Mr. Jake Dean Smith is an incarcerated man who describes himself as handicapped because his left leg was amputated and his right knee is "very weak." TransCor America was responsible for transporting Mr. Smith between jails but allegedly did not operate an accessible bus. He was kept on the bus for up to three days on two different occasions without rest. Furthermore, Mr. Smith alleged a bus operator took some of his belongings before he entered the bus and threw them away. During the trip between jails, Mr. Smith stayed at Christian County Jail (KY), which allegedly also was not accessible. While there, Mr. Smith was unable to get around independently and relied on inmates to carry him to the bathroom, shower and to get his meals. At one point, he hurt himself while trying to enter a shower.
Mr. Smith filed suit pro se (i.e., without an attorney) under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), alleging TransCor America and the Christian County Jail failed to accommodate his disability. Mr. Smith also asserted claims for cruel and unusual punishment and deprivation of property under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. While Christian County Jail is a public entity subject to Title II, TransCor America is a limited liability company (according to their website), which more commonly would be a public accommodation subject to Title III. However, the court treated TransCor America as an instrumentality of the state and Title II entity.
State and local prisons and jails are public entities subject to Title II of the ADA. Mr. Smith asserts the TransCor America and Christian County failed to accommodate his disability in providing their services.
Accordingly, the basic needs of prisoners, including hygiene, are protected from intentional indifference on the part of prison officials. Mr. Smith further claims that TransCor America intentionally deprived him of his property without due process under the Fourteenth Amendment when his possessions were taken from him and thrown away.
The court held that Mr. Smith can proceed against TransCor America and the Christian County Jail for his ADA claims and may proceed against Christian County for cruel and unusual punishment. The court did not permit his deprivation of property claim to continue because he failed to show that TransCor America refused to remedy this loss of property.