MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court for case management. Plaintiff Tyrone Graham, Jr., is currently detained at St. Clair County Jail ("the Jail"). Proceeding pro se, he filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against numerous St. Clair County officials. In the complaint, Plaintiff Graham alleges that all "Block AA Offenders" have endured unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the Jail since August 11, 2015. (Doc. 1, p. 5). On that date, thirty offenders were moved from Block AA to the gym when a light broke in their cell block. They have since been forced to share a single toilet and eat and sleep amidst pests on the gym floor. (Id.). Plaintiff seeks an Order requiring the Jail to return the Block AA Offenders to their cell block "with better living conditions." (Id. at 6).
This action appears to involve more than one plaintiff. Plaintiff Graham signed the complaint. (Id.). He also signed and filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP motion") (Doc. 2) and a motion for recruitment of counsel (Doc. 3). But the case caption also lists "Block AA" as a plaintiff. (Doc. 1, p. 1). The narrative portion of the complaint is written in third person (Id. at 5), and the request for relief pertains to all Block AA Offenders. (Id. at 6). Along with the complaint, Plaintiff Graham filed a "petition" dated August 19, 2015, that refers to Major McLaurin as a "Defendant" and is signed by nineteen individuals who are referred to as "Plaintiff AA Offenders." (Doc. 1-1, p. 1). Plaintiff Graham also filed a letter dated September 1, 2015, which indicates that the Block AA Offenders would like to file a lawsuit together to address the conditions of their confinement at the Jail. (Doc. 1, p. 7). The complaint appears to be just that.
Given the above facts, the Court cannot rule out the possibility that this action involves up to thirty plaintiffs. The Court will not proceed with its preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A until Plaintiff Graham and any other plaintiffs who wish to proceed together in this action address this issue. When deciding whether to proceed together in a single action, all potential plaintiffs should consider the following:
Group Litigation by Multiple Prisoners
Multiple plaintiffs may bring their claims jointly in a single lawsuit if they so desire. Before the Court allows them to proceed together, however, the Court must admonish them as to the consequences of proceeding in this manner—including their filing fee obligations—and give each of them the opportunity to proceed together in this case or proceed in a separate action.
In Boriboune v. Berge, 391 F.3d 852 (7th Cir. 2004), the court addressed the difficulties in administering group prisoner complaints. District courts are required to accept joint complaints filed by multiple prisoners
In reconciling the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act with Rule 20, the Seventh Circuit determined that joint litigation does not relieve any prisoner of the duties imposed upon him under the Act, including the duty to pay the full amount of the filing fees, either in installments or in full if the circumstances require it. Id.
The Circuit noted that there are at least two other reasons a prisoner may wish to avoid group litigation. First, group litigation creates countervailing costs. Each submission to the Court must be served on every other plaintiff and the opposing parties pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5. This means that if there are thirty plaintiffs, the plaintiffs' postage and copying costs of filing motions, briefs, or other papers in the case will be thirty times greater than if there is a single plaintiff.
Second, a prisoner litigating on his own behalf takes the risk that "one or more of his claims may be deemed sanctionable under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11." Boriboune, 391 F.3d at 854-55. A prisoner litigating jointly assumes those risks for all of the claims in the group complaint, whether or not they concern him personally. Furthermore, if the Court finds that the complaint contains unrelated claims against unrelated defendants, those unrelated claims may be severed into one or more new cases. If that severance of claims occurs, each plaintiff will be liable for another full filing fee for each new case. Plaintiffs may wish to take this into account in determining whether to assume the risks of group litigation in the federal courts of the Seventh Circuit.
Because not every prisoner is likely to be aware of the potential negative consequences of joining group litigation in federal courts, the Circuit suggested in Boriboune that district courts alert prisoners to the individual payment requirement, as well as the other risks prisoner pro se litigants face in joint pro se litigation, and "give them an opportunity to drop out." Id. at 856. Therefore, in keeping with this suggestion, the Court offers all Block AA Offenders, other than Plaintiff Graham, whom it designates as the "lead" Plaintiff
In addition, if a Block AA Offender who has already signed the "petition" wishes to continue this litigation as a group, it is not necessary to file an amended complaint with all of the plaintiffs' signatures because the "petition" is considered part of the complaint. That being said, any proposed amended complaint, motion, or other document filed on behalf of multiple plaintiffs must be signed by each of the plaintiffs. As long as the plaintiffs appear without counsel in this action, each plaintiff must sign documents for himself. See Lewis v. Lenc-Smith Mfg. Co., 784 F.2d 829, 831 (7th Cir. 1986); FED. R. CIV. P. 11.
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