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Peter Salvador Medina v. Phillip Valdez; Corrections Corporation of America

March 10, 2011

PETER SALVADOR MEDINA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PHILLIP VALDEZ; CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA; IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION; AND IDAHO PAROLE BOARD; DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable B. Lynn Winmill Chief U. S. District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

Pending before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 42) filed by Defendants Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Phillip Valdez (collectively referred to as CCA Defendants). Also pending is Plaintiff's Motion for Sanctions against the CCA Defendants, the Idaho Department of Correction and the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole (collectively referred to as IDOC Defendants). (Dkt. 40.) Having reviewed the record and otherwise being fully informed, the Court enters the following Order.

CCA DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

1. Background

Defendant Corrections Corporation of America is a private out-of-state corporation that manages the Idaho Correctional Center (ICC), under contract with the Idaho Department of Correction to house and supervise Idaho state inmates. Defendant Philip Valdez was the warden of ICC at the time Plaintiff was housed there as an inmate. Plaintiff is now on parole.

At the time the allegations in the Complaint arose, Plaintiff was enrolled in the Therapeutic Community program at ICC and was told he would be eligible for parole once he completed the program. However, Plaintiff experienced difficulties in the program due to his PTSD and bipolar disorder. He alleges he was removed from the Therapeutic Community program because of these mental health diagnoses, and as a result his parole was delayed.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to provide a Therapeutic Community alternative in which he could participate while receiving mental health treatment. (Initial Review Order at 2-3, Dkt. 5.) On April 20, 2010, the CCA Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss, arguing that CCA is not a "public entity" and therefore Title II of the ADA does not apply to it. (Defendants' Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss at 5-9, Dkt. 42-1.) They also argue that Plaintiff's claims for injunctive relief are moot because Plaintiff was transferred out of ICC and later paroled, and that Defendant Valdez cannot be sued in his individual capacity under Title II. (Id. at 3-5, 9-10.) Claims against the IDOC Defendants are not at issue currently.

2. Standard of Law

The CCA Defendants seek dismissal of all of Plaintiff's claims against them.

Under Rule 12(b)(6), a motion to dismiss is properly granted where the complaint does not state a cognizable legal theory or a claim lacks sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990.) Here, the facts relevant to the Motion to Dismiss are undisputed; the parties argue only whether the statute applies to the facts at hand.

3. Discussion of Claims Against CCA

The CCA Defendants argue they are entitled to summary judgment on the ADA claims because CCA is not a "public entity" under the plain language of the statute. For the reasons that follow, the Court agrees with Defendants' interpretation of the statute.

Title II of the ADA applies to an "individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable modifications to rules, policies, or practices, . . . meets the essential eligibility requirements for the receipt of services or the participation in programs or activities provided by a public entity." 42 U.S.C. § 12131(2). The Supreme Court has held that the plain language of Title II of the ADA extends to prison inmates who are deprived of the benefits of participation in state-run prison programs, services, or activities because of a physical disability. See Pennsylvania Dept. of Corr. v. Yeskey, 524 U.S. 206, 211 (1998).

Yeskey, however, did not involve a prison run by a private corporation incarcerating state prisoners pursuant to a government contract. For such a private corporation to be subject to suit under Title II, the corporation must be a "public entity" as defined in the statute. The term "public entity" includes "any department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a State or States or local government."

42 U.S.C. § 12131(1). The specific question in this case is whether CCA, a private corporation, is an "instrumentality" of the state.

Statutory interpretation must always begin with the plain language of the statute. United States v. Nader, 542 F.3d 713, 717 (9th Cir. 2008). "But the text is only the starting point." Kelly v. Robinson, 479 U.S. 36, 43 (1986). In construing a statute, courts "must not be guided by a single sentence or member of a sentence, but look to the provisions of the whole law, and to its object and policy." Id. "If the statute's terms are ambiguous, [courts] may use canons of construction, legislative history, and the statute's overall ...


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