This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).






Ronaldo S. Ligons,





Sheryl Ramstad-Hvass, et al.,



Filed January 8, 2002

Klaphake, Judge


Washington County District Court

File No. 82C0003190


Ronaldo S. Ligons, No. 171203, Minnesota Correctional Facility at Stillwater, 970 Pickett Street North, Bayport, MN  55003 (pro se appellant)


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Jennifer K. Park, Assistant Attorney General, 445 Minnesota Street, #1100, St. Paul, MN  55101-2128 (for respondents)


            Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Klaphake, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Pro se appellant Ronaldo S. Ligons, brought this declaratory judgment action against respondents Sheryl Ramstad-Hvass, Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC); Mark Thielen, the Associate Warden of Operations for the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater (MCF-STW); and Daniel Paskewitz, the Psychology Director at MCF-STW.  Appellant, who is currently serving a 480-month prison term at MCF-STW, claims that he is disabled and unable to work.  He challenges respondents’ actions in refusing to exempt him from a “no work, no play” policy, under which all nonexempt inmates who refuse to work are confined to their cells for 23 hours per day.  Appellant alleges that respondents’ actions violate state law, discriminate against him in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

            Because none of the medical personnel who have examined or interviewed appellant in recent years have concluded that he is disabled or incapable of accepting some type of work assignment, and because appellant has received adequate medical treatment for his conditions, we affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment and dismissal of appellant’s complaint.


            Summary judgment is appropriate if the record shows that “there is no genuine issue of material fact and either party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”  Minn. R. Civ. P. 56.03.  When a motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported, the nonmoving party may not rest upon mere averments or denials, “but must present specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”  Minn. R. Civ. P. 56.05; see DLH, Inc. v. Russ, 566 N.W.2d 60, 71 (Minn. 1997) (nonmoving party must do more than create “metaphysical doubt” as to issue).

            The evidence presented here includes appellant’s clinical and medical records from 1993 to the present.  Those records establish that appellant suffers from diabetes, back problems, and a stress disorder.  He has sought and received regular medical care for his problems, and has repeatedly been advised to exercise and control his diet.

            The evidence further shows that in 1980, the Social Security Administration (SSA) determined that appellant was disabled due to “personality and substance addiction disorders.”  It appears, however, that SSA has not reviewed his case since 1991.

            In March 2000, appellant requested an exemption from the prison’s “no work, no play” policy, which became effective in February 2000.  Dr. Paskewitz’s notes from his interview with appellant state that appellant “demonstrated considerable knowledge of legal matters as well as a high level of social skills.”  Paskewitz told appellant that “he could function in some productive capacity within the prison” and that if “he felt anxious within the work setting, he would be encouraged to seek help * * * in reducing his discomfort.”  Id.  Paskewitz concluded that “[w]e are giving [appellant] full access to programming and treating him exactly like other non-working inmates” and that “I am not going to exempt him from the ‘no work – no play’ policy.”

            Christopher Ceman, M.D., a physician at MCF-STW who has examined and treated appellant many times, submitted an affidavit that states, in part: “[t]here is no medical reason why [appellant] cannot work” and “[a]s I have told [him] on numerous occasions, work would be good for him because the physical activity of work would provide him with an opportunity to exercise, which would help control his diabetes.”  Dr. Ceman further stated that if appellant “continues to refuse to work” and is confined to his cell for 23 hours per day, he still “has an opportunity to obtain the necessary physical activity during his one hour of free time per day and throughout the day by doing various exercises within his cell.”

            State Law and DOC Policies

            Appellant claims that respondents have violated state law and DOC policies.  State law provides that “[a]ll inmates are required to work” and that the commissioner may “excuse an inmate from work only for illness, physical disability, or to participate in an education or treatment program.”  Minn. Stat. § 243.18, subd. 2 (2000); see also Minn. Stat. § 243.23, subd. 1 (2000) (commissioner may pay inmates for work and may pay minimal amount to inmates “who because of illness or physical disability cannot work”).  The DOC has adopted policies pursuant to these statutes to insure that offenders who are permanently unable to work because of medical reasons are classified accordingly and are given reasonable accommodations and equal access to programs at all DOC facilities.

            Here, respondents determined that appellant is not entitled to be excused from work, a decision that is supported by the opinions of medical experts.  Appellant has failed to present any relevant evidence to rebut those opinions.  His submission of articles from books, periodicals, and other secondary sources that do not relate to this particular case do not raise any facts pertinent to this case and are insufficient to withstand respondents’ motion for summary judgment.  See Dixon v. Depositors Ins. Co., 619 N.W.2d 752, 756 (Minn. App. 2000) (photocopies of articles from textbooks and periodicals insufficient to raise genuine issue of material facts relating to specific case before court).

