Villagrana v. Loving et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER: Abel Alejandro Villagrana, an inmate of the DeBerry Special Needs Facility in Nashville, Tennessee, has filed a pro se civil complaint and an application to proceed in district court without prepaying fees and costs ( "IFP application"). (Doc. Nos. 1 , 2 ). Plaintiff has failed to establish his inability to pay the filing fee as required by Section 1915(a), and his IFP application (Doc. No. 2 ) is therefore DENIED. If he desires to maintain this ac tion, Plaintiff must pay the full $402 filing fee within 30 DAYS of the entry of this Order. Plaintiff MUST file an amended complaint that does not join unrelated claims against unrelated parties. The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to provide Plai ntiff with a blank form for filing a Section 1983 complaint. To proceed with his lawsuit, in addition to paying the $402 filing fee in full, Plaintiff MUST file an amended complaint on the form provided by the Clerk. Signed by Chief Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr on 11/17/2021. (xc:Pro se party by regular mail along with a blank Section 1983 Complaint.) (DOCKET TEXT SUMMARY ONLY-ATTORNEYS MUST OPEN THE PDF AND READ THE ORDER.)(mg)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
ABEL ALEJANDRO VILLAGRANA,
KIMISHA LOVING, et al.,
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Abel Alejandro Villagrana, an inmate of the DeBerry Special Needs Facility in Nashville,
Tennessee, has filed a pro se civil complaint and an application to proceed in district court without
prepaying fees and costs (“IFP application”). (Doc. Nos. 1, 2).
I. FILING FEE
An indigent prisoner may be granted permission to pay the $402 civil filing fee in
installments over time via an assessment against the prisoner’s trust account, rather than in a lump
sum at the time of filing, if the prisoner submits a properly supported IFP application establishing
that he “is unable to pay such fees or give security therefor.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) and (b). While
Plaintiff’s IFP application includes his declaration that he is “unable to pay the costs of these
proceedings,” it also reveals that he earns $20 per month, has received additional income in the
form of gifts or inheritances, and that he currently has $1,357.86 available in cash or on account.
(Doc. No. 2 at 1–2). Accordingly, Plaintiff has failed to establish his inability to pay the filing fee
as required by Section 1915(a), and his IFP application (Doc. No. 2) is therefore DENIED. If he
desires to maintain this action, Plaintiff must pay the full $402 filing fee within 30 DAYS of the
entry of this Order.
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II. JOINDER OF CLAIMS AND PARTIES
A cursory review of the complaint reveals that Plaintiff has joined unrelated claims against
unrelated parties in a single action. He sues fifteen individuals (including correctional officers and
healthcare providers) and the City of Nashville, variously alleging their misconduct (dating back
to 2018) in the form of unlawful restraint; denial of food trays, medications, drinking water, soap
and toiletries; failure to treat his medical problems; failure to respond to his complaints; restricting
his ability to shower; turning off the water supply to his sink and toilet; and threatening him with
violence. (See Doc. No. 1 at 17–23).
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permit the joinder in a single complaint of all claims
against a single opposing party, and they permit the joinder of all defendants alleged to be liable
for “the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences” where “any
question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 18(a)
and 20(a)(2). But they do not permit the conglomeration of unrelated claims against unrelated
defendants in a single lawsuit. See Proctor v. Applegate, 661 F. Supp. 2d 743, 780 (E.D. Mich.
2009) (“[P]laintiffs, especially prisoners, do not have free reign to join multiple claims and
defendants in any manner they choose. . . . And, Rule 20 does not authorize a plaintiff to
‘incorporate into an existing action a different action against different parties and presenting
entirely different factual and legal issues.’” (quoting Trail Realty Inc. v. Beckett, 462 F.2d 396,
399–400 (10th Cir. 1972))). In addition to making a lawsuit unwieldy, allowing such an approach
to litigation by prisoners would undermine the deterrence intended by the PLRA by allowing
prisoner-plaintiffs to minimize their exposure to filing fees and “strikes” imposed pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(g). See Jackson v. Swab, No. 1:17-CV-965, 2018 WL 521457, at *2 (W.D. Mich.
Jan. 23, 2018) (holding that “prisoners should not be allowed to proceed with multiple-plaintiff
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litigation in order to circumvent the filing fee requirements for federal civil actions or the [PLRA’s]
‘three strikes’ provision”).
III. FURTHER ACTION
Rule 21 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that misjoinder is not a ground
for dismissing an action. Nevertheless, the complaint cannot be allowed to proceed in its current
form. Accordingly, Plaintiff MUST file an amended complaint that does not join unrelated claims
against unrelated parties. In other words, Plaintiff can assert any claims he has against a single
defendant, or he can assert all the claims he has against multiple defendants that arise from the
same incident or series of related incidents. If Plaintiff wishes to pursue other claims or defendants
outside that limited scope of his amended complaint, he is free to do so by filing separate lawsuits.
The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to provide Plaintiff with a blank form for filing a
Section 1983 complaint. To proceed with his lawsuit, in addition to paying the $402 filing fee in
full, Plaintiff MUST file an amended complaint on the form provided by the Clerk. The amended
complaint must include the docket number assigned to this case: No. 3:21-cv-00836.
Plaintiff is warned that his failure to comply with this Order within the time provided, or
to file a timely motion for extension of time to do so, will result in appropriate action by the Court,
including dismissal of the action without prejudice if he fails to pay the filing fee, or the sua sponte
dropping of parties or severing of claims pursuant to Rule 21 if he fails to file an amended
IT IS SO ORDERED.
WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR.
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Case 3:21-cv-00836 Document 5 Filed 11/17/21 Page 3 of 3 PageID #: 33
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