Al-Bukhari v. Correction et al
ORDER Dismissing Amended Complaint. The plaintiff's initial complaint remains in effect and the plaintiff may pursue those claims in accordance with my 24 Initial Review Order. Signed by Judge Stefan R. Underhill on 5/17/2017. (Landman, M)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
JA QURE AL-BUKHARI,
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, et
NO. 3:16-cv-1267 (SRU)
ORDER DISMISSING AMENDED COMPLAINT
Ja Qure Al-Bukhari, currently incarcerated at Northern Correctional Institution in
Somers, Connecticut, filed this case pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Al-Bukhari alleges that the
defendants violated his First Amendment right to freely exercise his religion and his rights under
the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc, by
denying him religious books. On August 31, 2016, Al-Bukhari filed an amended complaint.
Under section 1915A of Title 28 of the United States Code, I must review prisoner civil
complaints and dismiss any portion of the complaint that is frivolous or malicious, that fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a defendant
who is immune from such relief. Id. Rule 15(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
provides that leave to amend should be freely granted when justice so requires. See Turner v.
Boyle, ___ F. Supp. 3d ____, 2015 WL 4393005, at *27 (D. Conn. July 15, 2015) (noting that the
Second Circuit encourages district courts “to allow pro se parties to amend their pleadings ‘when
justice so requires’”). However, the district court retains the discretion to grant or deny leave to
amend. McCarthy v. Dun & Bradstreet Corp., 482 F.3d 184, 200 (2d Cir. 2007).
The original complaint concerns the denial of Al-Bukhari’s religious books following his
transfer to Northern Correctional Institution in June 2016. The amended complaint spans the
period from December 2015 through July 2016 and seeks to add claims for promoting the
Christian religion by permitting employee holiday parties, denying inmate mental health and
medical requests during holiday parties, denial of religious accommodations regarding
performing various cleansing rituals, denial of Halal foods, and requiring him to walk to the
shower while naked.
The amended complaint must comply with Rule 20’s requirements governing party
joinder. Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2). Rule 20(a)(2) permits the joinder of multiple defendants in a
single action if two criteria are met: first, the claims “aris[e] out of the same transaction,
occurrence, or series of transactions and occurrences”; and second, “any question of law or fact
common to all defendants will arise in the action.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2).
“What will constitute the same transaction or occurrence under the first prong of Rule
20(a) is approached on a case by case basis.” Kehr ex rel. Kehr v. Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A.,
596 F. Supp. 2d 821, 826 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) (citation omitted). As the Second Circuit has
observed in the Rule 13 context,1 whether a counterclaim arises out of the same transaction as
the original claim depends upon the logical relationship between the claims and whether the
“essential facts of the various claims are so logically connected that considerations of judicial
economy and fairness dictate that all the issues be resolved in one lawsuit.” Harris v. Steinem,
571 F.2d 119, 123 (2d Cir. 1978).
The new claims are unrelated to the discrete claim in the original complaint. Although
the new allegations relate to religion, they are not factually related to the original claim. In
addition, the new defendants are unrelated to the original claim. Because the new claims do not
“aris[e] out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions and occurrences,” Fed.
R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2), as the original claim, the amended complaint fails to comply with Rule 20.2
Thus, those claims are better pursued in a separate action.
The amended complaint [Doc. #9] is hereby DISMISSED as improperly filed in this
case. The case will proceed only on the claim in the original complaint. If Al-Bukhari wishes to
proceed on the additional claims, he should do so in a separate case.
SO ORDERED this 17th day of May 2017 at Bridgeport, Connecticut.
/s/STEFAN R. UNDERHILL
Stefan R. Underhill
United States District Judge
“In construing the term ‘transaction or occurrence’ under Rule 20, many courts have drawn guidance
from the use of the same term in Rule 13(a), applying to compulsory counterclaims.” Barnhart v. Town of Parma,
252 F.R.D. 156, 160 (W.D.N.Y. 2008) (citation omitted).
The court notes that Rule 20 is becoming increasingly important to district courts tasked with reviewing
prisoner’s complaints pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. As two commentators have noted:
In the past, courts did not always pay much attention to this rule. However, nowadays they are
concerned that prisoners will try to avoid the filing fee and “three strikes” provisions of the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) by joining claims in one complaint that really should be filed in
separate actions which require separate filing fees and would count as separate “strikes” if
dismissed on certain grounds.
John Boston & Daniel E. Manville, Prisoners’ Self-Help Litigation Manual 348 (4th ed. 2010) (collecting cases).
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