Simpson v. Lee County, Alabama et al (INMATE 1)
ORDER adopting the 21 Recommendation; overruling the 24 Objection; granting the 16 Motion to Dismiss. Signed by Chief Judge William Keith Watkins on 6/21/2011. (br, )
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
LEE COUNTY, ALABAMA, et al.,
CASE NO. 3:10-CV-908-WKW
On May 5, 2011, the Magistrate Judge filed a Recommendation (Doc. # 21) that
this court grant Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (Doc. # 16) Plaintiff’s 42 U.S.C. §
(Doc. # 1.)
Plaintiff has filed a timely Objection to the
Recommendation. (Doc. # 24.) Defendants have filed a Response. (Doc. # 25.) The
court reviews de novo the portion of the Recommendation to which the Objection
applies. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). For the reasons that follow, the Objection is due to
be overruled and the Recommendation adopted.
Plaintiff’s first objection is to the Magistrate Judge’s conclusion that “[a]ll the
elements of res judicata are met under Alabama law and [Plaintiff’s] claims are
precluded.” (Doc. # 21, at 9.) Prior to filing this lawsuit, Mr. Simpson was a named
plaintiff in a civil action filed in Lee County Circuit Court, in which he and other
plaintiffs asserted various state law claims against the same defendants based on the
same incident. (Doc. # 16, Attach. 1; Compl., at 5-6.) Although much of Plaintiff’s
objection to the res judicata finding falls under his heading “Statute of Limitations,”
his argument is essentially that, as an incarcerated prisoner, he was unable to attend
the May 3, 2010 court hearing, at which his claim was dismissed with prejudice for
failing to appear and failing to respond to the state court defendants’ motion to
Plaintiff first argues that the state court judgment should not receive preclusive
effect because he was not offered transportation to the May 3, 2010 hearing to oppose
dismissal of the case. However, Plaintiff concedes that he received an order from the
state court several days prior to the May 3, 2010 hearing, which authorized Plaintiff
to attend the hearing but required him to make transportation arrangements with the
Sheriff’s Department and pay for such transportation. (Doc. # 24, at 5.) Based on
Plaintiff’s absence at the hearing, it is evident that Plaintiff made no such
arrangements. Furthermore, the court is unaware of any right of a prisoner to have the
state pay for transportation to court for a civil case in which the prisoner is a plaintiff.
See, e.g., Manning v. Tefft, 839 F. Supp. 126, 130 (D.R.I. 1994) (“[G]enerally
speaking, a prisoner who is a plaintiff in a civil case must bear the cost of transporting
himself to the place of trial and is not entitled to have that cost paid by the
It appears that the rest of Plaintiff’s res judicata argument is directed at the first
element of the res judicata defense, that the state court’s order of dismissal was not
“on the merits” since Plaintiff never responded or appeared at the hearing. This
argument is without merit because the state court dismissed the case with prejudice.
See Hammermill Paper Co. v. Montreal Boyette Sandlin Day, 336 So. 2d 166, 168
(Ala. 1976) (holding that “[d]ismissal with prejudice of the prior action was an
adjudication on its merits”); Gonzalez, LLC v. DiVincenti, 844 So. 2d 1196, 1203
(Ala. 2002) (same) (citing Hammermill Paper Co.).
Statute of Limitations
Plaintiff also objects to the Magistrate Judge’s conclusion that his claims are
barred by the statute of limitations, arguing that the limitations period should have
been tolled “in order to prevent a total miscarriage of justice . . . .” (Doc. # 24, at 4.)
The “miscarriage of justice” invoked by Plaintiff appears to be his contention that his
failure to appear at the state court May 3, 2010 hearing was “[t]hrough no fault of his
own.” (Doc. # 24, at 5.) As discussed above, a prisoner is not entitled to have the
government pay for transportation to and from a hearing in a civil case in which he is
a plaintiff. See Manning, 839 F. Supp. at 130. Plaintiff’s tolling argument is due to
Finally, because the court concludes that Plaintiff’s Complaint is precluded by
res judicata and barred by the statute of limitations, there is no need to address
Plaintiff’s contentions regarding the proper defendants for § 1983 relief.
Accordingly, it is ORDERED:
The Magistrate Judge’s Recommendation (Doc. # 21) is ADOPTED;
Plaintiff’s Objection (Doc. # 24) is OVERRULED; and
Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (Doc. # 16) is GRANTED.
An appropriate judgment will be entered.
DONE this 21st day of June, 2011.
/s/ W. Keith Watkins
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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