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Tatum v. Wall

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

June 14, 2016

ROBERT L. TATUM, Plaintiff,
v.
EDWARD WALL, et al., Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          HON. RUDOLPH T. RANDA U.S. District Judge.

         The plaintiff has filed a motion for reconsideration of the Court's May 5, 2016, Order screening his complaint. (ECF No. 16.) He contends that the Court erred because, (1) the Court lacks jurisdiction over this action since the plaintiff consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 636; (2) the Court erroneously determined that the plaintiff's complaint allegations were implausible; (3) the Court directed the plaintiff to file an amended complaint and stated that if he failed to file an amended complaint the case might be dismissed for failure to prosecute; and (4) the Court denied class certification based on the plaintiff's pro se status.

         Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) allows any order adjudicating fewer than all the claims to be revised at any time before the entry of judgment adjudicating all the claims and the rights and liabilities of all the parties. Motions to reconsider (or more formally, to revise) an order under Rule 54(b) are judged by largely the same standards as motions to alter or amend a judgment under Rule 59(e): "to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Rothwell Cotton Co. v. Rosenthal & Co., 827 F.2d 246, 251 (7th Cir. 1987) (quoting Keene Corp. v. Int'l Fid. Ins. Co., 561 F.Supp. 656, 665-66 (N.D.Ill. 1982), aff'd, 736 F.2d 388 (7th Cir. 1984) (citation and footnote omitted)), amended by, 835 F.2d 710 (7th Cir.1987); compare Moro v. Shell Oil Co., 91 F.3d 872, 876 (7th Cir. 1996) (providing nearly identical standard for motion under Rule 59(e)).

         Discussion

         On May 5, 2016, the Court issued an order screening the plaintiff's class action complaint. (ECF No. 14.) The Court declined to certify a class because the plaintiff is proceeding pro se. (ECF No. 14 at 7.) Next, the Court determined that the plaintiff could not proceed on his claim against the 41 defendants alleging the Wisconsin Department of Corrections' custom of a "Blue Code of Silence" was the moving force behind his allegations because the plaintiff's conspiracy claim was implausible. (Id. at 8.) Lastly, the Court found that the plaintiff's complaint against the 41 defendants violated Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 18 and 20 insofar as it advanced unrelated claims against unrelated defendants. (Id. at 10.) The Court directed the plaintiff to file an amended complaint incorporating only properly related claims if he wanted to proceed and advised the plaintiff that failure to file an amended complaint might result in dismissal of the case for failure to prosecute.

         A. Magistrate Judge Jurisdiction

         First, the plaintiff takes issue with the fact that this case was not transferred to a magistrate judge after he consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction. In the Eastern District of Wisconsin, magistrate judges "are designated to exercise the jurisdiction and authority provided by 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), when all parties consent to it[.]" Gen. L.R. 73 (E.D. Wis.) (emphasis added). At this time, only the plaintiff has consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction. Thus, transfer to a magistrate judge would be premature.

         B. Class Action

         The Court denied class action status because the plaintiff is pro se. It would be improper for the Court to certify a case where the class representative is pro se. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(4); Howard v. Pollard, 814 F.3d 476, 478 (7th Cir. 2015). The plaintiff has not shown that the Court erred by declining to consider the other Rule 23(a) factors.

         C. Plausibility of Plaintiff's Complaint

         In screening the complaint, the Court determined that the plaintiff's claim that the Wisconsin Department of Corrections' custom of a Blue Code of Silence is the moving force behind his allegations was implausible.

According to Tatum, individually and as a part of the policy of the Blue Code of Silence, he has been subjected to multiple violations of his rights. The Blue Code of Silence allegedly uses various tactics to reinforce its policies, such as ensuring that the Inmate Complaint Review System is a sham, obstructing the plaintiffs' access to attorneys and to the courts, and lying in official reports. The perpetuation of the Blue Code of Silence has allegedly resulted in constitutional violations, such as: denial of due process; denial of access to the courts; excessive force, unnecessary strip searches and sexual assault; retaliation; unlawful conditions of confinement in observation status; forced medical intervention and force-feeding; unlawful in-cell cameras; assault/battery/distress; unlawful conditions of confinement related to unfair and unnecessary security precautions; and denial of equal protection.
It appears that the plaintiff attempts to join all 41 defendants and multiple claims together in one action under the Wisconsin Department of Corrections' Blue Code of Silence because all ...

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