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Taylor v. Miller

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

June 2, 2015

SAMUEL LEWIS TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL MILLER, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

RODNEY W. SIPPEL, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on review of plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. #2] and pro se amended complaint [Doc. #6]. Having reviewed plaintiff's financial information, the Court will grant him in forma pauperis status and assess an initial partial filing fee of $1.98. In addition, the Court will instruct plaintiff to file a second amended complaint.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), a prisoner bringing a civil action in forma pauperis is required to pay the full amount of the filing fee. If the prisoner has insufficient funds in his prison account to pay the entire fee, the Court must assess and, when funds exist, collect an initial partial filing fee of 20 percent of the greater of (1) the average monthly deposits in the prisoner's account; or (2) the average monthly balance in the prisoner's account for the prior six-month period. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). After payment of the initial partial filing fee, the prisoner is required to make monthly payments of 20 percent of the preceding month's income credited to the prisoner's account. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). The agency having custody of the prisoner will forward these monthly payments to the Clerk of Court each time the amount in the prisoner's account exceeds $10, until the filing fee is fully paid. Id . Plaintiff has submitted an affidavit and a certified copy of his prison account statement for the six-month period immediately preceding the submission of his complaint. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), (2). A review of plaintiff's account statement indicates an average monthly deposit of $9.92, and an average monthly account balance of $0.00. Plaintiff has insufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee. Accordingly, the Court will assess an initial partial filing fee of $1.98, which is 20 percent of plaintiff's average monthly deposit.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. An action is frivolous if it Alacks an arguable basis in either law or fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989); Denton v. Hernandez, 112 S.Ct. 1728, 1733 (1992). An action is malicious if it is undertaken for the purpose of harassing the named defendants and not for the purpose of vindicating a cognizable right. Spencer v. Rhodes, 656 F.Supp. 458, 461-63 (E.D. N.C. 1987), aff'd 826 F.2d 1059 (4th Cir. 1987). A complaint fails to state a claim if it does not plead Aenough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007).

Background

Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for constitutional violations he suffered while confined at the Potosi Correctional Center and Crossroads Correctional Center during the period of August 2012 through October 2013. Plaintiff names eleven defendants in the amended complaint [Doc. #6], and his allegations arise out of a host of different occurrences, including many instances of lost, stolen, and damaged personal property, visitation issues, false conduct violations, tampering with food trays, access to the courts, and decayed and rancid candy bars.

Discussion

Rule 18(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states:

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.

As such, multiple claims against a single party are valid. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007).

For the most part, however, the instant action presents a case involving multiple claims against, not one, but eleven defendants. Such pleading practices are not allowed, especially in prisoner actions where there could be an incentive to avoid paying separate filing fees. See id. (district court should question joinder of defendants and claims in prisoner cases). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20(a)(2) is controlling and provides:

Persons... may be joined in one action as defendants if: (A) any right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and (B) any ...

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