Shuhaiber v. Illinois Department of Corrections, No. 19-3244 (7th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Shuhaiber, who is confined to a wheelchair, sued the Illinois Department of Corrections under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act. He alleged that the Stateville Center failed to accommodate his disability by confining him to a cell unsuited to the use of a wheelchair and that he was transported to physical therapy in vans that were not ADA-compliant, leaving him to depend on an officer to lift him. The district court dismissed the complaint, determining that Shuhaiber failed to allege that he was deprived of access to facilities or services or that the vans caused him to miss medical appointments.
Shuhaiber appealed and sought permission to proceed without prepaying the requisite filing fee. Meanwhile, Shuhaiber, a native of the United Arab Emirates, had been transferred to DHS custody for removal from the United States. Shuhaiber, as a frequent filer of federal lawsuits, had accumulated more than three strikes under the Prison Litigation Reform Act for filing frivolous lawsuits and would have had to prepay the filing fee to appeal the dismissal of his claims. Doubting that Shuhaiber was still a “prisoner,” the district court granted his motion to proceed in forma pauperis.
The Seventh Circuit affirmed that the appellate filing-fee bar does not apply where the appellant is being held by immigration authorities and no longer is a “prisoner” within the meaning of the PLRA. The district court was, nonetheless, right to dismiss his claims.