Johnson #236419 v. Sikon
OPINION; Order to issue; signed by Judge Janet T. Neff (Judge Janet T. Neff, clb)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
DWAYNE ANTHONY JOHNSON,
Case No. 1:17-cv-570
Honorable Janet T. Neff
OPINION DENYING LEAVE
TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS - THREE STRIKES
Plaintiff Dwayne Anthony Johnson, a prisoner incarcerated at Oaks Correctional
Facility, filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff seeks leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. Because Plaintiff has filed at least three lawsuits that were dismissed as frivolous,
malicious or for failure to state a claim, he is barred from proceeding in forma pauperis under 28
U.S.C. § 1915(g). The Court will order Plaintiff to pay the $400.00 civil action filing fee applicable
to those not permitted to proceed in forma pauperis within twenty-eight (28) days of this opinion
and accompanying order. If Plaintiff fails to do so, the Court will order that his action be dismissed
without prejudice. Even if the case is dismissed, Plaintiff will be responsible for payment of the
$400.00 filing fee in accordance with In re Alea, 286 F.3d 378, 380-81 (6th Cir. 2002).
The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321
(1996), which was enacted on April 26, 1996, amended the procedural rules governing a prisoner’s
request for the privilege of proceeding in forma pauperis. As the Sixth Circuit has stated, the PLRA
was “aimed at the skyrocketing numbers of claims filed by prisoners – many of which are
meritless – and the corresponding burden those filings have placed on the federal courts.” Hampton
v. Hobbs, 106 F.3d 1281, 1286 (6th Cir. 1997). For that reason, Congress put into place economic
incentives to prompt a prisoner to “stop and think” before filing a complaint. Id. For example, a
prisoner is liable for the civil action filing fee, and if the prisoner qualifies to proceed in forma
pauperis, the prisoner may pay the fee through partial payments as outlined in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b).
The constitutionality of the fee requirements of the PLRA has been upheld by the Sixth Circuit. Id.
In addition, another provision reinforces the “stop and think” aspect of the PLRA by
preventing a prisoner from proceeding in forma pauperis when the prisoner repeatedly files meritless
lawsuits. Known as the “three-strikes” rule, the provision states:
In no event shall a prisoner bring a civil action or appeal a judgment
in a civil action or proceeding under [the section governing proceedings in forma pauperis] if the prisoner has, on 3 or more prior
occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an
action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on
the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted, unless the prisoner is under
imminent danger of serious physical injury.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). The statutory restriction “[i]n no event,” found in § 1915(g), is express and
unequivocal. The statute does allow an exception for a prisoner who is “under imminent danger of
serious physical injury.” The Sixth Circuit has upheld the constitutionality of the three-strikes rule
against arguments that it violates equal protection, the right of access to the courts, and due process,
and that it constitutes a bill of attainder and is ex post facto legislation. Wilson v. Yaklich, 148 F.3d
596, 604-06 (6th Cir. 1998); accord Pointer v. Wilkinson, 502 F.3d 369, 377 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing
Wilson, 148 F.3d at 604-06); Rodriguez v. Cook, 169 F.3d 1176, 1178-82 (9th Cir. 1999); Rivera
v. Allin, 144 F.3d 719, 723-26 (11th Cir. 1998); Carson v. Johnson, 112 F.3d 818, 821-22 (5th Cir.
Plaintiff has been an active litigant in the federal courts in Michigan. In more than
three of Plaintiff’s lawsuits, the Court entered dismissals on the grounds that they were frivolous or
failed to state a claim. See Johnson v. Mackie et al., No. 1:17-cv-200 (W.D. Mich. Mar. 31, 2017);
Johnson v. Pandya et al., No. 1:95-cv-604 (W.D. Mich. Nov. 28, 1995); Johnson v. Berrien Sheriff
Dep’t et al., No. 1:95-cv-603 (W.D. Mich. Sept. 5, 1995). Although two of the dismissals were
entered before enactment of the PLRA on April 26, 1996, the dismissals nevertheless count as
strikes. See Wilson, 148 F.3d at 604. Moreover, Plaintiff’s allegations do not fall within the
exception to the three-strikes rule because he does not allege any facts establishing that he is under
imminent danger of serious physical injury.
In light of the foregoing, § 1915(g) prohibits Plaintiff from proceeding in forma
pauperis in this action. Plaintiff has twenty-eight (28) days from the date of entry of this order to
pay the entire civil action filing fee, which is $400.00. When Plaintiff pays his filing fee, the Court
will screen his complaint as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). If Plaintiff
fails to pay the filing fee within the 28-day period, his case will be dismissed without prejudice, but
he will continue to be responsible for payment of the $400.00 filing fee.
Dated: July 11, 2017
/s/ Janet T. Neff
Janet T. Neff
United States District Judge
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399 Federal Building
110 Michigan Street, NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
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