United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
OUATI K. ALI, Plaintiff,
MICHELLE HAESE, SCOTT ECKSTEIN, and MICHAEL DONOVAN, Defendants.
Stadtmueller, U.S. District Judge
December 19, 2016, the Court screened Plaintiff's
original complaint. (Docket #8). The Court found that
Plaintiff failed to state any viable claims for relief but
permitted him to amend his complaint. Id. at 6-7.
Plaintiff submitted an amended complaint on December 29,
2016. (Docket #9). The Court screened the amended complaint,
finding that Plaintiff could proceed on a First Amendment
claim against the prison chaplain, Michael Donovan
(“Donovan”), the social service program director,
Michelle Haese (“Haese”), and the warden, Scott
Eckstein (“Eckstein”) for deprivation of the
right to free exercise of Plaintiff's religion. (Docket
#10). These Defendants allegedly caused or participated in
causing Plaintiff's exclusion from participation in the
2016 Ramadan fast. See Id. at 5-8.
being permitted to proceed, on February 21, 2017, Plaintiff
submitted yet another amended complaint. (Docket #17). As
noted in the first screening order, the Court is required to
screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against
a governmental entity or officer or employee of a
governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court
must dismiss a complaint, or portion thereof, if the prisoner
has raised claims that are “frivolous or malicious,
” that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief. Id. § 1915A(b). All of
the standards cited in the first screening order remain
applicable here. (Docket #8 at 1-3).
allegations in the second amended complaint largely track
those made in the first amended complaint. Compare
(Docket #9), with (Docket #17). Because this is the
Court's third screening order in the short life of this
case thus far, it will for brevity's sake assume
familiarity with its prior screening orders and discuss only
Plaintiff's new allegations. See (Docket #8 and
with respect to his claim that Haese denied him the ability
to participate in the 2016 Ramadan fast, Plaintiff adds a few
new factual details. (Docket #17 ¶¶ 20-24).
Likewise, Plaintiff has included more specific factual
allegations about his free exercise claim against Eckstein.
Id. ¶ 25. The Court has already permitted
Plaintiff to proceed against these defendants on his First
Amendment free exercise claim, and the additional detail
Plaintiff has provided does not require the Court to revisit
that decision. See (Docket #10 at
other new allegations are, however, problematic. He has added
several pages of new claims arising from alleged misconduct
occurring since December 31, 2016. See Id.
¶¶ 28-36. Plaintiff states that he wrote to Haese
on that date with a complaint about rules in his new prison
dorm, which he believed interfered with his daily prayers as
a practicing Muslim. Id. ¶ 28. He claims he was
transferred to this new dorm because Haese was in charge of
his old dorm, suggesting that the prison was trying to avoid
any possibility of the appearance of reprisal for the instant
suit. See Id. Next, on January 6, 2017, Plaintiff
was placed in segregation after he wrote a letter to the
“Muslim Volunteer” at the Green Bay Correctional
Institution. Id. ¶ 29. On January 9, 2017,
Plaintiff received some of his property while in segregation,
but many of his legal papers were missing. Id.
January 13, 2017, Program Supervisor Catherine Francios
(“Francios”) issued Plaintiff a major conduct
report for “soliciting an employee, ” in
violation of Wisconsin Department of Corrections rules.
Id. ¶ 31. He concedes that “[t]he
allegations were partially true, ” but asserts that
“the merits could be contested by documents of
authorization, evidence, and witnesses for the Plaintiff,
during the hearing.” Id. Plaintiff believes he
was denied that evidence however, since he next alleges that
on January 23, 2017, Security Supervisor Brian Bauman
(“Bauman”) denied Plaintiff's request for a
witness to appear at his hearing on the conduct report.
Id. ¶ 32. That same day, Plaintiff had sent
Francios a request for documents and evidence underlying the
conduct report. Id. ¶ 33. She did not respond.
January 26, 2017, Plaintiff requested a postponement of the
hearing since he did not have the documents he requested from
Francios. Id. ¶ 34. The hearing examiner for
the conduct report hearing, Patrick Brant
(“Brant”), denied the request. Id.
¶ 35. Brant found the conduct report was valid, in whole
or in part (Plaintiff does not say), and imposed 30 days of
“disciplinary separation” as a sanction.
on February 16, 2017, Plaintiff alleges that he met with
Lieutenant Faltyski, Program Review Committee Supervisor R.
Mohnen, and Haese. Id. ¶ 36. During the
meeting, Haese told Plaintiff that his medium-custody status
was being revoked as a result of his receiving a major
conduct report. Id. Plaintiff claims Haese had a
conflict of interest during this meeting, presumably because
she is a defendant in the instant suit. See id.
these allegations, Plaintiff re-alleges his claim that he was
denied participation in the 2016 Ramadan fast in violation of
his First Amendment right to the free exercise of his
religion. Id. ¶ 37. He also adds, based on the
new allegations arising since December 31, 2016, a claim for
deprivation of procedural due process, as guaranteed by the
Fourteenth Amendment, in connection with the disciplinary
proceedings arising from the January 13, 2017 conduct report.
Rule of Civil Procedure 18 permits a plaintiff to bring in
one lawsuit every claim he has against a single defendant.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a). However, to join multiple defendants in a
single action, Rule 20 requires that the plaintiff assert at
least one claim against all of them “arising out of the
same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or
occurrences” and that “any question of law or
fact common to all defendants will arise in the
action.” Id. 20(a)(2). Working together, these
two rules mean that “[u]nrelated claims against
different defendants belong in different suits” so as
to prevent prisoners from dodging the fee payment or three
strikes provisions in the Prison Litigation Reform Act.
George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007).
Consequently, “multiple claims against a single party
are fine, but Claim A against Defendant 1 should not be
joined with unrelated Claim B against Defendant 2.”
George, 507 F.3d at 607.
the George rule to this case, the Court cannot allow
any of Plaintiff's new allegations-those arising since
December 31, 2016-to proceed. First, although Haese is named
as a defendant in this case already, he cannot proceed
against her on his vague allegations that she has retaliated
against him for either exercising his First Amendment rights
or by filing this lawsuit. See Woodruff v. Mason,
542 F.3d 545, 551 (7th Cir. 2008) (identifying elements of
First Amendment retaliation claim). He has not even tried to
make such a claim, see (Docket #17 ¶ 37), and
even if he did, the reprisal allegations do not share any
common question of law or fact with the existing free
exercise claim against Haese, Eckstein, and Donovan, which
arose many months prior. Plaintiff might have brought a
retaliation claim against Haese had she been the only
defendant here, but that is not the situation Plaintiff
faces. As a result, these claims cannot proceed within the
context of this litigation.
same reasoning bars the joinder of Plaintiff's claims
relating to the January 13, 2017 conduct report. The relevant
defendants, Francios, Bauman, and Brant, have no connection
whatsoever to the alleged misconduct surrounding the 2016
Ramadan fast. Whatever the merits of his claim for denial of
procedural due process with respect to the conduct report, it
has nothing to do with his First Amendment claim which much
earlier and against different individuals. Consequently,
George requires the dismissal of these defendants
and Plaintiff's procedural due process claim related to
the conduct report.
reiterate: Plaintiff's new allegations in his second
amended complaint relating to alleged misconduct occurring on
or after December 31, 2016, cannot be brought in this
lawsuit. The present action is confined to Plaintiff's
allegations of wrongdoing in connection with the 2016 Ramadan
fast; it is not a forum for him to air every new disagreement
he might have with prison staff. For the reasons stated above
and in the Court's prior screening orders, the Court
again concludes that Plaintiff will be permitted to proceed