United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
L. Maloney, United States District Judge.
a civil rights action brought by a person detained in the
Chippewa County Jail under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 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. 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 these
standards, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's complaint
for failure to state a claim.
is presently detained in the Chippewa County Jail. Plaintiff
is suing the law enforcement officer, Defendant McLeod, who
participated in procuring a search warrant issued by
Defendant Blubaugh. Plaintiff contends that the warrant
played a role in his wrongful arrest and wrongful detention.
lawsuit is entirely duplicative of a lawsuit Plaintiff filed
against these same Defendants on June 3, 2019. Raab v.
McLeod et al., No. 2:19-cv-108 (W.D. Mich.)
(“Raab I”). Plaintiff attempts to
distinguish the two complaints by noting that, in Raab
I, he sued the two Defendants in their official
capacities, and in this suit, he sues them in their personal
Raab I, Plaintiff indicated he was suing the
Defendants in their official capacities; however, because
those claims necessarily failed, the Court construed
Plaintiff's allegations liberally and considered
Plaintiff's allegations as if he was suing the Defendants
in their respective personal capacities. Plaintiff's
claim against Defendant Blubaugh in his official capacity was
a claim against the State of Michigan. The Michigan courts
operate as arms of the state and are entitled to the same
sovereign immunity as the State of Michigan. Pucci v.
Nineteenth Dist. Ct., 628 F.3d 752, 762-64 (6th Cir.
2010). Plaintiff sought only damages in his official capacity
claim against Defendant Blubaugh; therefore, his official
capacity claim was barred by sovereign immunity.
official capacity claim against Defendant McLeod fared no
better. Defendant McLeod acted on behalf of the Chippewa
County, Mackinac County, and Luce County Sheriff's
Department in obtaining the warrant. A claim against McLeod
in his official capacity was a claim against those
municipalities. Municipalities do not enjoy sovereign
immunity from civil rights claims; however, they are liable
only to the extent a municipal policy or custom caused the
injury. Los Angeles Cty. v. Humphries, 562 U.S. 29,
35-37 (2010) (citing Monell v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978)). Accordingly,
Plaintiff was required to identify the policy, connect the
policy to the governmental entity and show that the
particular injury was incurred because of the execution of
that policy. Turner v. City of Taylor, 412 F.3d 629,
639 (6th Cir. 2005); Alkire v. Irving, 330 F.3d 802,
815 (6th Cir. 2003). Plaintiff never identified any policy or
custom. His claim simply alleged that Defendant McLeod,
acting individually, committed the allegedly wrongful acts.
considering Plaintiff's claims in Raab I, the
Court also considered them as claims against the Defendants
personally. The Court dismissed Plaintiff's personal
capacity claim against Defendant Blubaugh because Blubaugh
was entitled to absolute jurisdictional immunity. The Court
stayed Plaintiff's personal capacity claim against
Defendant McLeod under the abstention doctrine of Younger
v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 44-45 (1971). Accordingly,
Plaintiff's present complaint adds literally nothing to
his prior suit.
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. California 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).
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., Belser v.
Washington, No. 16-2634, 2017 WL 5664908, at *2 (6th
Cir. Sept. 13, 2017) (“A duplicative action is also
subject to dismissal for frivolity under § 1915(e) . . .
.”); McWilliams v. 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); Bailey v. Johnson, 846 F.2d
1019, 1021 (5th Cir. 1988) (holding that it was appropriate
to dismiss an in forma pauperis civil rights suit by
prison inmate where suit was duplicative of facts and
allegations made in previously dismissed suit, and merely
named a different defendant whose actions formed a partial
basis for the previous suit); Risley v. Hawk, 918
F.Supp. 18, 22 (D.D.C. 1996) (holding that the district court
may dismiss an in forma pauperis action where the
complaint duplicates the allegations of other pending or
previously filed litigation, even where the previously filed
actions were filed in different districts); Hahn v.
Tarnow, No. 06-cv-12814, 2006 WL 2160934, at *3 (E.D.
Mich. July 31, 2006).
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, 846 F.2d at 1021 (holding that a complaint was
duplicative although different defendants were named because
it “repeat[ed] the same factual allegations”
asserted in the earlier case). Here, the complaint is
identical. This sort of conduct unnecessarily multiplies
proceedings and wastes judicial resources.
the Court concludes that the present complaint is
duplicative. Therefore, pursuant to the Court's inherent
power and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(i), the complaint will
be dismissed on the grounds that it is duplicative and
conducted the review required by the Prison Litigation Reform
Act, the Court determines that Plaintiff's complaint will
be dismissed for failure to state a claim, under 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). The Court must next
decide whether an appeal of this action would be in good
faith within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3).
See McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 611 (6th