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Bentz v. Godinez

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 6, 2018

DAVID ROBERT BENTZ, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
SALVADOR GODINEZ, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          MICHAEL J. REAGAN UNITED STATES CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff David Bentz is currently incarcerated in Menard Correctional Center. This matter is before the Court on “Plaintiff's Response to Court Order D/E #130 for Sanctions and Affidavit” (Doc. 144), filed in response to the Court's Show Cause Order. (Doc. 130). For the reasons set forth herein, this case will be dismissed with prejudice as a sanction against Plaintiff. Plaintiff's pending Motion to Appoint Counsel (Doc. 22) and Motion for Order, Motion for Status (Doc. 141) will also be DENIED as moot.

         Background

         The facts relevant to the issue herein are articulated at length in this Court's Show Cause Order (Doc. 130) and are incorporated by reference herein.[1] In essence, multiple individuals who were named as plaintiffs in this case filed by Plaintiff Bentz have claimed in various motions and affidavits that Plaintiff Bentz added them to this action without their permission, forged their signatures, and/or used their signatures on filings in this case, including the complaint, that they did not have an opportunity to review. See (Doc. 119, p. 2); (Doc. 126, p. 1); (Doc. 111, p. 1); (Doc. 128, p. 1); (Doc. 109, p. 1); (Doc. 52, p. 1); (Doc. 95, p. 1); (Doc. 94, p. 1); (Doc. 120, pp. 2-3); (Doc. 60, p. 1); (Doc. 21, p. 1); (Doc. 139). The Court also noted in its Show Cause Order that Plaintiff Bentz was warned recently in several cases that sanctions would be imposed against him if he attempted to deceive the court.[2] See (Doc. 130, pp. 4-5) (collecting cases).

         On November 17, 2017, the Court ordered Plaintiff Bentz to show cause why this case should not be dismissed as a sanction for forging at least one fellow plaintiff's signature, including individuals in this lawsuit as plaintiffs without their knowledge or consent, and submitting the First Amended Complaint with signatures from plaintiffs who were not given the opportunity to review it. (Doc. 130, pp. 1, 7-8) (citing Ayoubi v. Dart, 640 F. App'x 524, 528-29 (7th Cir. 2016) (citing Rivera v. Drake, 767 F.3d 685, 686-87 (7th Cir. 2014); Hoskins v. Dart, 633 F.3d 541, 543-44 (7th Cir. 2011); Mathis v. N.Y. Life Ins. Co., 133 F.3d 546, 547 (7th Cir. 1998); Jackson v. Murphy, 468 F. App'x 616, 620 (7th Cir. 2012))).

         Show Cause Response and Issuance of Sanctions

         Plaintiff Bentz's response to the Show Cause Order has not altered the Court's conclusion that dismissal is warranted in this case, for Plaintiff's attempt to deceive the Court described herein and in the Show Cause Order.

         In his Response (Doc. 144), Plaintiff Bentz claims that he “did not witness any plaintiff's signature[s] and cannot say for [a] fact if plaintiffs signed any documents.” (Doc. 144, p. 1). Plaintiff Bentz also claims that he “did not sing [sic], doctor, forge, missleed [sic] Court, or file any document with such a signature of plaintiff[s] with this Court in this action.” Id. Plaintiff claims that the “allegations against Plaintiff Bentz by this Court are (or Plaintiffs) in fact supported by no evidence at all, and are simply bias to Plaintiff Bentz.” Id. Plaintiff also takes issue with this Court's citation of several of his previous cases in its Show Cause Order, claiming that the accusations of dishonesty against him in those cases are false. Id.

         The Court finds Plaintiff Bentz's arguments unpersuasive. He claims that there is no evidence of his wrongdoing, when in fact at least ten former plaintiffs in this action have submitted affidavits and/or motions attesting to the various ways in which he appears to have attempted to use their names and/or signatures inappropriately in this case. See (Doc. 130, pp. 2-4); (Doc. 139). Plaintiff also claims that accusations of dishonesty leveled against him in previous actions are untrue, but the Court does not rely on previous accusations to find that Plaintiff has attempted to deceive the Court in this case. Instead, it referenced these previous instances to illustrate that Plaintiff was on notice when he filed this action that attempts to deceive the Court, including forging other inmates' signatures, are sanctionable. The Court also finds it notable, if not probative, that accusations or suggestions of potential dishonesty on the part of Plaintiff Bentz are not uncommon in his cases.[3]

         For the aforementioned reasons, and those outlined in this Court's Show Cause Order (Doc. 130), this case will be dismissed with prejudice as a sanction for Plaintiff Bentz's attempts to deceive the Court.

         Disposition

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that this action is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE as a sanction for Plaintiff Bentz forging at least one fellow plaintiff's signature, including individuals in this lawsuit as plaintiffs without their knowledge or consent, and submitting the First Amended Complaint with signatures from plaintiffs who were not given the opportunity to review it. Plaintiff's Motion to Appoint Counsel (Doc. 22) and Motion for Order, Motion for Status (Doc. 141) are DENIED as MOOT.

         This dismissal shall not count as a “strike” under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).

         The Clerk is DIRECTED to close this case and ...


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