217 F.Supp.2d 958 (S.D.Iowa 2002), 401-CV-40625, Todd v. Graves

Docket Nº:401-CV-40625
Citation:217 F.Supp.2d 958
Party Name:Todd v. Graves
Case Date:July 03, 2002
Court:United States District Courts, 8th Circuit
 
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Page 958

217 F.Supp.2d 958 (S.D.Iowa 2002)

Hubert TODD, Jr., Plaintiff,

v.

Warden Leonard GRAVES, Deputy Warden Jim Helling, and Warden John Mathes, Defendants.

No. 4:01-CV-40625.

United States District Court, S.D. Iowa, Central Division.

July 3, 2002

Hubert Todd, Jr., Fort Madison, IA, pro se.

John B. Whitston, College of Law Legal Clinic, Iowa City, IA, for plaintiff.

Forrest Guddall, Atty. Gen., Special Litigation Div., Des Moines, IA, for defendants.

ORDER

GRITZNER, District Judge.

The Court has before it Defendants' Resisted Motion to Dismiss (Clerk's # 12). A hearing on the motion was held June 26, 2002, and the matter is now ready for ruling.

Page 959

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is an inmate at the Iowa State Penitentiary (ISP). The Defendants are the past and current warden of ISP and the deputy warden at ISP at the time the contested actions occurred. Plaintiff filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action pro se after his requests for furloughs to visit his hospitalized mother and then to attend her funeral were denied by the Defendants. He alleges that his requests were denied because he is African American. His original Complaint sought compensatory and punitive damages for the stress and mental anguish he suffered after the Defendants refused his requests for the furloughs. He subsequently was appointed counsel, and an Amended Complaint was filed. The Amended Complaint seeks compensatory, nominal, and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief, and asserts that the Defendants' discriminatory denials of his requests for furloughs aggravated his hypertension and caused him emotional pain, suffering, and mental anguish.

Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss, contending that the Plaintiff's action is barred by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e) of the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Section 1997e(e), entitled Limitation on Recovery, provides:

No Federal civil action may be brought by a prisoner confined in a jail, prison or other correctional facility, for mental or emotional injury suffered while in custody without a prior showing of physical injury.

Defendants argued in their brief that because Plaintiff failed to allege physical injury, his action should be dismissed. At the hearing on the motion to dismiss, however, Defendants conceded that 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e) would bar only the plaintiff's request for compensatory damages for mental and emotional distress. They are not seeking dismissal of the entire case. The only issue before the Court, therefore, is whether Plaintiff's claim for compensatory damages for the emotional pain, suffering, and mental anguish he suffered has a legal basis to proceed.

Plaintiff resists the dismissal of his claim for these compensatory damages on two grounds. First, he claims that he has alleged a physical injury, and therefore that 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e) does not apply. Second, he argues that the physical injury requirement should not apply to claims of intentional discrimination brought under the Fourteenth Amendment. The court grants the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Plaintiff's claim for compensatory damages for emotional pain, suffering, and mental anguish for the reasons that follow.

II. PHYSICAL INJURY

Plaintiff contends that he has...

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