United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. Rosenstengel Chief U.S. District Judge.
matter is currently before the Court sua sponte for
case management purposes. Plaintiff Steven Podkulski filed
suit in the Southern District of Illinois on November 27,
2017, along with a motion to proceed in forma
pauperis (“IFP”). Docs. 1, 2. Podkulski
listed his address as a home on Ocean Street in Lynn,
Massachusetts, and insinuated that he was not incarcerated.
Docs. 1, 2, 3.
fact of incarceration matters because a plaintiff who is a
prisoner at the time his case is filed is subject to the
restrictions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act. In
particular, the Court is required to promptly screen the
complaint and dismiss any claims that are frivolous,
malicious, or fail to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. And anytime a case or an
appeal is dismissed for one of these reasons, the plaintiff
incurs a “strike.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915g. Once
the plaintiff earns three strikes, he is prohibited from
proceeding IFP in any future civil action or on any appeal,
unless he is under imminent danger of serious physical
Court, operating under the assumption that Podkulski was not
a prisoner at the time he filed suit, assessed and granted
Podkulski's motion to proceed IFP. Doc. 6. The Court then
reviewed Podkulski's complaint and determined that some
of his claims were improperly joined in the action, and those
claims were severed into two separate cases:
18-cv-214-NJR-MAB and 18-cv-246-MJR. Id. at Doc. 7.
Podkulski was permitted to proceed IFP in case
18-cv-214-NJR-MAB. Podkulski v. Butler, No.
18-cv-214-NJR-MAB (S.D. Ill.), Doc. 7. But in case
18-cv-246-MJR, it was determined that Podkulski's claim
was legally frivolous, and he was consequently denied leave
to proceed IFP and his complaint was dismissed with prejudice
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). Podkulski
v. Niepert, No. 18-cv-246-MJR (S.D. Ill.), Doc. 5.
Court has since learned that it was incorrect about
Podkulski's status as a non-prisoner. The Court's own
research revealed that Podkulski has an extensive litigation
history in the federal district courts in Illinois. In fact,
he has filed over thirty lawsuits. After reviewing
the docket in many of those lawsuits, as well as consulting
publicly-available databases and running Google searches of
Podkulski's name, the Court now knows that Podkulski was
incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections in
2001 following convictions on burglary and theft charges.
People v. Podkulski, No. 1-12-2554, 2014 WL 5315178
(Ill.App.Ct. Oct. 16, 2014); People v. Podkulski,
No. 3-12-0375, 2013 WL 5728256 (Ill.App.Ct. Oct. 17, 2013).
He was scheduled to be released on parole October 22, 2014,
but he was arrested that very day for the stabbing death of a
woman twelve years earlier. Podkulski was booked into the
Cook County Jail on October 23, 2014, and remains there to
of course, means that Podkulski was incarcerated at the time
he filed his complaint in this case on November 27, 2017.
Unfortunately, however, Podkulski omitted any mention in his
complaint (and the documents filed contemporaneously with his
complaint) that he was incarcerated. Docs. 1, 2, 3. He also
took steps to actively conceal the fact that he was
incarcerated by providing the Court with the address of a
private home. The Court notes this is not the first time
Podkulski has done such a thing. Podkulski filed IFP motions
misrepresenting that he was not incarcerated in at least two
other cases in the Northern District of Illinois; those cases
were dismissed when Podkulski failed to respond to show cause
orders regarding his deception. See Podkulski v. Miles,
et al., No. 17 C 8629, Docs. 18, 20 (N.D. Ill. May 23,
2019); Podkulski v. Williams, et al., No. 14 C
10104, Docs. 9, 21 (N.D. Ill. June 8, 2015).
Court has also learned that Podkulski incurred three strikes
prior to filing his lawsuit in this district. At least three
of approximately thirty civil rights actions Podkulski has
filed while he was incarcerated or detained have been
dismissed on the grounds that they were frivolous, malicious,
or failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
See, e.g., Podkulski v. Snyder, No. 03 CV 5924 (N.D.
Ill.) (Doc. 4) (dismissing case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B) for failure to state an actionable federal
claim); Podkulski v. Walker, No. 07 CV 1664 (N.D.
Ill.) (Doc. 8) (dismissing case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B) for failure to state an actionable claim); and
Podkulski v. Olson, No. 16 CV 3331 (N.D. Ill.) (Doc.
51) (dismissing case on the basis of res
judicata).Consequently, Podkulski is no longer
entitled to proceed IFP without prepayment of the filing fee
unless he is in imminent danger.
appearances, Podkulski was aware that he had struck out
before he filed his lawsuit in this district on November 27,
2017, because he had been told as much just fourteen days
earlier in one of his other lawsuits in the Northern District
of Illinois. Podkulski v. Merritt, et al. No.
18-cv-7205 (N.D. Ill.) (Doc. 6). “A litigant who knows
that he has accumulated three or more frivolous suits or
appeals must alert the court to that fact.” Ammons
v. Gerlinger, 547 F.3d 724, 725 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing
Sloan v. Lesza, 181 F.3d 857, 858-59 (7th
Cir.1999)). But at the outset of his case, Podkulski did not
disclose to this Court his full litigation history, nor did
he indicate that he had received three strikes. Podkulski
v. Trost, et al., No. 17-cv-1284-NJR-GCS (S.D. Ill.),
see Doc. 1, pp. 2, 6. He also did not make any
effort to correct the Court's oversight of this fact, and
he accepted the benefit of proceeding without prepaying the
filing fee, which he knows he is not entitled to.
of Podkulski's deception-or perhaps outright
fraud-regarding his incarceration and status as a
three-striker, his case is dismissed with prejudice. Isby
v. Brown, 856 F.3d 508, 521 (7th Cir. 2017)
(“Restricted filers must still alert the court to their
three-strikes status or risk dismissal and termination of
their suits ‘not only for lack of payment but also as a
sanction for misconduct.'”) (quoting
Ammons, 547 F.3d at 725). Sloan v. Lesza,
181 F.3d 857, 859 (7th Cir. 1999) (“Litigants to whom
§ 1915(g) applies take heed! An effort to bamboozle the
court by seeking permission to proceed in forma
pauperis after a federal judge has held that §
1915(g) applies to a particular litigant will lead to
immediate termination of the suit.”) See also
Hoskins v. Dart, 633 F.3d 541, 544 (7th Cir. 2011)
(affirming dismissal of case for deception about litigation
Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to enter judgment
IS SO ORDERED.
 Don Babwin, Man Charged in 2002
Suburban Chicago Slaying, Associated Press,
20Case%20IDOC%20Help%2023Oct14.pdf (last visited June 25,
2019); B.J. Lutz and Lauren Petty, Man