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Blevins v. Michigan Department of Corrections

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

March 25, 2019

SCOTT BLEVINS #243981, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.

          Hon. Robert J. Jonker U.S. District Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MAARTEN VERMAAT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This is a civil rights action brought by state prisoner Scott Blevins pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is currently housed at the Oaks Correctional Facility. The events about which he complains occurred while he was housed at the Alger Correctional Facility (LMF). The remaining Defendants Joseph Naeyaert, K. Mattson, Unknown Kurth, and Unknown Cobb filed a motion to dismiss this case based upon repetitiveness with Blevins v. Naeyaert, No. 2:17-cv-185. (ECF No. 13.) Plaintiff has not filed a response. This Court recommends that the actions in Nos. 2:17-cv-00170 and 2:17-cv-00185 be consolidated.

         Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff asserts nearly identical allegations in No. 2:17-cv-185. Plaintiff alleges that he is transgender and has been forced to prostitute himself for gang members at LMF. Plaintiff alleges that in August of 2017, he was told by his prospective cell mate, inmate Flores, not to lock with him because Flores did not want to share a cell with a transgender inmate. Inmate Flores threatened Plaintiff with assault. While Plaintiff was in the “small yard” he was threatened with harm by Latin King Brother members who told him to move out of inmate Flores' cell. Plaintiff asserts that Defendants Naeyaert, Mattson, Kurth, and Cobb failed to protect him from threats of harm and ridiculed him.

         Defendants placed Plaintiff on suicide watch and moved him out of his cell. According to Plaintiff, Defendants failed to believe that Plaintiff was under a serious threat of harm. Plaintiff was told that he would be released back to a different cell. Defendants told Plaintiff to return to his cell. Plaintiff refused to house with inmate Flores due to threats of harm and being forced to prostitute himself. Plaintiff asserts that Defendants failed to intervene in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights.

         Legal Standard

         A court has the inherent authority to dismiss a plaintiff's subsequent repetitious cause of action as frivolous in order to maintain the Court docket and to promote judicial order. Cummings v. Mason, No. 1:11-cv-649, 2011 WL 2745937 (W.D. Mich. July 13, 2011). This Court explained:

Plaintiffs generally have “no right to maintain two separate actions involving the same subject matter at the same time in the same court and against the same defendants.” Walton v. Eaton Corp., 563 F.2d 66, 70 (3d Cir. 1977). Accordingly, as part of its inherent power to administer its docket, a district court may dismiss a suit that is duplicative of another federal court suit. See Colo. River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States, 424 U.S. 800, 817 (1976); Adams v. Cal. Dep't of Health Serv., 487 F.3d 684, 688 (9th Cir. 2007); Missouri v. Prudential Health Care Plan, Inc., 259 F.3d 949, 953-54 (8th Cir. 2001); Curtis v. Citibank, N.A., 226 F.3d 133, 138-39 (2d Cir. 2000); Smith v. SEC, 129 F.3d 356, 361 (6th Cir. 1997). The power to dismiss a duplicative lawsuit is meant to foster judicial economy and the “comprehensive disposition of litigation, ” Kerotest Mfg. Co. v. C-O-Two Fire Equip. Co., 342 U.S. 180, 183 (1952), and protect parties from “the vexation of concurrent litigation over the same subject matter.” Adam v. Jacobs, 950 F.2d 89, 93 (2d Cir. 1991). In addition, courts have held that an in forma pauperis complaint that merely repeats pending or previously litigated claims may be dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(i) as frivolous or malicious. See, e.g. McWilliams v. State of Colorado, 121 F.3d 573, 574 (10th Cir. 1997) (holding that repetitious litigation of virtually identical causes of action may be dismissed under the in forma pauperis statute as frivolous or malicious); Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1105 n.2 (9th Cir. 1995) (noting that an action may be dismissed as frivolous under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 when the complaint “merely repeats pending or previously litigated claims); Pittman v. Moore, 980 F.2d 994, 994-95 (5th Cir. 1993) (finding that it is “malicious” for a pauper to file a lawsuit that duplicates allegations of another pending federal lawsuit by the same plaintiff).
A complaint is duplicative and subject to dismissal if the claims, parties and available relief do not significantly differ from an earlier-filed action. See Serlin v. Arthur Andersen & Co., 3 F.3d 221, 223 (7th Cir. 1993). Although complaints may not “significantly differ, ” they need not be identical. Courts focus on the substance of the complaint. See, e.g. Bailey v. Johnson, 846 F.2d 1019, 1021 (5th Cir. 1988) (holding that a complaint was duplicative although different defendants were named because it “repeat[ed] the same factual allegations” asserted in the earlier case). Given the similarities between the parties, legal claims, factual allegations, temporal circumstances and relief sought, in the present complaint and the complaint in Cummings v. Ventocilla, No. 1:11-cv-365, the present complaint must be considered duplicative. The complaint therefore is frivolous.

Id. at *1-2.

         Discussion

         I. Blevins v. Michigan Department of Corrections, No. 2:17-cv-170

          Plaintiff filed his complaint in this case on October 5, 2017. On March 13, 2017, the Court ordered Plaintiff to file an amended complaint. Plaintiff's amended complaint names Defendants Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), Joseph Naeyaert, K. Mattson, Unknown Kurth, Unknown Cobb, Bill Schuette, Catherine Bauman, Heidi E. Washington, and unknown parties. On June 12, 2018, the Court issued an opinion on initial review of the amended complaint, which ordered ...


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