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Gurley v. Doe

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois

February 21, 2018

JEFFREY ROBERT GURLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN DOE #1, JOHN DOE #2, JOHN DOE #3, JOHN DOE #4, JOHN DOE #6, JOHN DOE #7, JOHN DOE #10, JOHN DOE #11, JOHN DOE #12, JOHN DOE #15, HUBBER, GOTAY, WEDEL, JONES, JANE DOE #20, NWARU, PEREZ, STOVER, ROGERS, JOHN DOE #26, LORINZE, BRIDGE, CAUSALENO, DAVIS, CHAVEZ, WILSON, KIM, ORONA, HEIN, BAKER, FITZPATRICK, JANE DOE #39, POWELL, JEWEL, SMITH, SZUL, PETTERSON, CCDOC, CCDOC CERMARK HEALTH SERVICES, JOHN DOE #47, BAKER, MCGORDE, SANTOS, JOHN DOE #52, HOUSKIN, JOHN DOE #54, and WEXFORD HEALTH SERVICES Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Jeffrey Gurley, an inmate of Menard Correctional Center, brings this action seeking damages for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 regarding events that occurred at Cook County Jail and Menard Correctional Center. Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief, damages, and fees and costs. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening - The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal - On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         The Court's initial review of the Complaint suggests that there are parties and claims that are improperly joined in this action pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20. Thus, before screening the case on the merits, the Court must sever this action into separate cases.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff was placed in restraints on January 9, 2017 to be transported to Maybrook Courthouse. (Doc. 1, pp. 38-29). At the time, he was in the custody of the Cook County Department of Corrections (“CCDOC”), located in Cook County, Illinois. While shackled, Plaintiff fell down some stairs, allegedly due to the negligence of John Does #1 and #2. (Doc. 1, p. 40). Plaintiff immediately experienced pain in his back and neck. (Doc. 1, p. 40). He alleges that everyone that responded to the incident, including paramedics and hospital staff, was deliberately indifferent and negligent. (Doc. 1, pp. 41-46). Plaintiff alleges that he was denied adequate medical care for his neck and back pain after the incident by CCDOC, Cermak Health Services, and many of the individual defendants associated with CCDOC from January 9, 2017 through May 17, 2017. (Doc. 1, pp. 38, 46-60) (Doc. 1-1, pp. 1-18).

         Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants at the CCDOC were deliberately indifferent to his safety in his weakened and recovering condition. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 18-23). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he was attacked by several other inmates on January 27, 2017 while incarcerated at Cook County Jail, and that CCDOC staff was negligent and deliberately indifferent in failing to prevent or properly respond to the attack. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 23-45).

         Plaintiff was transferred to Menard Correctional Center sometime between April 2017 and July 2, 2017. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 49-50). Plaintiff made complaints regarding his injury to Menard staff on July 2, 2017 and August 1, 2017 and requested an extra mattress and stronger medication. (Doc. 1-1, p. 50). On September 4, 2017, Plaintiff complained to John Doe #54, the doctor at Menard, that his medication was not helping his continuous pain. Id. Doe #54 denied Plaintiff's requests for an extra mattress and different pain medication. Id. Instead, Doe #54 prescribed physical therapy. Id. Plaintiff alleges he was only permitted to attend physical therapy 9 times and that the quality was poor. (Doc. 1-1, p. 51). Plaintiff renewed his request for “more useful” medication on January 20, 2018. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Doe #54 and Wexford were negligent in protecting Plaintiff, and failed to provide him with suitable quarters and adequate health care.

         Discussion

         In George v. Smith, the Seventh Circuit emphasized that unrelated claims against different defendants belong in separate lawsuits, “not only to prevent the sort of morass” produced by multi-claim, multi-defendant suits, “but also to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees” under the Prison Litigation Reform Act. 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(g)); Wheeler v. Talbot, 695 F. App'x 151, 152 (7th Cir. 2017) (failing to sever mis-joined claims prejudices the United States Treasury); Owens v. Godinez, 860 F.3d 434, 436 (7th Cir. 2017). A prisoner who files a “buckshot complaint” that includes multiple unrelated claims against different individuals should not be allowed to avoid “risking multiple strikes for what should have been several different lawsuits.” Turley v. Gaetz, 625 F.3d 1005, 1011 (7th Cir. 2010). The Court has broad discretion as to whether to sever claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 21 or to dismiss improperly joined Defendants. See Owens v. Hinsely, 635 F.3d 950, 952 (7th Cir. 2011); Rice v. Sunrise Express, Inc., 209 F.3d 1008, 1016 (7th Cir. 2000).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20 permits joinder of all claims that “aris[e] out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; [when] any question of law of fact common to all defendants will arise in the action.” That means that a plaintiff cannot join separate claims against different defendants or sets of defendants in the same lawsuit, unless the plaintiff asserts a claim for relief against each defendant that arises out of the same ...


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