United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
LAMONT HEARD, et. al., Plaintiffs,
RICK SNYDER, et. Al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER SUMMARILY DISMISSING THE
HONORABLE GEORGE CARAM STEEH JUDGE.
a prisoner civil rights case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The
plaintiffs are thirteen Michigan prisoners who were each
convicted of first-degree murder. The plaintiffs challenge
the constitutionality of M.C.L.A. 791.234(6), which precludes
parole eligibility for persons convicted of first-degree
murder, with the exception of defendants who were juveniles
at the time of the offense. Four of the prisoners, including
the lead plaintiff, Lamont Heard, are confined at the Thumb
Correctional Facility in Lapeer, Michigan. Seven prisoners
are confined at the Kinross Correctional Facility in
Kincheloe, Michigan. One prisoner is confined at the Carson
City Correctional Facility in Carson City, Michigan. One
prisoner is confined at the Alger Correctional Facility in
Munising, Michigan. Although all thirteen prisoners have
filed separate applications to proceed in forma
pauperis, all of the applications are deficient because
none include an authorization to withdraw from trust fund
account, a signed certification of the plaintiff's prison
trust account from an authorized jail official, and a current
computerized trust fund account showing the history of the
financial transactions in each of the plaintiff's
institutional trust fund accounts for the past six months.
Court has reviewed the complaint. For the reasons that
follow, the complaint will be dismissed without prejudice to
the plaintiffs filing individual complaints on their behalf.
Court will dismiss the complaint for several reasons.
the applications to proceed in forma pauperis are
deficient because none of the plaintiffs have provided this
Court with a written authorization to withdraw funds from
their prison trust fund accounts. The plaintiffs have also
failed to provide the Court with a certified trust account
statement from their individual prison accounts. None of the
plaintiffs have filed the $ 400.00 filing fee.
Prisoner Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PLRA) states that
“if 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)(as amended). See also In Re Prison Litigation
Reform Act, 105 F.3d 1131, 1138 (6th Cir. 1997).
Although the PLRA does not specify how fees are to be
assessed when multiple prisoners file a joint complaint, the
Sixth Circuit has suggested that fees and costs should be
divided equally in such cases between the plaintiffs.
U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2) requires a prisoner who wishes to
proceed without prepayment of fees and costs in a civil
complaint in federal court to file a certified copy of the
trust fund account statement for that prisoner for the six
month period immediately preceding the filing of the
complaint or notice of appeal, obtained from the appropriate
official of each prison at which the prisoner is or was
confined. See also McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d
601, 605 (6th Cir. 1997).
applications to proceed without prepayment of fees and costs
are deficient because the plaintiffs failed to file an
authorization to withdraw funds. The moment plaintiffs filed
the complaint, they became responsible for the filing fee,
and waived any objection to the withdrawal of funds from
their trust fund accounts to pay court fees and costs.
McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d at 605. The
applications to proceed without prepayment of fees or costs
are deficient and subject to dismissal because they lack the
requisite authorization forms. See Lindsey v. Roman,
408 F. App'x. 530, 533 (3rd Cir. 2010).
also failed to provide the Court with a signed certification
regarding their trust fund accounts. An uncertified trust
fund account statement, or one that lacks a signature, is
insufficient to satisfy the filing requirements for
permitting a prisoner to proceed in forma pauperis
under § 1915(a)(2). See Hart v. Jaukins, 99 F.
App'x. 208, 209-10 (10th Cir. 2004).
plaintiffs failed to provide the Court with a current
computerized trust fund statement of account showing the
history of the financial transactions in their institutional
trust fund accounts for the past six months. The complaint is
thus subject to dismissal because of the plaintiffs'
failure to provide the Court a copy of their computerized
prison trust fund accounts for the past six months. See
Davis v. United States, 73 F. App'x. 804, 805 (6th
additional problem with the complaint is that it appears that
the plaintiffs seek to file a class action suit in this case.
