United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
CEDRIC CROSS, LARRY WILLIAMS, DANIEL PIPPINS, COURTNEY MCNEAL, and CHRISTOPHER FURR, Plaintiffs,
PHILIP MCLAURIN, ST. CLAIR COUNTY JAIL, ST. CLAIR COUNTY MEDICAL STAFF, MARY ROBINSON-DAVIS, and ARAMARK, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Phil Gilbert, United States District Judge
matter is before the Court for case management. The Complaint
was filed by five St. Clair County Jail ("Jail")
inmates, including Cedric Cross, Larry Williams, Daniel
Pippins, Courtney McNeal, and Christopher Furr. Plaintiffs
filed this civil rights action pro se pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. In the Complaint, Plaintiffs claim that
they have been subjected to unconstitutional conditions of
confinement at St. Clair County Jail and been denied access
to any meaningful grievance process. Together, they seek
monetary damages and injunctive relief. All five Plaintiffs
have signed the Complaint.
action was opened without payment of the filing fee or the
filing of a Motion and Affidavit to Proceed in District Court
Without Prepaying Fees or Costs. Accordingly, on July 5,
2017, the Clerk of Court sent Plaintiffs a letter (Doc. 2)
advising that Plaintiffs must prepay the full filing fee or
file an IFP Motion within thirty days. Plaintiffs were also
directed to provide a certified copy of their trust fund
account statements for the 6-month period immediately
preceding the filing of this action (i.e. 1/1/2017
through 7/5/2017). To date, only one Plaintiff, Daniel
Pippins, has filed an IFP Motion and trust fund account
statement. (Doc. 3).
the circumstances, the Court deems it necessary to address
several preliminary matters before completing a review of
this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Motion or Filing Fee
Court hereby extends Plaintiffs' deadline for prepaying
the full filing fee or filing an IFP Motion to August 24,
2017. The Court advises Plaintiffs that each
Plaintiff is required to submit a separate IFP
Motion, along with a certified copy of his trust fund
statement for the relevant time period, or pay the full
$400.00 filing fee for this action. Submissions must be
according to the instructions in the below disposition.
Failure to do so will result in the dismissal of that
Plaintiff from this action. However, the obligation to pay
the filing fee shall survive such dismissal.
of Plaintiff Christopher Furr
Christopher Furr has filed a Motion to Withdraw from the
Case. (Doc. 4). The Motion to Withdraw shall be GRANTED.
Plaintiff Christopher Furr shall be terminated as a party to
this action. He shall not be obligated to pay a filing fee or
receive a “strike” for this action under 28
U.S.C. § 1915(g). His claims are considered dismissed
without prejudice, but he must bring a separate action, if he
wishes to pursue the claims in the future.
Litigation by Multiple Prisoners
may bring their claims jointly in a single lawsuit if they so
desire. However, the Court must caution them regarding the
consequences of proceeding in this manner, including their
filing fee obligations, and give them the opportunity to
withdraw from the case or sever their claims into individual
Boriboune v. Berge, 391 F.3d 852 (7th Cir. 2004),
the Seventh Circuit addressed the difficulties in
administering group prisoner complaints. District courts are
required to accept joint complaints filed by multiple
prisoners if the criteria of
permissive joinder under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20
are satisfied. Rule 20 permits plaintiffs to join together in
one lawsuit if they assert claims “arising out of the
same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or
occurrences and if any question of law or fact common to
these persons will arise in the action.” That said, a
district court may turn to other civil rules to manage a
multi-plaintiff case. If appropriate, claims may be severed
pursuant to Rule 20(b), pretrial orders may be issued
providing for a logical sequence of decisions pursuant to
Rule 16, parties improperly joined may be dropped pursuant to
Rule 21 and separate trials may be ordered pursuant to Rule
42(b). Boriboune, 391 F.3d at 854.
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. In other words, each
prisoner in a joint action is required to pay a full civil
filing fee, just as if he had filed the suit individually.
Court 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 2 plaintiffs, the
plaintiffs' postage and copying costs of filing motions,
briefs or other papers in the case will be double what it
would be if there was a single plaintiff.
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, the plaintiffs will be
liable for another full filing fee for each new case. See
George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 2007). The
Seventh Circuit in Owens v. Godinez, 860 F.3d 434
(7th Cir. 2017), recently issued strong encouragement to