MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON SCREENING OF PLEADINGS UNDER 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A
ROBERT B. COLLINGS, Magistrate Judge.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court directs the plaintiff to show cause why this action should not be dismissed.
Before the Court are two
Rice alleges that defendants have collectively run the Massachusetts prison system as a "Nazi concentration camp," Compl. ¶ 9, by engaging in a wide range of misconduct that includes attempting to infect the prisoners with infectious diseases by (1) forcing the plaintiffs to take blood tests with needles that have been deliberately contaminated (2) forcing inmates to shave with contaminated razors (3) giving food to inmates that has been deliberately contaminated with bodily fluids; (4) putting bodily fluids in the plaintiffs cells or personal effects; (5) stabbing the plaintiffs with sharp metal objects contaminated with infectious diseases; and (6) encouraged other "hitmen" inmates to put infectious bodily fluids in the plaintiffs food and rewarded the "hitmen" inmates with special privileges. Rice also alleges that the defendants have engaged in racial discrimination, assaulted the plaintiffs (physically, sexually, and "chemically"), denied medical and mental health care treatment, denied access to the courts, forced inmates to commit suicide, failed to adequately respond to grievances, unlawfully seized the plaintiffs' property, placed the plaintiffs in mental health programs to avoid the plaintiffs' complaints about conditions of confinement, and unnecessarily used hand and leg restraints on the plaintiffs.
The "Partial Amendment to Complaint" (docket entry #33) ("Partial Amendment") appears to be Rice's attempt to bring a second action. In letters that he filed, Rice indicated that he was bringing a class action and an action in which he was the only plaintiff. However, the Court had only received the multi-plaintiff Complaint. Thus, it appears that the Partial Amendment-in which Rice is the sole plaintiff—is not an amendment to the multi-plaintiff action but to a complaint that was never received by the Court. In the Partial Amendment, Rice brings civil rights claims against forty-eight correctional officers, prison officials, and prison medical providers. The Partial Amendment contains 211 paragraphs of factual allegations, many of which contain allegations of multiple counts of wrongdoing by named defendants.
Where, as here, a plaintiff seeks to file a complaint without prepayment of the filing fee, summonses do not issue until the Court reviews the complaint and determines that it satisfies the substantive requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Similarly, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, prisoner complaints in civil actions that seek redress from a governmental entity or officers or employees of a governmental entity are also subject to screening. Both § 1915 and § 1915A authorize federal courts to dismiss a complaint sua sponte if the claims therein lack an arguable basis in law or in fact, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). In conducting this review, the Court liberally construes Rice's pleadings because he is proceeding pro se. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).
A. Rule 8(a)
Here, Rice has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted because neither the Complaint nor the Partial Amendment meet the requirements of Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This rule mandates that a complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). At a minimum, the complaint must "give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests."
The plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his claim "requires more than labels and conclusions."
The Complaint and the Partial Amendment fall far short of compliance with Rule 8(a) in several regards. Most of the allegations are purely conclusory and do not provide enough factual specificity to permit a reasonable inference that the defendants violated the law. For example, Rice makes the conclusory allegation that the defendants discriminated against specific plaintiffs the basis of race,
Further, referring to all of the defendants collectively, when it cannot be reasonably inferred that all of the defendants were involved, does not meet the requirements of Rule 8(a).
B. Improper Joinder
The Complaint and Partial Amendment also run afoul of rules concerning the joinder of parties and claims. Both pleadings contain the kitchen sink of claims that appear to little to do with each other, at least as they are currently pled. Rule 18(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides: "A party asserting a claim . . . may join, as independent or alternative claims as it has against an opposing party." Fed. R. Civ. P. 18(a). However, "[d]espite the broad language of Rule 18(a), plaintiff may join multiple defendants in a single action only if plaintiff asserts at least one claim to relief against each of them that arises out of the same transaction or occurrence and presents questions of law or fact common to all." 7 Charles Alan Wright et al.,
Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits, not only to prevent the sort of morass that this 50-claim, 24-defendant suit produced but also to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees—for the Prison Litigation Reform Act limits to 3 the number of frivolous suits or appeals that any prisoner may file without prepayment of the required fees. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). George was trying not only to save money but also to dodge that rule.
The Seventh Circuit also explained that Rule 20(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure precluded the plaintiff's "mishmash" complaint.
Not unlike the complaint reviewed by the Seventh Circuit in
C. Filing of an Amended Complaint
If Rice would like to pursue the claims set forth in the Complaint, he must file an Amended Complaint in compliance with Rules 8, 18, and 20 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. However, Rice does not have standing to assert the claims for injuries suffered by others.
If Rice would like to pursue the claims in the Partial Amendment, he must file a Second Amended Complaint. The Second Amended Complaint will be opened as a new case and the full filing fee will be assessed.
The Court also notes that it has received numerous letters from Rice in which he complains of misconduct by prison officials and others. He also has provided copies of letters that he submitted to other authorities. The Court directs Rice to cease filing such letters, as the Court cannot take any action on them and they encumber the docket.
1. If Rice would like to pursue the claims in the Complaint, he must, within forty-two (42) days, file an Amended Complaint. Failure to do so may result in dismissal of this action.
2. If Rice would like to pursue the claims in the Partial Amendment, he must, within forty-two (42) days, file a Second Amended Complaint. Failure to do so may result in dismissal of this action. The Second Amended Complaint will be opened and the full filing fee will be due. Rice may pay the $400 filing fee up front or seek leave to proceed