            The ADA

            Appellant claims that respondents’ actions violate the ADA.  The ADA “includes state prisons and prisoners within its coverage.”  Pa. Dep’t of Corrs. v. Yeskey, 524 U.S. 206, 209 (1998).  To make a prima facie ADA claim, appellant initially must show that he is a qualified individual with a disability as that term is defined in the statute.  See 42 U.S.C. § 12132 (1994); see Layton v. Elder, 143 F.3d 469, 472 (8th Cir. 1998).  “Disability” is defined as including “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual,” which includes working.  42 U.S.C. § 12102(2) (1994); 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(i) (2001).  Although it is undisputed that appellant suffers from several medical problems, including diabetes, stress, and back problems, little or no evidence was produced to show that these problems substantially limit his ability to work.

            As the district court concluded, appellant

has offered no evidence as to how his diabetic condition substantially impairs his ability to work, and * * * the record tends to indicate that working would benefit rather than adversely affect [appellant]. 


The court further concluded that appellant failed to show how his back problems “rose to the level of a disability under the ADA.”  Indeed, the medical professionals who have examined appellant over the last four years generally have indicated that appellant has a normal range of motion and have recommended that he exercise.  Finally, the court concluded that appellant has “failed to produce any evidence that his claimed stress disorder is debilitating or of the nature and magnitude to substantially impair his ability to work.”  Again, appellant failed to counter respondents’ evidence, particularly respondent Paskewitz’s conclusion that appellant “could function in some productive capacity within the prison” and Dr. Ceman’s conclusion that appellant’s “perceived stress is not of sufficient magnitude to be debilitating or to seriously aggravate his diabetes.”

            Appellant asserts that the district court ignored the evidence he presented establishing that SSA considers him disabled.  However, the fact that an individual is disabled under SSA rules does not necessarily render him “disabled” under the ADA.  See Cleveland v. Policy Mgmt. Sys. Corp., 526 U.S. 795, 804, 119 S. Ct. 1597, 1603 (1999) (SSA disability determination not necessarily determinative of whether individual is “qualified individual with a disability” under ADA).  Moreover, SSA’s 1991 disability determination is not sufficient to raise a genuine issue of fact on appellant’s ability to work in light of the current medical evidence that he is capable of work.

            Cruel and Unusual Punishment

            Appellant claims that respondents’ action constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.  To make a claim of cruel and unusual punishment for inadequate medical care, a prisoner must show that prison officials’ conduct amounted to “deliberate indifference” or that the officials “actually knew of [and] deliberately disregarded” a prisoner’s serious medical needs.  Dulany v. Carnahan, 132 F.3d 1234, 1237, 1239 (8th Cir. 1997).  “[A]n inmate cannot create a question of fact by merely stating that [he] did not receive adequate treatment.”  Id. at 1240.  Nor is an inmate’s own disagreement with treatment he receives sufficient to create a question of deliberate indifference. Id. at 1241.

            The district court here concluded that “there is no evidence in the record that prison officials have denied [appellant] the appropriate medications and access to medical personnel for treatment of those conditions.”  The court concluded that the only questions are whether the “23 hour per day lockup is cruel and unusual punishment” or whether the “food supplements provided by prison officials are so inadequate as to amount to deliberate indifference to [appellant’s] diabetic condition.”

            Appellant claims that the 23-hour confinement prevents him from exercising and exacerbates his diabetes.  As Dr. Ceman noted, however, only appellant’s refusal to work prevents him from enjoying outdoor privileges and nothing prevents appellant from exercising in his cell.  When, as here, the medical records indicate that treatment was provided, and physician affidavits state that the care provided was adequate or reasonable, an inmate “cannot create a question of fact by merely stating that [he] did not feel [he] received adequate care.”  Id.

            Appellant further claims that he has not received proper food to manage his diabetes, thereby aggravating it.  Again, Dr. Ceman evaluated the dietary supplements offered to appellant and found them adequate to meet medical standards and guidelines for a diabetic diet.  Appellant has not shown that he has received treatment “so inappropriate as to evidence intentional maltreatment or refusal to provide essential care.”  Id.

            Motion to Amend Complaint

            Appellant argues that the district court improperly denied his motion to amend his complaint.  Appellant did not move to amend his complaint until late in these proceedings, after respondents filed their summary judgment motion.  His proposed amended complaint adds claims of constitutional violations, including due process and equal protection, and seeks additional relief, including compensatory and punitive damages.  Given the lack of evidence that appellant has presented thus far and the prejudice that might result to respondents if he were allowed to amend his complaint, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying his motion.  See Minn. R. Civ. P. 15.01 (after filing of responsive pleading, party may amend complaint only with leave of court or upon consent of adverse party); Smith v. Woodwind Homes, Inc., 605 N.W.2d 418, 424 (Minn. App. 2000) (decision to allow amendment to complaint after responsive pleading has been filed is within court’s discretion).

            Finally, appellant raises various other challenges to the district court’s dismissal of his complaint, which we have thoroughly considered and find to be without legal or factual merit.  We therefore affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment to respondents.