United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
JOHNNIE D. ALLEN, Plaintiff,
KEVIN INGRAM, et al., Defendants.
D. Whitney, Chief United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on initial review of
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, filed under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, (Doc. No. 23). 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis status.
Plaintiff Johnnie D. Allen, a North Carolina inmate
incarcerated at Marion Correctional Institution in Marion,
North Carolina, filed this action on June 20, 2016, pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff named sixteen defendants
in his original Complaint, and he alleged facts and claims
arising out of unrelated transactions and occurrences
occurring while he was incarcerated at Lanesboro Correctional
Institution. On July 6, 2017, this Court entered an order
finding, among other things, that Plaintiff's Complaint
did not comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 20. (Doc. No. 22). The Court
stated in its order:
Plaintiff has alleged numerous, unrelated claims against
numerous, unrelated defendants in this action, and he has not
specified the dates on which each alleged constitutional
violation occurred. Plaintiff is placed on notice that he may
not bring unrelated claims against unrelated parties in a
single action. See FED. R. CIV. P. 18(a), 20(a)(2);
George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007)
(noting that “[u]nrelated claims against different
defendants belong in different suits, ” so as to
prevent prisoners from dodging the fee payment or
three-strikes provisions in the Prison Litigation Reform
Act). Plaintiff may bring a claim against multiple defendants
as long as (1) the claim arises out of the same transaction
or occurrence, or series of transactions and occurrences, and
(2) there are common questions of law or fact. FED. R. CIV.
P. 20(a)(2). Here, Plaintiff's unrelated claims against
different defendants may not be litigated in the same action.
Accord Thomas v. Davey, No. 1:16cv925, 2017 WL
2691824, at *2 (E.D. Cal. June 22, 2017) (“Plaintiff
may not pursue allegations against multiple parties involving
multiple claims in this action. For example, Plaintiff may
not pursue claims of retaliation involving one set of
defendants while simultaneously pursuing claims for
deliberate indifference to serious medical needs against
another set of defendants. These differing claims do not
arise out of the same transaction or occurrence and do not
share common questions of law or fact.”).
(Doc. No. 22 at 3). This Court ordered Plaintiff to submit an
Amended Complaint to comply with Rule 20. Plaintiff filed his
Amended Complaint on August 11, 2017, again alleging
numerous, unrelated claims against unrelated Defendants.
(Doc. No. 23 at 4, 9-29).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must
review the Complaint to determine whether it is subject to
dismissal on the grounds that it is “frivolous or
malicious [or] fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Furthermore,
under § 1915A the Court must conduct an initial review
and identify and dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the
complaint, if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune to such relief.
frivolity review, this Court must determine whether the
Complaint raises an indisputably meritless legal theory or is
founded upon clearly baseless factual contentions, such as
fantastic or delusional scenarios. Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989). Furthermore, a
pro se complaint must be construed liberally. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, the liberal
construction requirement will not permit a district court to
ignore a clear failure to allege facts in his Complaint which
set forth a claim that is cognizable under federal law.
Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387
(4th Cir. 1990).
his original Complaint, Plaintiff again has not complied with
Rule 20 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. That is,
Plaintiff complains about unrelated transactions and
occurrences against numerous different Defendants. For
instance, Plaintiff complains about two separate and
unrelated excessive force incidents while he was incarcerated
at Lanesboro Correctional Institution-one occurring on March
21, 2016, and one occurring on March 29, 2016-each involving
separate Defendants. Plaintiff also complains about being
left in a recreational cage on July 11, 2016, for more than
24 hours. He also appears to complain about due process
violations arising out of hearings to determine his security
classification. Finally, he complains that his current
classification status at Marion Correctional Institution
violates his due process rights. As the Court made clear in
its earlier order, a prisoner plaintiff may not merely lump
distinct and unrelated claims into one action. The Amended
Complaint is simply deficient and the Court will therefore
not conduct an initial review at this time.
Court will grant Plaintiff 20 days in which to inform the
Court which distinct claims he wishes to pursue in this
action. If Plaintiff does not narrow down his issues and
claims for the purposes of initial review, the Court will
determine which claims and Defendants to dismiss without
prejudice from this action and the Court will proceed with an
initial review of one of Plaintiff's distinct claims.
the Court will grant Plaintiff 20 days from service of this
Order in which to inform the Court which distinct ...