Amos v. Maryland Dept. of Public Safety and Correctional Services

Citation126 F.3d 589
Decision Date22 September 1997
Docket NumberNo. 96-7091,96-7091
Parties7 A.D. Cases 454, 24 A.D.D. 51, 10 NDLR P 380 Granville AMOS; Harvey W. Bloxom; Michael A. Holt; Teddy T. Jones; Charles Madison; Howard Megginson; Boris Prymeran; Gary Ralph; John Smith; Michael Hilman Smith; William Lewis Smith; Calvin J. Whiting; Dennis Brian Absher, Plaintiffs-Appellants, and Winfried Lee Rhodes, Plaintiff, v. MARYLAND DEPT. OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES; Roxbury Correctional Institution, Hagerstown, Maryland; Richard Lanham, Sr., in his official capacity as Commissioner, Maryland Division of Correction; John P. Galley, in his official capacity as Warden, Roxbury Correctional Institution; Ronald Moats, Warden, Roxbury Correctional Institution; William Smith, Warden, Maryland House of Correction, Defendants-Appellees. United States of America, Amicus Curiae.
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)

ARGUED: Marjorie Lynn Rifkin, National Prison Project, ACLU Foundation, Washington, DC; Andrew Marc Dansicker, Hoguet, Newman & Regal, New York City, for Appellants. John Burnside Howard, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General, Baltimore, MD, for Appellees. ON BRIEF: Margaret Winter, Eric Balaban, National Prison Project, ACLU Foundation, Washington, DC, for Appellants. J. Joseph Curran, Jr., Attorney General of Maryland, Carmen M. Shepard, Assistant Attorney General, Stephanie Lane-Weber, Assistant Attorney General, Baltimore, MD, for Appellees. Deval L. Patrick, Assistant Attorney General, David K. Flynn, Lisa Wilson Edwards, Linda F. Thome, United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC, for Amicus Curiae.

Before MURNAGHAN and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges, and CLARKE, Senior United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, sitting by designation.

Affirmed by published opinion. Judge WILLIAMS wrote the opinion, in which Senior Judge CLARKE joined. Judge MURNAGHAN wrote an opinion dissenting in part.


WILLIAMS, Circuit Judge:

Thirteen disabled Maryland state prisoners incarcerated at the Roxbury Correctional Institution (RCI) in Hagerstown, Maryland, brought this suit against RCI; the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (MDPSCS); Richard Lanham, the Commissioner of the Maryland Division of Correction; and John P. Galley, the Warden of RCI (collectively Appellees). The prisoners complain, inter alia, that Appellees (1) denied them the opportunity to participate in work release and pre-release programs because of their disabilities, resulting in a denial of benefits, training, and rehabilitation, and in longer sentences; (2) denied them equal access to bathrooms, athletic facilities, the "honor tier," and food services at RCI because of their disabilities; (3) denied them adequate medical attention and hygienic facilities; (4) failed to make reasonable accommodations to ensure the safety of disabled inmates; and (5) assigned them to RCI because of their disabilities, thereby depriving them of the opportunity to serve their sentences at available facilities closer to their homes. The prisoners claim that Appellees' conduct violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), see 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 12131-12165 (West 1995 & Supp.1997); § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, see 29 U.S.C.A. § 794 (West Supp.1997). The prisoners also brought suit under 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983 (West Supp.1997), claiming that Appellees' conduct violated the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The district court granted summary judgment for Appellees. Relying on our decision in Torcasio v. Murray, 57 F.3d 1340 (4th Cir.1995), the district court concluded that the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act do not apply to state correctional facilities. We agree. After painstakingly reexamining our decision in Torcasio, we are convinced that Torcasio 's analysis of the issue is, indeed, compelling, and that the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA do not apply in the state prison context. Nothing in the opinions of those courts holding to the contrary even begins to refute the careful analysis we undertook in Torcasio. In reaching the conclusion that these Acts do not apply, and could not possibly be applied in the context of prison facilities, we are (and we believe that the Supreme Court will ultimately find itself) persuaded in no small measure by the extraordinarily circuitous statutory analyses which those courts reaching the contrary conclusion have undertaken and the considerable extra-interpretive energies that those courts have been forced to expend in order to limit the systemic chaos that would otherwise have followed on their holdings that these statutes apply to the Nation's myriad state prisons. In addition, the district court determined that the prisoners had failed to raise genuine issues of fact material on the question of whether their keepers were deliberately indifferent to their serious medical needs. Again, we agree. Accordingly, we affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment for Appellees on the prisoners' statutory and constitutional claims.


