allegations as true and liberally construes legal claims in his favor. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).


A. ADA and RA Claims

1. Individual Defendants

Garland claims that Unknown Defendant Employees of McCreary Fiscal Courthouse, "John and Jane Does, " violated the ADA and RA because they denied him access to the elevator in the courthouse. These claims against the defendants in their individual capacities will be dismissed because there is no individual liability under Title II of the ADA.[1] Sagan v. Sumner Cnty. Bd. of Educ., 726 F.Supp.2d 868, 875 (M.D. Tenn. 2010) (citing Carten v. Kent State Univ., 282 F.3d 391, 396-97 (6th Cir. 2002)). And it is well-established that public employees may not be sued in their individual capacity under the ADA or RA. Williams v. McLemore, 247 F.Appx. 1 (6th Cir. 2007); see also Sullivan v. River Valley Sch. Dist., 197 F.3d 804, 808, n.1 (6th Cir. 1999) (holding that the ADA does not permit public employees or supervisors to be sued in their individual capacity).

2. Title II Claims

Garland claims that the defendants violated Title II of the ADA because they failed to provide accommodations to qualified disabled persons who are required to attend courtroom proceedings in the McCreary County Courthouse. Garland claims that he was discriminated against because he had to use stairs to access and leave the courtroom. The ADA and RA state, in relevant part, that "[n]o qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity." 42 U.S.C. § 12132 (emphasis added).[2] To establish a prima facie case under Title II of the ADA, a plaintiff must show that he or she has a disability, is otherwise qualified and is being excluded from participation in, being denied the benefits of, or being subjected to discrimination under the program solely because of his disability. Jones v. City of Monroe, 341 F.3d 474, 477 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Doe v. Univ. of Md. Med. Sys. Corp., 50 F.3d 1261, 1265 (4th Cir. 1995)). Additionally, "[c]ompensatory damages may be recovered under the ADA only if the plaintiffs prove intentional discrimination." Tucker v. Tenn., 443 F.Supp.2d 971, 973 (W.D. Tenn. 2006). "Further, the plaintiff must show that the discrimination was intentionally directed toward him or her in particular." Tucker v. Tenn., 539 F.3d 526, 532 (6th Cir. 2008) (emphasis added).

Assuming Garland is disabled, [3] he fails to demonstrate that he was excluded from any programs or services offered by the McCreary Fiscal Court or McCreary County Courthouse solely "by reason of such disability." Jones, 341 F.3d at 477. Garland "must allege either that [he is or was] perceived to be handicapped within the definitions of each of the acts.... and that [he was] discriminated against on the basis of [his] disability." Andrews v. State of Ohio, 104 F.3d 803, 807 (6th Cir. 1997); Henrietta D. v. Bloomberg, 331 F.3d 261, 277-79 (2d Cir. 2003) (holding that ADA plaintiffs must show ...

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