Cobb v Hyett et al
OPINION AND ORDER: The court GRANTS Malcom D. Cobb, Jr. until 10/12/2020 to file an amended complaint and to resolve his filing fee status and CAUTIONS Malcom D. Cobb, Jr. that, if he does not respond by that deadline, this case will be dismissed without further notice. Signed by Judge Damon R Leichty on 9/14/2020. (Copy mailed to pro se party)(bas)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
MALCOM D. COBB, JR.,
CAUSE NO. 3:20-CV-623-DRL-MGG
WARDEN HYETT et al.,
OPINION & ORDER
Malcom D. Cobb, Jr., a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint. “A document
filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded,
must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Nevertheless, [u]nrelated claims against different
defendants belong in different suits[.]” George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007).
A litigant cannot throw all of his grievances, against dozens of different
parties, into one stewpot. Joinder that requires the inclusion of extra parties
is limited to claims arising from the same transaction or series of related
transactions. To be precise: a plaintiff may put in one complaint every claim
of any kind against a single defendant, per Rule 18(a), but a complaint may
present claim # 1 against Defendant A, and claim # 2 against Defendant B,
only if both claims arise “out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series
of transactions or occurrences.”
Wheeler v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., 689 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2012).
In the complaint, Mr. Cobb, who cannot walk on his own, asserts claims based on
the following incidents:
On June 28, 2019, Warden Hyatte and Lieutenant Thompson confiscated
a chair from his cell, forcing him to crawl into his cell and reinjure his
On August 8, 2019, Major Powell ordered Lieutenant Snow to hand cuff
Mr. Cobb and drag him into his cell, which reinjured his leg.
In September 2019, Lieutenant Snow denied him access to a handicapaccessible table in the cafeteria and told him to “go lay down and die
On December 16, 2019, Deputy Warden Payne placed him in the
segregation unit in an unsanitary cell and denied him access to a
These incidents, as described in the complaint, don’t comprise a single transaction or
occurrence nor do they comprise a series of interrelated transactions or occurrences. See
In re EMC Corp., 677 F.3d 1351, 1356 (Fed. Cir. 2012) (stating that the operative test is
“whether there is substantial evidentiary overlap in the facts giving rise to the cause of
action against each defendant”); Malibu Media, LLC v. John Does 1-6, 291 F.R.D. 191, 201
(N.D. Ill. 2013) (same). Though these incidents may have occurred at the same
correctional facility, they involve different members of correctional staff engaging in
several types of conduct at various times throughout the course of six months. Therefore,
Mr. Cobb’s claims are unrelated, and he cannot litigate them all in a single lawsuit.
When a pro se plaintiff files a lawsuit with unrelated claims, this court’s practice is
to allow him to decide which claim (or group of related claims) to pursue in the instant
case and to allow him to decide whether to bring the remaining claims in separate
lawsuits. This is the fairest solution to the plaintiff because “the plaintiff as master of the
complaint may present (or abjure) any claim he likes.” Katz v. Gerardi, 552 F.3d 558, 563
(7th Cir. 2009).
Mr. Cobb also filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Because he did
not attach a copy of his prison account summary for the last six months as required by 28
U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2), the motion is denied. To proceed with this case, Mr. Cobb must either
immediately pay the filing fee in full or file a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
If he chooses to file a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, he should request this
court’s form motion from the law library and must attach his prison account ledgers for
the last six months.
For these reasons, the court:
(1) GRANTS Malcom D. Cobb, Jr., until October 12, 2020 to file an amended
complaint and to resolve his filing fee status; and
(2) CAUTIONS Malcom D. Cobb, Jr., that, if he does not respond by that deadline,
this case will be dismissed without further notice.
September 14, 2020
s/ Damon R. Leichty
Judge, United States District Court
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