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Jackson v. Hepp

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

September 27, 2016

SYLVESTER JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
RANDALL HEPP, JUDY SMITH, DEBRA BOYD, RICK RAEMISCH, GARY HAMBLIN, M. OLSEN, P. SCHULZ, TAMMY MAASSEN, CAPT. COOK, CAPT. FOSTER, CAPT. JENSEN, LT. LACOST, SGT. GARCIA, SGT. GEROGE, DGT. GILLET, C/O LEE, T. MARCO, C/O OLSON, C/O PETKOVSEK, C/O BIDDLE, DEBRA TIDQUIST, KENNETH ADLER, GEORGIA KOSTOHRYZ, MS. DOUGHERTY, MR. FLIEGER, Defendants.

          ORDER

          BARBARA B. CRABB, District Judge

         Pro se plaintiff Sylvester Jackson is suing a variety of prison officials about a variety of matters that occurred between 2010 and 2013 at the Jackson Correctional Institution in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. Plaintiff has paid the filing fee in full, but because he is a prisoner, I must screen his complaint in accordance with 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A. Having done so, I conclude that I cannot allow him to proceed on any claims at this time because his complaint includes too many unrelated claims against different defendants. I will give plaintiff an opportunity to choose which claims he wishes to pursue in this case, which claims he wants to pursue in a different case and which claims he wishes to dismiss without prejudice to refiling them at a later date.

         Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 20, Fed.R.Civ.P. 21 and a court's inherent authority, a lawsuit may be severed when it includes unrelated claims against different defendants. Lee v. Cook County, Illinois, 635 F.3d 969, 971 (7th Cir. 2011); In re High Fructose Corn Syrup Antitrust Litigation, 361 F.3d 439, 441 (7th Cir. 2004); Aiello v. Kingston, 947 F.2d 834, 835 (7th Cir. 1991). As the Court of the Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has stated, “[a] litigant cannot throw all of his grievances, against dozens of different parties, into one stewpot.” Wheeler v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., 689 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2012). Lawsuits with so many unrelated claims are both unfair to defendants (who must participate in many proceedings that have little to do with them) and difficult to manage for the court and the plaintiff (who may find it impossible to litigate so many claims at the same time, with or without a lawyer). Owens v. Hinsley, 635 F.3d 950, 952 (7th Cir. 2011) (“[U]nrelated claims against different defendants belong in separate lawsuits . . . to prevent the sort of morass produced by multi-claim, multi-defendants suits.”) (internal quotations omitted). Thus, when a plaintiff tries to cram too much into one case, the court may require the plaintiff "to file separate complaints, each confined to one group of injuries and defendants." Wheeler, 689 F.3d at 683.

         A review of plaintiff's complaint reveals that it includes at least a dozen separate lawsuits, which are identified below:

Lawsuit #1:
• Sometime after October 13, 2010, defendant Garcia “ignor[ed]” plaintiff when he complained about a “serious medical need, ” Cpt. ¶ 31, dkt. #1;
• sometime after October 13, 2010, defendant Garcia “began harassing” plaintiff after plaintiff complained that Garcia was racist, id. at ¶ 32;
• around October 15, 2010, defendant Garcia gave plaintiff a conduct report for using the microwave because plaintiff had complained about Garcia's racist behavior, id. at ¶ 33; defendants Schulz and Jensen observed the incident but did not intervene, ¶ 34;
• defendant Foster refused to allow plaintiff to call witnesses during the disciplinary hearing, id. at ¶ 38;
• defendant Foster found plaintiff guilty of the conduct report, even though Foster knew that plaintiff had done nothing wrong, id. at ¶ 37;
• defendant Foster gave plaintiff harsher discipline than a white prisoner who had been accused of similar conduct, id. at ¶ 38;
• after plaintiff was released from segregation, defendants Foster and Garcia transferred plaintiff to a different unit so that plaintiff would lose his job, id. at ¶ 39;
• when plaintiff complained to defendants Hepp and Boyd about Foster's and Garcia's conduct, Hepp and Boyd refused to do anything, id. at ¶¶ 40-42.
Lawsuit #2
• On February 14, 2011, defendant Flieger refused to photocopy legal documents for plaintiff because they were related to a lawsuit against the warden, id. at ¶¶ 43-45;
• after hearing about the lawsuit, defendant Hepp directed defendant Jensen to search plaintiff's cell, confiscate his complaint and give plaintiff a false conduct report, id. at ¶¶ 46, 73-74;
• when plaintiff complained to defendant Cook, Cook said that “it could have been worse, ...

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