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Reaves v. Ullman

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

November 4, 2016

KEVIN REAVES, Plaintiff,
v.
PAUL ULLMAN, OFC MILLS I.A., WENDY KNIGHT, LT. COATS, Defendants.

          ENTRY DISCUSSING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AND COMPLAINT, DISCUSSING MISJOINDER, AND DIRECTING FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

          LARRY J. McKINNEY, JUDGE

         I. In Forma Pauperis

         The plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis [dkt. 5] is granted to the extent that a collection order is being issued to collect the filing fee in monthly payments whenever the plaintiff's income permits.

         II. Screening

         The plaintiff is a prisoner currently incarcerated at Correctional Industrial Facility (“CIF”). Because the plaintiff is a “prisoner” as defined by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h), this Court has an obligation under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) to screen his complaint before service on the defendants. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         The plaintiff brings this action against; 1) Paul Ullman, Meritor Brake Shop foreman; 2) Officer Mills, Internal Affairs; 3) Wendy Knight, Superintendent; and 4) Lt. Coats. For relief, the plaintiff seeks a transfer to a different prison that can better assist him with his blindness and compensatory damages.

         The complaint does not specify whether the defendants are sued in their individual or official capacities. Giving the complaint its most liberal reading, the Court will treat the claims as having been brought against the defendants in both individual and official capacities.

         Paul Ullman - The plaintiff's claim against Paul Ullman relates to a job he had at the prison. The plaintiff alleges that in 2014 he was fired from his job at Meritor Brake Shop because of a lie. He has reapplied several times but foreman Paul Ullman has made it clear he would never be hired back because of his poor vision and lack of production. Another inmate who also has the same eye condition was fired due to lack of production. The plaintiff alleges that he is legally blind.

         Officer Mills - The plaintiff alleges that he submitted a request to Officer Mills for separation from another inmate who had tried to kill the plaintiff on the outside. The plaintiff told Officer Mills he was scared for his life. Officer Mills did not separate the inmates, wrote up the plaintiff for telling him the plaintiff would protect himself, and then refused to talk to the plaintiff.

         Lt. Coats and Superintendent Knight - The plaintiff was moved to a different unit by the prison unit team based on the status of his legal blindness. Then Lt. Coats and Superintendent Knight allegedly moved him to an idle dorm. There he was beaten up by an offender trying to take his food. The plaintiff alleges he was moved to the idle unit for no reason.

         As filed, the complaint violates the joinder of claims limitation of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. “Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits ….” George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). Rule 20 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows joinder of multiple defendants only when 1) the allegations against them involve the same transaction or occurrence and, 2) common questions of fact and law will arise as to all defendants. The claims against the different defendants are not related factually or legally. For instance, his denial of employment claim based on his disability is not related to any failure to protect claim brought against Officer Mills.

         The Court has not screened any of the claims on the merits. The improper joinder issue shall be addressed first.

         III. Further Proceedings

         The plaintiff is the master of his own complaint. Therefore, he may decide which claim(s), if any, he ...


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