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Parker v. Unknown Party

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division

May 31, 2018

BRUCE PARKER, Plaintiff,
UNKNOWN PARTY et al., Defendants.



         This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 21, the Court is permitted to drop parties sua sponte when the parties have been misjoined. Pursuant to that rule, the Court will drop as misjoined Defendants Horton, Miller, Brown, Martin, De Stabile, Simpson, Belinger, Canlas, LaPlaunt, and Green, and dismiss Plaintiff's claims against them without prejudice.


         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Chippewa Correctional Facility (URF) in Kincheloe, Chippewa County, Michigan. Plaintiff sues URF Warden Connie Horton, URF Inspectors Unknown Miller and Unknown Brown, URF Sergeants Martin and Belinger, URF Corrections Officers De Stabile, Simpson, and Green; URF Doctor Canlas and URF Health Unit Manager and Registered Nurse Melissa LaPlaunt (herein collectively “the URF Defendants”). Plaintiff also sues an unknown party identified as the Correctional Facilities Administration (CFA) Transfer Coordinator. The events about which he complains with respect to all Defendants, except the CFA Transfer Coordinator, occurred at URF. Plaintiff's claim against the CFA Transfer Coordinator arose while he was placed at the Carson City Correctional Facility (DRF) in Carson City, Michigan.

With respect to the CFA Transfer Coordinator, Plaintiff alleges:
22. On January 1, 2018 Plaintiff mailed a letter to defendant CFA Transfer Coordinator informing him/her of defendant's and officials on a pending lawsuit intentions of retaliating against plaintiff by sending plaintiff to a facility he made them aware of that had previously on his last stay there resulted in plaintiff being bombarded with racial epithets and targeted and finally sexually harassed. Plaintiff explained to defendant CFA Transfer Coordinator that he feared for his life being sent to Chippewa Correctional Facility and prayed that he/she wouldn't allow defendant's at Carson City Correctional Facility to transfer plaintiff to Chippewa Correctional Facility in retaliation of plaintiff refusing to drop or dismiss his pending civil suit against Carson City Officers. Plaintiff begged defendant CFA Transfer Coordinator to not approve the transfer if the request ever came from Carson City Officials.
23. On January 16, 2018 Plaintiff was transferred [sic] from Carson City Correctional Facility to Chippewa Correctional Facility. This transfer was approved by defendant CFA Transfer Coordinator. On this same day in question plaintiff filed a grievance against defendant CFA Transfer Coordinator based on deliberate indifference to plaintiffs health and safety by approving plaintiff's transfer to a facility he/ she knew conditions were objectively cruel and unreasonable. See (Grievance Identifier: URF/2018/01/0208/24C). (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.6-7.) The two paragraphs quoted above are the entirety of Plaintiff's factual allegations against the CFA Transfer Coordinator. Based on those allegations, Plaintiff contends that the CFA Transfer Coordinator was deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of serious harm to Plaintiff in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

         The remainder of Plaintiff's factual allegations relate to the URF Defendants' treatment of Plaintiff upon his arrival at URF. Plaintiff provides a day-by-day account of incidents involving the URF Defendants beginning on the date of Plaintiff's arrival on January 16, 2018, and ending March 14, 2018. (Id., PageID.7-19.) During these incidents, the URF Defendants threatened to retaliate against Plaintiff for filing grievances, hurled racial epithets at him, filed false misconducts against him, destroyed Plaintiff's legal materials and property, physically assaulted Plaintiff, sexually assaulted Plaintiff during shakedowns, failed to provide medical treatment for the resulting injuries, performed inadequate investigations, reached false conclusions regarding Plaintiff's complaints, and refused to provide Plaintiff the documents necessary to pursue grievances and appeals. Plaintiff contends the URF Defendants: (1) retaliated against him for filing grievances in violation of Plaintiff's First Amendment rights; (2) were deliberately indifferent to substantial risks of serious harm to Plaintiff and to Plaintiff's serious medical needs in violation of Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights; and (3) failed to conduct proper hearings and investigations in violation of Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment due process rights. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages from each URF Defendant as well.

         II. Misjoinder

         The joinder of claims, parties, and remedies is “strongly encouraged” when appropriate to further judicial economy and fairness. See United Mine Workers of Am. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 724 (1966). This does not mean, however, that parties should be given free reign to join multiple plaintiffs and multiple defendants into a single lawsuit when the claims are unrelated. See, e.g., Pruden v. SCI Camp Hill, 252 Fed.Appx. 436, 437 (3d Cir. 2007) (per curiam); George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007); Coughlin v. Rogers, 130 F.3d 1248, 1350 (9th Cir. 1997); Proctor v. Applegate, 661 F.Supp.2d 743, 778 (E.D. Mich. 2009) (adopting magistrate judge's report).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20(a) limits the joinder of parties in single lawsuit, whereas Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 18(a) limits the joinder of claims. Rule 20(a)(2) governs when multiple defendants may be joined in one action: “[p]ersons . . . may be joined in one action as defendants if: (A) any right to relief is asserted against them 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 defendants will arise in the action.” Rule 18(a) states: “A party asserting a claim . . . may join, as independent or alternative claims, as many claims as it has against an opposing party.”

Courts have recognized that, where multiple parties are named, as in this case, the analysis under Rule 20 precedes that under Rule 18:
Rule 20 deals solely with joinder of parties and becomes relevant only when there is more than one party on one or both sides of the action. It is not concerned with joinder of claims, which is governed by Rule 18. Therefore, in actions involving ...

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