United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
BRIAN A. TAPP, NO. K03142, and DAVID P. HOFFMAN, NO. N02738, Plaintiffs,
JESSICA D. STOVER, C. THOMAS HOLT, DANIEL Q. SULLIVAN, and JOHN R. BALDWIN, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court for case management. Plaintiffs
Brian A. Tapp and David P. Hoffman, both inmates of the
Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”)
currently incarcerated at Big Muddy River Correctional
Center, bring this pro se action for deprivations of
their constitutional rights pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1983. Both Plaintiffs have been civilly confined
under the Illinois Sexually Dangerous Persons Act (“SDP
Act”), claim that Defendants have failed to provide
them with mandated treatment, and challenge the
constitutionality of the SDP Act. Plaintiffs seek declarative
relief, injunctive relief, and monetary damages.
the Court screens the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A,  it is necessary to address some
preliminary matters related to the attempt to jointly file
this case as a group action.
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.
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 two 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
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, each plaintiff will be
liable for another full filing fee for each new case.
Plaintiffs may wish to take this ruling into account in
determining whether to assume the risks of group litigation
in the federal courts of the Seventh Circuit.
keeping with this suggestion, the Court offers each Plaintiff
an opportunity to withdraw from this litigation before the
case progresses further. Each Plaintiff may wish to take into
consideration the following points in making his decision:
• He will be held legally responsible for knowing
precisely what is being filed in the case on his behalf.
• He will be subject to sanctions under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 11 if such sanctions are found warranted in
any aspect of the case.
• He will incur a strike if the action is dismissed as
frivolous or malicious or for failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted.
• In screening the complaint, the Court will consider
whether unrelated claims should be severed and, if it decides
severance is appropriate, he will be required to prosecute
his claims in a separate action ...