Pasley et al v. Crammer et al
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiffs Marshall, Davis, Buckley, Lacy, Turner, and Rush shall advise the Court in writing on or before November 16, 2017, whether they wish to continue as a plaintiff in this group action. Any plaintiff who simply doe s not respond to this Order on or before November 16, 2017, will be obligated to pay the filing fee and will also be dismissed from this action for want of prosecution and/or for failure to comply with a court order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b). (Action due by 11/16/2017). Signed by Judge J. Phil Gilbert on 10/16/2017. (tjk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
TAIWAN M. DAVIS,
RICHARD TURNER, and
RAYMOND A. RUSH
Case No. 17−cv–1085−JPG
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
GILBERT, District Judge:
This matter is before the Court for case management. The Complaint was filed by 7
individuals who appear to be incarcerated at the Alton Law Enforcement Center; although
Marshall and Buckley are said to be in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Corrections, the
Court has been unable to confirm this on the BOP’s website. Plaintiffs have alleged their
constitutional rights are being violated at the Alton City Jail. (Doc. 1). Specifically, they allege
that they are being denied access to the courts and subjected to unconstitutional conditions of
confinement. (Doc. 1). However, to date, Plaintiffs have neglected to pay their filing fees or
move to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 2).
All of the Plaintiffs named in the case caption signed the Complaint (Doc. 1, pp. 8, 11 ).
Under the circumstances, the Court deems it necessary to address several preliminary matters
before completing a review of this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Group Litigation by Multiple Prisoners
Plaintiffs may bring their claims jointly in a single lawsuit if they so desire.
However, the Court must admonish them as to 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 actions.
In 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.” Nonetheless, a district court may turn to other civil rules to manage a multiplaintiff 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.
The Circuit noted that there 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 7 plaintiffs, the plaintiffs’
postage and copying costs of filing motions, briefs or other papers in the case will be seven times
what it would be if there was a single plaintiff.
Second, 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. According to the Seventh Circuit, 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 into account this ruling in determining whether to assume the
risks of group litigation in the federal courts of the Seventh Circuit.
Because not every prisoner is likely to be aware of the potential negative consequences of
joining group litigation in federal courts, the Seventh Circuit suggested in Boriboune that district
courts alert prisoners to the individual payment requirement, as well as the other risks prisoner
pro se litigants face in joint pro se litigation, and “give them an opportunity to drop out.” Id. at
856. It appears to the Court that Pasley drafted the Complaint, and the Court will designate him
as the “lead” Plaintiff in this case. Marshall, Davis, Buckley, Lacy, Turner, and Rush will be
given an opportunity to withdraw from this litigation before the case progresses further.
Marshall, Davis, Buckley, Lacy, Turner, and Rush may wish to take into consideration the
following points in making their 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
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 and pay a separate filing fee for each new action.
Whether the action is dismissed, severed, or allowed to proceed as
a group complaint, he will be required to pay a full filing fee,
either in installments or in full, depending on whether he qualifies
for indigent status under §§ 1915(b) or (g).1
In addition, if the plaintiffs desire to continue this litigation as a group, any proposed
amended complaint, motion, or other document filed on behalf of multiple plaintiffs must be
signed by each of the plaintiffs. As long as the plaintiffs appear without counsel in this action,
each plaintiff must sign all documents for himself. See Lewis v. Lenc-Smith Mfg. Co., 784 F.2d
829, 831 (7th Cir. 1986); FED. R. CIV. P. 11.2 A non-attorney cannot file or sign papers for
another litigant. Plaintiffs are WARNED that future group motions or pleadings that do not
Effective May 1, 2013, the filing fee for a civil case was increased to $400.00, by the addition of a new
$50.00 administrative fee for filing a civil action, suit, or proceeding in a district court.
See Judicial Conference Schedule of Fees - District Court Miscellaneous Fee Schedule, 28 U.S.C. § 1914,
No. 14. A litigant who is granted IFP status, however, is exempt from paying the new $50.00 fee and
must pay a total fee of $350.00.
