United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division
ENTRY SCREENING COMPLAINT, SEVERING MISJOINED CLAIMS,
AND DIRECTING FURTHER PROCEEDINGS
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
Screening of the Complaint
plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis
[dkt 2] is granted.
plaintiff is a prisoner currently incarcerated at the Clark
County Jail. 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. In
determining whether the complaint states a claim, the Court
applies the same standard as when addressing a motion to
dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
See Lagerstrom v. Kingston, 463 F.3d 621,
624 (7th Cir. 2006). To survive dismissal,
[the] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face. 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.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Pro se
complaints such as that filed by the plaintiff are construed
liberally and held to a less stringent standard than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers. Obriecht v. Raemisch,
517 F.3d 489, 491 n.2 (7th Cir. 2008).
The Claims that Will Proceed
the foregoing, the following claims shall
proceed: The claim that defendant Officer B. Dooley
assaulted him shall proceed as a claim that
this defendant exercised excessive force against him; The
claim the plaintiff requested help from defendants Officers
Wimberly and Giltner and they denied his request
shall proceed as a claim that these
defendants exhibited deliberate indifference to his serious
18(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
provides that “[a] party asserting a claim to relief as
an original claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party
claim, may join, either as independent or as alternate
claims, as many claims, legal, equitable, or maritime, as the
party has against an opposing party.” “Thus
multiple claims against a single party are fine, but Claim A
against Defendant 1 should not be joined with unrelated Claim
B against Defendant 2. Unrelated claims against different
defendants belong in different suits. . . .” George
v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). Joinder of
the defendants into one action is proper only “if there
is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the
alternative, any right to relief in respect of or arising out
of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of
transactions or occurrences and if any question of law or
fact common to all defendants will arise in the
action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a). In short, the courts do
not allow an inmate to treat a single federal complaint as a
sort of general list of grievances.
complaint does not set forth any claim or claims that
properly join all of the defendants. This deficiency must be
corrected before this action can proceed.
claims discussed in Part II of this Entry shall proceed as
discussed. The other claims asserted in the complaint are
misjoined. In such a situation, “[t]he court may . . .
sever any claim against a party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 21. The
Court of Appeals has instructed that generally, if a district
court finds that a plaintiff has misjoined parties, the Court
should sever those parties or claims, allowing those
grievances to continue in spin-off actions, rather than
dismiss them. Elmore v. Henderson, 227 F.3d 1009,
1012 (7th Cir. 2000). Here, the claim that Sergeant Smith
seized the plaintiff's mail and the claims that
defendants Corporal Thomas, Officer Brown, and Sergeant Price
assaulted the plaintiff on occasions separate from the
assault discussed in Section II of this Entry are misjoined.
of sua sponte severing the remaining claims into new
civil actions, the plaintiff shall have the opportunity to
determine whether the misjoined claims identified above shall
be severed into new actions or dismissed without prejudice.
Myles v. United States, 416 F.3d 551, 552 (7th Cir.
2005) (noting that the composition and content of the
complaint are entirely the responsibility of the plaintiff,
for “even pro se litigants are masters of
their own complaints and may choose who to sue-or not to
sue”). If new actions are opened, the plaintiff will be
responsible for a filing fee for each new case and the
screening requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) will be
triggered for each new case.
plaintiff shall have through December 19,
2016, in which to notify the Court
whether he wishes the Court to sever any claim(s) into new
actions, and if so, he shall identify which claims against
which defendants. If the plaintiff fails to so notify the
Court, the ...