Although Appellees dispute many of the factual allegations made by the prisoners, we set forth the facts in the light most favorable to the prisoners for purposes of evaluating the appropriateness of summary judgment. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2513-14, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986) (holding that in determining whether summary judgment is appropriate, "[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor"); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Because we conclude that the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act do not apply to state prisons, we recite only the facts relevant to the prisoners' constitutional claims.

Prisoners at RCI, disabled and non-disabled alike, receive medical attention when necessary from Prison Health Services, Inc. (PHS), a private medical care contractor. PHS provides a broad array of medical services, including general dispensary services, sick-call services, and infirmary services. In addition, PHS uses Washington County Hospital as an adjunct medical care provider for medical services that cannot be performed at the prison.

Prisoners may complain about the medical care provided (or not provided) through an Administrative Remedy Procedure (ARP) in place at the prison. Pursuant to this procedure, a prisoner fills out an ARP form to complain about medical care he has received or to request medical attention, which is transmitted to the Warden. The Warden then forwards the complaint or request to his administrative remedy coordinator for investigation and resolution.

Six of the thirteen disabled prisoners in this case--Granville Amos, William Smith, Michael Smith, Howard Megginson, Gary Ralph, and Boris Prymerman--contend that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to their serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. 1 Appellant Granville Amos, who is partially paralyzed as the result of a 1989 gunshot wound, filed six ARPs with the Warden between June 3, 1991, and November 22, 1991, complaining that he was not receiving in a timely fashion medication for back pain and spasms. In each instance, the Warden promptly responded to Amos' complaint by acknowledging "that a gap in your medication did occur with the Dispensary at least partially responsible," and by assuring Amos that steps were being taken to "decrease the possibility of a reoccurrence of this problem." (J.A. at 869.) The Warden informed Amos that he was "directing the CMS Medical Provider to insure [sic] that this does not reoccur." (J.A. at 872.) In response to Amos' final ARP, the Warden stated:

In spite of all efforts by staff, the problems with prescription medications has [sic] persisted through most of November due to the non-delivery by the Pharmacy. It is recognized that these difficulties do not negate the medical suppliers [sic] obligation to provide these medications. The new Pharmacy is now on line and it is anticipated that a dramatic lessening of lapses of this type will occur.

(J.A. at 888.)

Appellant William Smith is partially paralyzed and wheelchair dependent, and suffers from bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, hypertension, and lymphocytic leukemia. In 1992, a physician suggested that Smith consider undergoing surgery to correct his carpal tunnel syndrome. Unidentified prison employees then told Smith that he had been scheduled for carpal tunnel surgery, but the surgery was never performed. In addition, in 1992, a physician recommended diagnostic tests to ascertain the cause of Smith's back pain. Like the surgery, the tests have never been performed.

Appellant Michael Smith, also paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, suffers from chronic back pain, hypertension, and bladder problems. In 1988, he was prescribed Valium to prevent leg spasms, and received Valium until his release from prison in 1991. In 1993, he was incarcerated again, first at the Maryland Penitentiary, and then, beginning in December 1994, at RCI. Although Smith received Valium while incarcerated at the Maryland Penitentiary, medical staff at RCI prescribed substitute medication that was not as effective as Valium. Smith submitted two "Sick-Call Request & Encounter Forms," one on December 9, 1995, and another on March 14, 1995. Each requested that a physician see him about the problem with his medication. On March 17, 1995, Dr. Charles E. Potts of the prison medical staff wrote to Smith that he would "arrange for a meeting with you next week to address your concerns." (J.A. at 866.) A few weeks later, in April 1995, Smith's Valium prescription was renewed.

Appellant Howard Megginson, also paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, suffered recurrent urinary tract infections while imprisoned at RCI. He filed two ARPs "concerning the urine [sic] infection." (J.A. at 727.) In both...

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