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Cozart v. Watson

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 8, 2014

KEVIN WILLIAMS, ALAN DAVIS, JOSHUA JURCICH, CHRISTOPHER VAN BITTER, JEREMY MOSBY, DEMETRIUS GOLLIDAY, BRENT FAUCETT, DEONTRE SAMUELS, MICHAEL E. BAUM, MONTRELL COOPER, JOSEPH BAUM, ERIC TUCKER, CARLOS LUNA, BRANDON SERES, TREVONTE NICHOLSON, ZACH HILL, JACOB ESPARZA, DELCHEVA HARRIS, and ANTONIO COZART, Plaintiffs,
v.
RICHARD WATSON and ST. CLAIR COUNTY JAIL (Specific Guards), Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court for case management. This pro se action was filed by lead Plaintiff Kevin Williams and 28 other detainees at the St. Clair County Jail ("the Jail"), to challenge the Defendants' strip-search practices. On May 2, 2014 (Doc. 18), nine of the Plaintiffs were dismissed from the action, and one Plaintiff's claim (Christopher Alexander) was severed into a separate case at his request.[1] This left 19 Plaintiffs remaining in the action, as reflected in the caption above.

Of these remaining Plaintiffs, Delcheva Harris had complied with the Court's previous order to file a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP), and his motion has since been granted (Doc. 19). Lead Plaintiff Kevin Williams had filed his IFP motion when the action was filed, but did not submit the required prisoner trust fund statement. He was ordered to provide that information to the Court no later than May 16, 2014, or face dismissal of his claims (Doc. 18). Similarly, the other 17 Plaintiffs who had chosen to remain in the litigation (Davis, Jurcich, Van Bitter, Mosby, Golliday, Faucett, Samuels, Michael E. Baum, Cooper, Joseph Baum, Tucker, Luna, Seres, Nicholson, Hill, Esparza, and Cozart) were each ordered to submit a motion for leave to proceed IFP and a prisoner trust fund statement by May 16, 2014, or face dismissal from the action.

Only one of these Plaintiffs, Jeremy Mosby, complied with the Court's order; his motion for leave to proceed IFP has been granted (Doc. 22). The envelopes containing the Court's order at Doc. 18 were returned to the Clerk of Court as undeliverable for all the Plaintiffs except Williams, Mosby, Cooper, and Hill (Docs. 20, 23, 24).

I. Dismissal of Non-Compliant Plaintiffs

All the Plaintiffs were notified earlier in this litigation of their obligation to inform the Court of any change of address, and all non-lead Plaintiffs have had the opportunity to withdraw from the group action if they did not wish to incur a filing fee. Accordingly, those Plaintiffs who have failed to prosecute this action shall be dismissed at this time.

Lead Plaintiff Kevin Williams was ordered in January 2014 to provide his prisoner trust fund statement to the Court or have his claim dismissed (Doc. 4). In the most recent order, he was directed to submit the statement or otherwise show cause why he should not be dismissed from the action (Doc. 18). Williams has failed to provide the document and has not responded to the show cause order. Accordingly, Plaintiff KEVIN WILLIAMS is DISMISSED from this action without prejudice, for failure to comply with orders of this Court. See FED. R. CIV. P. 41(b). Further, his motion for the appointment of counsel (Doc. 2) is DENIED AS MOOT, and his motion for leave to proceed IFP (Doc. 3) is DENIED for failure to provide the required prisoner trust fund statement.

Plaintiff Williams' obligation to pay the filing fee for this action was incurred at the time the action was filed, thus his filing fee of $400.00[2] remains due and payable. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1); Lucien v. Jockisch, 133 F.3d 464, 467 (7th Cir. 1998). A separate order shall issue directing the institutional trust fund officer to deduct payments from Williams' prisoner trust fund account in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b).

Similarly, Plaintiffs Alan Davis, Joshua Jurcich, Christopher Van Bitter, Demetrius Golliday, Brent Faucett, Deontre Samuels, Michael E. Baum, Montrell Cooper, Joseph Baum, Eric Tucker, Carlos Luna, Brandon Seres, Trevonte Nicholson, Zach Hill, Jacob Esparza, and Antonio Cozart have all failed to respond to the Court's orders that they submit a motion for leave to proceed IFP, and early in the action, they were advised of their obligation to keep the Court informed of their address. They were warned of the consequences of failing to prosecute this case. Therefore, Plaintiffs ALAN DAVIS, JOSHUA JURCICH, CHRISTOPHER VAN BITTER, DEMETRIUS GOLLIDAY, BRENT FAUCETT, DEONTRE SAMUELS, MICHAEL E. BAUM, MONTRELL COOPER, JOSEPH BAUM, ERIC TUCKER, CARLOS LUNA, BRANDON SERES, TREVONTE NICHOLSON, ZACH HILL, JACOB ESPARZA, and ANTONIO COZART are DISMISSED from this action without prejudice, for failure to comply with orders of this Court. See FED. R. CIV. P. 41(b).

Each of these dismissed Plaintiffs incurred the obligation to pay a separate filing fee for this action when they declined the opportunity to voluntarily withdraw from the case (Docs. 4, 18). Thus, each owes a filing fee of $400.00, as none of them applied for leave to proceed IFP in this matter. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1); Lucien v. Jockisch, 133 F.3d 464, 467 (7th Cir. 1998). A separate order shall issue directing the institutional trust fund officer to deduct payments from each Plaintiff's prisoner trust fund account in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b).

II. Remaining Plaintiffs Harris and Mosby

Co-Plaintiffs Delcheva Harris and Jeremy Mosby have both complied with the Court's orders, and both signed the original complaint (Doc. 1). However, the last documents mailed to Plaintiff Harris were returned to the Clerk of Court as undeliverable (Docs. 20, 24). If Harris does not submit an updated address to the Court, his claims shall also be subject to dismissal. The Court shall now turn to the merits of the complaint, which is summarized below.

III. The Complaint (Doc. 1)

The complaint was signed by both remaining Plaintiffs, as well as by most of the now-dismissed co-Plaintiffs. In it, they allege that on multiple occasions, they and other fellow detainees were made to line up together in view of each other, remove their clothing, spread their buttocks, lift their genitals, and open their mouths for visual inspection (Doc. 1, p. 3). The strip searches were conducted in the view of "multiple officers" walking past the group of detainees. Plaintiffs ...


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