The opinion of the court was delivered by: Caldwell, District Judge.
This case presents the question whether the physical exercise
required by a penal boot camp program is a "major life activity"
under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). 42 U.S.C. § 12131-12165.
The plaintiff, Ronald R. Yeskey, sued under Title II of the
ADA, claiming that Pennsylvania prison officials violated the Act
when they disqualified him from participating in Pennsylvania's
boot camp program on the basis of high blood pressure, thereby
preventing him from significantly shortening his period of
The defendants are: the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,
Department of Corrections (Department); Joseph D. Lehman, former
secretary of the Department; Jeffrey A. Beard, former
superintendent of the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill
(SCI-Camp Hill); and Jeffrey K. Ditty, director of the Central
Diagnostic and Classification Center, Unit No. 2 at SCI-Camp
By way of some procedural background, we had previously
dismissed this case, ruling that the ADA did not apply to state
prisons. The Third Circuit reversed, 118 F.3d 168 (3d Cir. 1997),
and the Supreme Court affirmed the Third Circuit's decision.
524 U.S. 206, 118 S.Ct. 1952, 141 L.Ed.2d 215 (1998).
We are considering the defendants' motion for summary judgment,
which among other things, argues that the plaintiff has no ADA
claim because the physical exercise required by the boot camp
program is not a major life activity under the Act. Since boot
camp exercise is not a "major life activity," an essential
element of an ADA claim, the plaintiff has no cause of action for
his exclusion from the boot camp program, a cause of action based
on the plaintiff's belief that the defendants regarded his high
blood pressure as substantially limiting the major life activity
We will examine the motion under the well-established standard.
See Showalter v. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center,
190 F.3d 231, 234 (3d Cir. 1999).
As the name of the program makes clear, it imitates a military
boot camp. The inmates are awakened at 5:30 a.m. to a heavily
regimented day, which includes physical exercises taken from the
United States Army and the United States Marine Corps manuals on
physical fitness. The inmates also attend school and drug and
alcohol therapy sessions.
Led by a trained physical fitness drill instructor, the
physical-exercise sessions are conducted twice a day, seven days
a week, for about one hour to a hour and 15 minutes each time.
Typical exercises are jumping jacks, squat thrusts, mountain
climbers and push-ups in multiple repetitions. For variety, the
boot camp manual suggests "grass drills" as alternative exercises
but cautions that there should be a 10 to 15 minute time limit on
these drills since they are so strenuous. There is also
instruction for marching in formation, but that takes up very
little of each session's time compared to the exercises. Each
session is followed by a minimum two-mile run in a military
"double-time" formation, a pace of an eight and one-half minute
mile for each mile run. An inmate is expected to improve on the
two-mile distance as the training progresses.
Inmates are also assigned to work crews five days a week. The
work crews are assigned manual labor jobs in wilderness areas
surrounding the boot camp. Examples are stream restoration
projects creating dams that involve cutting down large trees with
nonpower saws, clearing plots of scrubs and small trees for elk
feeder plots, and hauling stone and sand in wheel barrels.
On May 20, 1994, plaintiff began serving an 18 to 36 month
sentence at SCI-Pittsburgh, with a recommendation from the
sentencing judge that he be assigned to the boot camp program.
Upon arrival at the prison, he was given a physical examination.
His blood pressure reading was 140/96, considered high. On May
25, 1994, his blood pressure was taken again and read 145/100.
After this second reading, a doctor ...