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Martin v. Sturgell

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

October 10, 2018

ANTHONY C. MARTIN, Plaintiff,
v.
STURGELL, WEDDELL, MILLER, BOLMAN, GUILLIE, PEROLE, COLENON, LUNSFORD, HAMILTON, SPANGLER, COCKERN, VAN DE, HOLMES, OVERFIELD, PITT, WHITTE, SHUPPER, PRESTEL, REGAN, DUNKIN, Defendants.

          ENTRY SCREENING COMPLAINT AND DIRECTING FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE.

         The plaintiff is a prisoner currently incarcerated at Pendleton Correctional Facility. 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. But before that step can be taken certain claims must be severed from this action.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 18 permits a plaintiff to bring in one lawsuit every claim he has against a single defendant. Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a). However, to join multiple defendants in a single action, Rule 20 requires that the plaintiff assert at least one claim against all of them “arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences” and where “any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(2). Working together, these two rules mean 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. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). Consequently, “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.” Id., 507 F.3d at 607. Rule 20 applies as much to cases brought by prisoners as it does to any other case. Id. When claims are misjoined, Rule 21 allows this court to sever any claim against a party or to add or drop a party from a lawsuit.

         I. The Complaint

         In this action, Martin sues 20 defendants, all employees of Pendleton Correctional Facility. The defendants include: Officer Sturgell, Officer Weddell, Sgt. Miller, Lt. Bolman, Cpt. Guillie, Cpt. Perole, Lt. Colenon, Sgt. Lunsford, Officer Hamilton, Officer Spangler, Officer Cockern, Officer Van De, Officer Holmes, Officer Overfield, Officer Pitt, Officer Whitte, Officer Shupper, Sgt. Prestel, Officer Regan, and Internal Affairs Dunkin.

         Having reviewed the allegations in the complaint, it is apparent that there are five separate occurrences at issue.

         1. Altercation on December 24, 2016.

         Martin alleges that on December 24, 2016, he was sexually assaulted by Officer Sturgell when she threw bars of soap into the shower area striking Martin several times in his genitals and lower part of my body. Martin was later escorted to medical because he was urinating blood and swelling. (Count 1 of Complaint.)

         While being transported to medical, Martin was beaten by Sgt. Prestel and Officer Regan causing injury. (Count 2 of Complaint.)

         On December 24, 2016, I.A. Dunkin placed Martin in a freezing cell out of retaliation with no sheets or blankets for five days. During three of these days, Martin was denied food and water by Officer Pitt and Officer Whitte. (Count 2 of Complaint.)

         2. Crushed Hand on April 13, 2017

         On April 13, 2017, Officer Hamilton was working at the HCH cell house and told Martin that Martin had it coming for the Officer Sturgell incident, so Martin should watch his back. Later, Officer Hamilton purposefully shut Martin's left hand in the door, smashing it. Martin screamed for help, but Officer Hamilton just walked off. Martin yelled for a supervisor, but OIC Holmes did not respond even though Martin's hand was trapped in the door for over an hour. Martin's hand was fractured. (Count 3 of Complaint.)

         3. Treatment on June 2 - 4, 2017

         From June 2, 2017 through June 4, 2017, Martin was subjected to racial and discriminatory treatment by Cpt. Gullie, Lt. Conlen, Sgt. Lungford, Officer Hamilton, Officer Spangler, Officer Cockern, Officer Van De and Officer Overfield. Martin was called racist names and locked in his cell for three days. During this time he was deprived of his meals. When he tried to yell for help, he was sprayed with mace by ...


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