Rule 11 states, in pertinent part: “Every pleading, written motion, and other paper must be signed . . . by
a party personally if the party is unrepresented.” FED. R. CIV. P. 11(a). Moreover, a prisoner bringing a
pro se action cannot represent a class of plaintiffs. See Oxendine v. Williams, 509 F.2d 1405, 1407
(4th Cir. 1975) (holding it would be plain error to permit imprisoned pro se litigant to represent his fellow
inmates in a class action).
comply with this requirement shall be stricken pursuant to Rule 11(a).
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiffs Marshall, Davis, Buckley, Lacy, Turner, and
Rush shall advise the Court in writing on or before November 16, 2017, whether they wish to
continue as a plaintiff in this group action. If, by that deadline, Marshall, Davis, Buckley, Lacy,
Turner, or Rush informs the Court that he does not wish to participate in the action, he will be
dismissed from the lawsuit and will not be charged a filing fee for this action.3 This is the only
way to avoid the obligation to pay a filing fee for this action.
IT IS ALSO ORDERED that if Marshall, Davis, Buckley, Lacy, Turner, or Rush wants
to pursue his claims individually in a separate lawsuit, he shall so advise the Court in writing,
and his claims shall be severed into a new action where a filing fee will be assessed.
Each plaintiff who chooses to continue as a plaintiff either in this action or in a severed
individual case, is hereby ORDERED to pay his filing fee of $400.00 or file a properly
completed IFP Motion on or before November 30, 2017. When a plaintiff files an IFP Motion,
the Court must review that plaintiff’s trust fund account statement for the six month period
immediately preceding the filing of this action. Thus, each plaintiff must have the Trust Fund
Officer at his facility complete the attached certification and provide a copy of his trust fund
account statement (or institutional equivalent) for the period 4/1/2017 to 10/10/17.
This information should be mailed to the Clerk of Court at the following address: United States
District Court – Southern District of Illinois, 750 Missouri Avenue, East St. Louis, Illinois
Failure to submit a properly completed IFP Motion does not relieve that plaintiff of the
As the lead Plaintiff, Geoffrey W. Freeman may choose to voluntarily dismiss or sever his claims, but
may not escape his obligation to pay the filing fee for this action, which was incurred when the action was
filed. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1); Lucien v. Jockisch, 133 F.3d 464, 467-68 (7th Cir. 1998).
obligation to pay a filing fee, unless he also submits timely written notice that he does not intend
to proceed with the action. Any plaintiff who simply does not respond to this Order on or
before November 16, 2017 , will be obligated to pay the filing fee and will also be dismissed
from this action for want of prosecution and/or for failure to comply with a court order
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b).
In addition, plaintiffs are again WARNED that future group motions or pleadings that do
not comply with the group pleading requirements discussed herein shall be stricken pursuant to
The Clerk is DIRECTED to send a copy of this order to each of the named plaintiffs, ,
and to enclose a blank form IFP Motion and trust fund account certification form for Suntez
Pasley, Derek Marshall, Taiwan M. Davis, Shawn Buckley, Britt Lacy, Richard Turner, and
Plaintiffs are ADVISED that the Complaint is currently awaiting preliminary review by
the Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, and it has not yet been served on the defendants.
Further action by the plaintiffs is required before the Court can complete its preliminary review
of this matter under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. When this review is completed, a copy of the Court’s
order will be forwarded to each plaintiff who remains in the action.
Plaintiffs are further ADVISED that each of them is under a continuing obligation to
keep the Clerk of Court and each opposing party informed of any change in his address;
the Court will not independently investigate a plaintiff’s whereabouts. This shall be done in
writing and not later than 7 days after a transfer or other change in address occurs. Failure to
comply with this order will cause a delay in the transmission of court documents and may result
in dismissal of this action for want of prosecution. See FED. R. CIV. P. 41(b).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: October 16, 2017
s/J. Phil Gilbert
United States District Judge
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