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Young v. Kent County Sheriff's Department

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

December 17, 2019

TRENT YOUNG, Plaintiff,


          Janet T. Neff, United States District Judge

         This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Under Rule 21 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a federal court, acting sua sponte, may at any time consider whether parties are properly joined in an action. “Misjoinder . . . is not a ground for dismissing an action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 21. But, the Court, “on just terms” may drop a party or “sever any claim against a party.” Id.

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996) (PLRA), the Court is required to dismiss any prisoner action brought under federal law if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The Court must read Plaintiff's pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept Plaintiff's allegations as true, unless they are clearly irrational or wholly incredible. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992).

         Applying Rule 21, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's complaint against Defendants Kent County Sheriff's Department, Corizon Health, Bylsma, Barnhardt, Klein, Baarda, Couch, McGinnis, Kalman, Thorne, Steele, LaJoye-Young, Johnson, Carrel, Flentje, Unknown Party #1, Unknown Party #2, Unknown Party #4, Unknown Party #5, Unknown Party #6, Unknown Party #7, Unknown Party #8, because they are improperly joined defendants.

         Applying the PLRA, Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment claim of excessive force against Defendants Jordan and Clark, and of deliberate indifference against Defendants Jordan and Unknown Party #3, may proceed.


         I. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Kinross Correctional Facility (KCF) in Kincheloe, Chippewa County, Michigan. The events about which he complains, however, occurred at the Kent County Jail in Kent County, Michigan. Plaintiff sues the Kent County Sheriff's Department; Corizon Health, Inc.; Deputies Unknown Jordan, [1] Unknown Clark, Unknown Bylsma, Unknown Barnhardt, Unknown Klein, Unknown Baarda, and Unknown Couch; Sergeant Unknown McGinnis; Lieutenant Unknown Kalman, Captain Unknown Thorne; Head of Programs Rob Steele; Undersheriff Unknown Party #1; Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young; Nurses Unknown Party #2, Unknown Party #3, Unknown Party #4, Unknown Party #5, Unknown Party #6, Unknown Party #7, and Unknown Party #8; Head Nurse Penny Johnson; and Doctors Unknown Carrel and Unknown Flentje.

         Plaintiff's 33-paragraph statement of his claim describes multiple events over the span of approximately one month from late February 2019 to late March 2019. Although the Complaint does not specify, the events presumably occurred while Plaintiff was awaiting trial.[2]Plaintiff alleges that on the evening of February 22, 2019, before 7 p.m., he met Nurse Unknown Party #2 in the med-line to receive eye drops and skin cream. (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.8.) Nurse Unknown Party #2 did not have eye drops available, but she did have skin cream and asked Plaintiff if he had his cup, apparently so Plaintiff could receive an allotment. Plaintiff left for an unspecified amount of time to check if he had his cup. Before Plaintiff returned, the nurse and Deputy Jordan had begun moving on without giving Plaintiff skin cream. When Plaintiff inquired why the nurse was leaving, Deputy Jordan responded “You are done! You just want to run around the dayroom.” (Id.) Plaintiff responded, explaining that he needed the skin cream because his dry skin had begun cracking and bleeding. Plaintiff alleges that Deputy Jordan dismissed the inquiry before spraying Plaintiff with pepper spray twice, the second time while Plaintiff “walked off.” (Id.) Afterward, as Plaintiff walked toward his cell wiping the pepper spray from his face, Deputy Clark used his Taser on Plaintiff. While being tased, Plaintiff fell and sustained an open wound to his chin. Plaintiff was then taken to segregation. The complaint is unclear whether Plaintiff was returned to segregation or whether he was taken to segregation as a result of the events that evening. (See id., PageID.9 ¶ 6.)

         The remainder of Plaintiff's Complaint alleges misconduct related to: follow-up medical care (see, e.g., Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.9 ¶ 10); unrelated medical care (see, e.g., id., PageID.10 ¶ 11); Plaintiff's filing of grievances (see, e.g., id., PageID.10 ¶ 15 to PageID.12 ¶ 22); his release and return to segregation (see, e.g., id., PageID.12 ¶¶ 23-25); and his lack of access to the law library and its resources (see, e.g., id., PageID.12 ¶ 26).

         Plaintiff seeks damages in excess of $1 million and injunctive relief.

         II. Misjoinder

         Plaintiff has joined 25 Defendants in this action connecting a series of discrete events during a span of approximately one month in February and March 2019.

         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 multiple defendants Rule 20 operates independently of Rule 18. . . .
Despite the broad language of Rule 18(a), plaintiff may join multiple defendants in a single action only if plaintiff asserts at least one claim to relief against each of them that arises out of the same transaction or occurrence and presents questions of law or fact common to all.

         7 Charles Allen Wright, Arthur R. Miller, Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice & Procedure Civil § 1655 (3d ed. 2001), quoted in Proctor v. Applegate, 661 F.Supp.2d 743, 778 (E.D. Mich. 2009), and Garcia v. Munoz, No. 08-1648, 2007 WL 2064476, at *3 (D.N.J. May 14, 2008); see also Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989) (joinder of defendants is not ...

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