Vassar v. Steele et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Clerk shall STRIKE plaintiffs Perry, Mohammad, Fields, and Vassar from this action. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall open new cases for plaintiffs Perry, Mohammad, Fields, and Vassar, utilizing the complaint in the above-captioned case.. Signed by District Judge John A. Ross on 3/6/14. (LGK) .
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
BARRY BAKER, et al.,
TROY STEELE, et al.,
No. 4:14CV333 JAR
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court upon its own motion. This action was filed
jointly by five prisoners. Multiple prisoners may not join together in a single
lawsuit under Rule 20 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Georgeoff v. Barnes,
2:09CV14 ERW, 2009 WL 1405497 (E.D. Mo. 2009); Jones v. Abby, 2009 WL
2169894 (E.D. Mo. 2009). As a result, the Court will strike four of the plaintiffs
from this case and order the Clerk to open new cases for each of these plaintiffs.
The Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (APLRA@) requires that Aif a
prisoner brings a civil action or files an appeal in forma pauperis, the prisoner shall
be required to pay the full amount of a filing fee.@
28 U.S.C. ' 1915(b)(1).
Prisoners proceeding in forma pauperis may pay the fee in installments. 28 U.S.C.
' 1915(b). Implementation of the PLRA was designed to make prisoners feel the
deterrent effect of the filing fee. See e.g., Hampton v. Hobbs, 106 F.3d 1281, 1286
(6th Cir. 1997). Each individual plaintiff must feel the financial effect of filing a
suit in federal court. See id.; 28 U.S.C. ' 1915(b). As a result, each plaintiff must
pay the full filing fee of $350.
AMultiple filing fees cannot be collected for one case filed by multiple
plaintiffs, thus the PLRA=s requirement that a prisoner pay the full fee for filing a
lawsuit would be circumvented in a multiple plaintiff case subject to the PLRA.@
Lilly v. Ozmint, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49153 *4, 2007 WL 2021874 *1 (D.S.C.
July 6, 2007) (slip copy); see 28 U.S.C. ' 1914 (filing fee statute). The requirement
of ' 1915(b)(1) that each Aprisoner shall be required to pay the full amount of a filing
fee@ requires individual prisoners to bring separate suits, rather than file jointly
under Rule 20. Hubbard v. Haley, 262 F.3d 1194 (11th Cir. 2001), cert. denied, 534
U.S. 1136, 122 S. Ct. 1083, 151 L. Ed. 2d 983 (2002).
In addition, Athe impracticalities inherent in multiple-prisoner litigation
militate against the permissive joinder allowed by Rule 20.@ Hagwood v. Warden,
2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13108 *5, 2009 WL 427396 *2 (D.N.J. Feb. 19, 2009) (slip
copy) (citing Wasko v. Allen County Jail, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22907, 2006 WL
978956 (N.D. Ind. 2006); Swenson v. MacDonald, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5784,
2007 WL 240233 *2-4 (D. Mont. Jan. 30, 2006) (slip copy).
Among the difficulties noted by these courts are the need for each
plaintiff to sign the pleadings, and the consequent possibilities that
documents may be changed as they are circulated or that prisoners may
seek to compel prison authorities to permit them to gather to discuss the
joint litigation. [Other] courts have also noted that jail populations are
notably transitory, making joint litigation difficult. A final
consideration for [one court] was the possibility that Acoercion, subtle
or not, frequently plays a role in relations between inmates.@
Hagwood, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13108 at *6; 2009 WL 427396 at *2.
Finally, joinder of prisoners= claims under Rule 20 would allow prisoners to
avoid the risk of incurring strikes under ' 1915(g) so long as one of those prisoners=
claims is viable, because ' 1915(g) imposes a strike only if the entire action is
dismissed. Prisoners should not be allowed to circumvent the penalties associated
with filing frivolous actions by joining claims under Rule 20.
For these reasons, the Court will not allow plaintiffs to proceed jointly in this
Because plaintiff Baker is the lead plaintiff in this case, the Court will strike
plaintiffs Perry, Mohammad, Fields, and Vassar from this action. The Court will
order the Clerk to open separate cases for plaintiffs Perry, Mohammad, Fields, and
Vassar, utilizing the complaint in the above-captioned case.
Nothing in this Memorandum and Order should be construed as precluding
any or all of the plaintiffs from cooperating to the extent that they are able or as
preventing consolidation of these cases for trial if that becomes appropriate at a later
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Clerk shall STRIKE plaintiffs Perry,
Mohammad, Fields, and Vassar from this action.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall open new cases for
plaintiffs Perry, Mohammad, Fields, and Vassar, utilizing the complaint in the
Dated this 6th day of March, 2014.
JOHN A. ROSS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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