United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM M. CONLEY DISTRICT JUDGE
proposed civil complaint, pro se plaintiff Reo
Covington contends that prison staff at the Oshkosh and
Racine Correctional Institutions violated his rights under
the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes and state law. He has
also submitted multiple requests for preliminary injunctive
relief (dkts. ##8, 13, and 18), and two motions for
assistance in recruiting counsel. (Dkts. ##2, 9). Having been
granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis and made
an initial partial payment of the filing fee, the next step
would normally be for the court to screen Covington's
complaint as required by 28 U.S.C. §
1915A. The court cannot conduct the required
screening, however, because Covington's amended complaint
violates Rule 20 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
prohibits litigants from bringing unrelated claims against
different defendants in a single action. As explained in more
detail below, Covington's complaint contains at least
three, unrelated claims against different defendants.
Accordingly, Covington must choose which lawsuit he wishes to
pursue as Case No. 16-cv-217.
Covington has made his selection, the court will then screen
that claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The other, unrelated
claims will be dismissed without prejudice to bringing them
in separate lawsuits, provided the applicable statute of
limitations has not expired. As for Covington's other
pending motions, his requests for injunctive relief and for
assistance in recruiting counsel will be denied for the
reasons explained below.
incarcerated at Racine Correctional Institution
("RCI"), Covington alleges that he was given a
program review hearing regarding his placement, program
needs, and eligibility for Wisconsin's Early Release
Program ("ERP"). The program review committee
rejected Covington's request to be enrolled in the ERP on
the ground that his mental illnesses made him ineligible.
Instead, they transferred him to Oshkosh Correctional
Institution ("OCI") to participate in alcohol and
drug abuse programming.
incarcerated at OCI, Covington alleges that he was subjected
to a sexual assault by a prison doctor, harsh conditions of
confinement in observation, denial of adequate treatment for
his mental health needs and violation of his right to
practice his religion.
Civ. P. 20 prohibits a plaintiff from asserting unrelated
claims against different defendants or sets of defendants in
the same lawsuit. Multiple defendants may not be joined in a
single action unless the plaintiff: (1) asserts at least one
claim to relief against each defendant that arises out of the
same transaction or occurrence or series of transactions or
occurrences; and (2) presents questions of law or fact common
to all. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir.
2007). Covington's complaint includes at least three
claims against different sets of defendants, ranging from his
allegations about the program review hearing to sexual
assault to denial of mental healthcare.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 18 allows a party to join unrelated claims
against defendants in a single suit, this rule applies only
after the requirements for joinder of parties have been
satisfied under Rule 20. See Intercon Research Assn.,
Ltd. v. Dresser Ind., Inc., 696 F.2d 53, 57 (7th Cir.
1983). As a result, the core set of allowable defendants must
be determined under Rule 20 before a plaintiff may join
additional unrelated claims against one or more of those same
defendants under Rule 18. Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a).
Rules 18 and 20 to Covington's complaint, his allegations
may be grouped into three possible, separate lawsuits
consisting of the following claims:
Lawsuit #1: Covington's claims that his rights under the
ADA and Rehabilitation Act were violated at RCI when he was