The Court will deny any such request by the plaintiffs to
file a class action because none of these plaintiffs can
adequately protect the interests of the class. Numerous cases
have held that a prisoner proceeding pro se is
inadequate to represent the interests of his or her fellow
inmates in a class action. See Heard v. Caruso, 351
F. App'x. 1, 15 (6th Cir. 2009); Palasty v.
Hawk, 15 F. App'x. 197, 200 (6th Cir. 2001);
Craig v. Cohn, 80 F.Supp.2d 944, 956 (N.D. Ind.
2000); Caputo v. Fauver, 800 F.Supp. 168, 169
(D.N.J. 1992); Avery v. Powell, 695 F.Supp. 632, 643
of the plaintiffs had filed an individual complaint with the
above mentioned deficiencies, this Court would issue an order
for that plaintiff to correct the deficiencies within a
certain period of time. If the plaintiff corrected the
deficiencies, the case would proceed. If the plaintiff did
not correct the deficiencies, the complaint would be
dismissed. The difficulty in this case concerns when, where,
how, and by whom these various deficiencies would or should
be corrected. Also of concern to the Court is the potential
prejudice to the various plaintiffs if there were delays by
some of the other plaintiffs in correcting the deficiencies.
this points to a final problem with the complaint, namely,
whether this Court should allow thirteen different prisoners,
who are incarcerated in four different prisons around the
State of Michigan, to file a joint complaint. The Court is
aware that the joinder of claims, parties, and remedies is
“strongly encouraged” when appropriate to further
judicial economy and fairness. See United Mine Workers of
America v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 724 (1966). Fed.R.Civ.P.
20(a)(1), in fact, indicates: “Persons may join in one
action as plaintiffs if: (A) they assert any right to relief
jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or
arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of
transactions or occurrences; and (B) any question of law or
fact common to all plaintiffs will arise in the
action.” Notwithstanding Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(1), there
are significant practical problems with allowing prisoners
who are incarcerated at different facilities across the State
of Michigan to proceed with the same complaint. As another
judge in this district has noted, there are “pervasive
impracticalities associated with multiple-plaintiff prisoner
litigation, which militates against permissive joinder even
if it were otherwise allowed by Rule 20(a).”
Proctor v. Applegate, 661 F.Supp.2d 743, 780 (E.D.
Mich. 2009)(citing Boretsky v. Corzine, No. 08-2265,
2008 WL 2512916, at * 5 (D.N.J. June 23, 2008)). Several of
the problems that arise from multiple plaintiff prisoner
litigation include the “need for each plaintiff to sign
every pleading, 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.”
Id. (quoting Boretsky, at * 5). Of
particular relevance to the current complaint is the fact
that allowing multiple prisoner-plaintiffs to proceed in a
single action “invites violations of Rule 11(a), which
requires every pleading to be signed by all pro se
plaintiffs.” Proctor, 661 F.Supp.2d at 780
(citing Ghashiyah v. Frank, No. 05-C-0766, 2008 WL
680203, * 1 (E.D.Wis. March 10, 2008). Multiple plaintiff
prisoner cases like these can also often lead to pleadings
being filed on behalf of the other plaintiffs without their
consent. Id. An additional problem with
multi-plaintiff litigation in the prisoner context is that
“jail populations are notably transitory, making joint
litigation difficult.” Id. (quoting
Boretsky, at *5). Other district courts have also
pointed to the “need for resolution of individualized
questions of fact and law surrounding the requirement for
exhaustion of administrative remedies under 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(a).” Proctor, 661 F.Supp.2d at 780
(quoting Boretsky, at *6)(additional citations
omitted). Prisoners are simply “not in the same
situation as non-prisoner joint plaintiffs; prisoners'
circumstances make joint litigation exceptionally
difficult.” Id. (quoting Boretsky, at
Court recognizes that misjoinder of parties is not normally
sufficient to dismiss an action in its entirety, although
misjoined parties can be dismissed from the action by the
Court. See Proctor, 661 F.Supp.2d at 781 (citing
Fed.R.Civ.P. 21)(additional citations omitted). However, in
light of the filing deficiencies in this case, the fact that
the plaintiffs appear to be attempting to file a class action
on behalf of the other plaintiffs, as well as the fact that
the plaintiffs are incarcerated at separate facilities, this
Court believes ...