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Spann-El v. Slay

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

December 28, 2016

JIHAD A. SPANN-EL, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
FRANCIS G. SLAY, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE L. WHITE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court upon review of the file. Plaintiff Jihad A. Spann-El, Sr., commenced this civil action on September 26, 2016. In so doing, plaintiff neither paid the required filing fee nor moved for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and on September 29, 2016, the Court ordered him to do either. On October 12, 2016, plaintiff moved for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and the Court granted the motion and reviewed the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The Court noted that the complaint was vague and conclusory and generally failed to comply with Rules 8 and 10 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and gave plaintiff the opportunity to file an amended complaint to cure the deficiencies. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on October 31, 2016, and then filed a second amended complaint on November 7, 2016. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court now reviews the second amended complaint.

         28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court is required to dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To state a claim for relief under § 1983, a complaint must plead more than "legal conclusions" and "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere conclusory statements." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, which is more than a "mere possibility of misconduct." Id. at 679. "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." Id. at 678. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679.

         The Second Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff names twenty defendants in this case, including the Mayor of the City of Saint Louis and entities such as the City Justice Center, the Saint Louis City Sheriffs Department, and the Saint Louis City Police Department. Plaintiffs allegations arise out of several unrelated occurrences on different dates, beginning in early July 2016 and ending in late August.

         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).

         The instant action, however, presents a case involving multiple unrelated claims against not one, but twenty 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. (the district court should question joinder of defendants and claims in prisoner cases). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20(a)(2) 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 question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action.

         Therefore, a plaintiff cannot join, in a single lawsuit, a multitude of claims against different defendants that are related to events arising out of different occurrences or transactions. In other words, "Claim A against Defendant 1 should not be joined with unrelated Claim B against Defendant 2." George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). "Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits, ... [in part] 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." Id.

         Because plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court will give him an opportunity to file a third amended complaint. In so doing, plaintiff should select the transaction or occurrence he wishes to pursue, and limit the facts and allegations to the defendant(s) involved therein. Plaintiff should only include claims that arise out of the same ...


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