Ramona Hinojosa v Brad Livingston and Ors (2014) H&FLR 2014-28
United States District Court (S.D. Texas)
16 January 2014
Coram: Ramos J
Catchwords: Texas – prison – negligence – hyperthermia – hypertension – diabetes – depression – schizophrenia – obesity – death – Americans with Disabilities Act – Rehabilitation Act – Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
Facts: On 29 August 2012 the plaintiff’s son died of hyperthermia while incarcerated in a prison operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant had failed to accommodate the deceased’s disabilities (particularised as hypertension, diabetes, depression, schizophrenia and obesity), resulting in his death. It was contended that this breached the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 USC §12132) and the Rehabilitation Act (29 USC §794), giving her a entitlement to recover damages.
The defendant applied to dismiss the proceedings for failure to state a claim under r. 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, or alternatively that she be required to re-plead sufficient facts to identify the elements of her causes of action under the Acts.
Held: Denying the application, that –
1. It was sufficient to state a claim for the plaintiff to allege that the defendant knew of the risks and dangers of certain health conditions and medications, that it knew the deceased suffered from those conditions and used those medications, and that despite having that knowledge, the defendant failed to make reasonable accommodations, as a result of which the deceased suffered greater pain and punishment than non-disabled prisoners (i.e. death). Although all inmates faced the same environmental conditions, they were more burdensome for the deceased because of his disabilities.
2. If a defendant knows of an individual’s disability and needs but takes no action, it will not be necessary for the disabled person to have requested an accommodation to state a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
McCoy v Texas Department of Criminal Justice, CA No. C-05-370 (S.D. Tex. May 19, 2006), followed
The Court’s judgment is available here.