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Goodwin v. Coley

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

January 25, 2019

Marlon Goodwin, Plaintiff,
Carolee Coley, et al., Defendants.


          Robert T. Numbers, II United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Marlon Goodwin, a state inmate proceeding pro se, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq. D.E. 1. This matter is currently before the court for the screening required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”). Also before the court are Goodwin's motion for a copy of his complaint (D.E. 6), motion for a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) (D.E. 7), and motion to expedite (D.E. 8). After reviewing his filings, the court directs Goodwin to particularize his complaint, the undersigned recommends denial of his TRO motion, and his remaining motions are allowed in part and denied in part.

         I. Screening Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act

         The PLRA requires courts to review, prior to docketing, actions filed by prisoners against governmental entities or officials. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The purpose of this review is to eliminate those claims that unnecessarily impede judicial efficiency and the administration of justice. The court must examine the pleadings, identify cognizable claims, and dismiss any portion of the complaint that is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. § 1915A(b).

         A complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if it does not “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The Supreme Court has explained that “[a] claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Goodwin's status as a pro se party relaxes, but does not eliminate, the requirement that his complaint contain facially plausible claims. The court must liberally construe a pro se plaintiff's allegations, but it “cannot ignore a clear failure to allege facts” that set forth a cognizable claim. Johnson v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, 867 F.Supp.2d 766, 776 (E.D. N.C. 2011).

         Goodwin alleges that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need of myasthenia gravis. He also alleges that this medical condition constitutes a disability, which prison officials refuse to accommodate. Apart from the claims related to his medical condition, Godwin claims that a prison guard sexually assaulted him. Although these claims are not frivolous, Goodwin's complaint suffers from several deficiencies that require particularization.

         Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that “[a] pleading that states a claim for relief must contain … a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). In general, Goodwin's complaint is long and rambling. It names 16 defendants, including at least six John Does. The complaint addresses many occurrences taking place over more than three years across three separate correctional institutions. At times it is unclear exactly which defendants committed the actions described by Goodwin. Large sections of his complaint seem unrelated to his deliberate indifference, ADA, and sexual assault claims.[1] In sum, Goodwin's allegations in their present form do not comply with Rule 8. Moreover, plaintiff may not bring unrelated claims against different defendants in a single lawsuit. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2) (providing defendants can be joined in a single lawsuit only if the claims relate to “the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences and any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action”); see George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007) (“Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits . . . to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees . . . .”).

         Goodwin is thus directed to particularize his allegations by filing one amended complaint specifically stating the injury stemming from defendants' actions or inactions and the alleged facts to support his claim. Goodwin must connect all defendants with the alleged conduct which caused the alleged constitutional violation. The complaint must relate to same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences. He should raise unrelated claims in a separate action. Finally, Goodwin is on notice that any amended pleading will constitute the complaint in its entirety, and the court will not consider claims in previous filings. Likewise, any more motions to amend or other supplemental filings will be strongly disfavored. Goodwin must file his particularized complaint within 14 days of this court's order. The court will review his particularized complaint as required by the PLRA. Finally, the court warns Goodwin that his response must be limited to more fully explaining his current claims and explaining each defendant's role in each claim and is not an invitation to make new claims against new defendants. In the event that Goodwin fails to file his particularized complaint within the 14-day period provided, his claims may be dismissed for failure to prosecute.

         II. Motion for Copy of Complaint

         Goodwin requests a copy of his complaint. As a one-time courtesy, the court directs the Clerk to mail Goodwin a copy of his complaint. The court notes, however, that a pro se litigant is responsible for properly maintaining legal records. See Clegg-Ars v. Wiggins, No. 5:15-CT-3060-D, 2015 WL 4760705, at * 3 (E.D. N.C. Aug. 12, 2015). In the future, Goodwin must pay for copies of any documents he requests. See 28 U.S.C. § 1914.

         III. TRO Motion

         A movant must establish the following to obtain a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction: (1) that he is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) that the balance of equities tips in his favor; and (4) that an injunction is in the public interest. Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008).

         As noted above, Goodwin's complaint in its present form fails to establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits. And the public interest is best served if courts do not get involved with the daily operations of a prison, especially before the finding of a constitutional violation. See Florence v. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders of Cty. of Burlington, 566 U.S. 318, 328 (2012). Goodwin therefore has not demonstrated that his request for a TRO is in the public interest. For these reasons, the undersigned recommends that Goodwin's TRO motion (D.E. 7) be denied.

         IV. ...

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