United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
CARL C. GILBERT, II and JERRED WASHINGTON, Plaintiffs,
STATE OF WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES, SAND RIDGE SECURE TREATMENT CENTER, ERIC KNAUTSON, DEBORAH MCCULLOUCH, DOUG BELILLE, JASON SMITH, PAULA GILE, ANGIE WESTER, GARY FOX, KIETH RAMSEY, LORI FOX, DANIEL KATTENBRAKER, KEITH NESS, LINDA HARRIS, ROBERT KEEPKINS, VALERIE LITTY, KIM THOMSURE, MARCUS HUBBARD, SCOTT WALKER, and JOHN AND JANE DOES 1-80, Defendants.
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON District Judge.
Carl C. Gilbert II and Jerred Washington, both patients
civilly committed at the Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center
under Wisconsin's sexually violent persons law, Wis.Stat.
ch. 980, bring this civil complaint under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 alleging that that Sand Ridge staff members have
violated their constitutional rights in several ways.
has filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. Washington has not, but I will assume that
they both seek leave to proceed in forma pauperis
with this case rather than prepay the $400 filing fee they
would jointly owe if they do not qualify for in forma
pauperis status. Because plaintiffs have trust fund
accounts similar to those used by Wisconsin prisoners, it is
this court's practice to have chapter 980 patients submit
six months' worth of trust fund account data so that the
court may calculate an initial partial payment of the filing
fee. After Gilbert submitted letters stating that he does not
have the funds to obtain copies of his trust account
statement, the court concluded that Gilbert likely had no
means by which to prepay the filing fee or make an initial
has not submitted anything about his financial status, even
after being prompted by the court, which not only makes it
impossible to tell whether he should be granted in forma
pauperis status, but also calls into question whether he
wishes to continue litigating this case. I will give
Washington a short time to submit a trust fund account
statement or explain why he is unable to do so.
plaintiffs proceed with a case in forma pauperis,
the court must screen the complaint and dismiss any portion
that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages
from a defendant who by law cannot be sued for money damages.
28 U.S.C. § 1915. I would normally wait until
plaintiffs' financial status is cleared up before
screening the complaint. But because plaintiffs'
complaint suffers from major problems, I will not wait for
Washington's response before screening it.
complaint suffers from problems similar to those in
Gilbert's recent two cases in this court, case nos.
14-cv-427-jdp and 14-cv-466-jdp. Chief among these problems
is that plaintiffs attempt to jam into the same lawsuit
seemingly unrelated claims against far too many defendants.
They include 17 named individuals and somewhere between 80
and 200 unidentified “John Doe”
Rule of Civil Procedure 20 prohibits plaintiffs 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 plaintiffs assert
at least one claim of relief against each defendant that
arises out of the same transaction or occurrence or series of
transactions or occurrences and presents questions of law or
fact common to all. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605,
607 (7th Cir. 2007). From plaintiffs' current
allegations, I conclude that plaintiffs bring claims that
likely belong in four different lawsuits.
• Lawsuit No. 1: Medical staff fails to properly treat
Gilbert's chronic knee problems.
• Lawsuit No. 2: Facility officials prohibit
“African-American music, movies, ” and other
media, as well as media containing nudity or semi-nudity, and
when plaintiffs complained about it, officials retaliated
against them by giving them conduct reports, holding
disciplinary hearings without due process, and placing them
• Lawsuit No. 3: Officials give African American
patients lower paying jobs and worse programming, and price
gouge plaintiffs on commissary items.
• Lawsuit No. 4: Officials falsify conduct reports,
medical records, and other documents to keep plaintiffs
confined as Chapter 980 patients.
attempt to tie together all of their claims by stating that
“every claim in this complaint was and still is
continually being done in bad faith by the defendants, with
deliberate, intentional and callous racial motivations,
retaliation, harassment.” Dkt. 1, at 5. This type of
vague allegation is not sufficient to combine plaintiffs'
multiple lawsuits into one. See Wine v. Thurmer, No.
08-cv-72-bbc, 2008 WL 1777264, *6 (W.D. Wis. Apr. 16, 2008)
(“A suit stuffed with allegations that the plaintiff
has been subjected to a variety of constitutional violations
without some hint of a basis for plaintiff's belief that
a genuine conspiracy exists will not suffice to satisfy the
requirements of Rule 20.”).
may not proceed with all of these claims within this
particular lawsuit. I will give them a short time to respond
to this order by explaining which of the four potential
lawsuits they wish to pursue under this case number, and
whether they wish to pursue any of the remaining three
lawsuits under new case numbers. If they choose to proceed
with more than one lawsuit, they will owe more than one
filing fee and more than one initial partial payment of the
filing fee. Those payments will be figured out after
plaintiffs respond with their financial information and their
choice about which of the above-numbered lawsuits they wish
to keep litigating. Once plaintiffs have made their choice, I
will screen the individual complaints; further amendment
under Rule 8 may be necessary at that time. When plaintiffs
respond, they will both have to respond. Neither pro
se plaintiff may represent the other; they must both sign
their response explaining how they wish to proceed.
has filed two other related motions, both of which I will
deny. He states that facility staff is hindering him from
filing documents because they have put onerous restrictions
on his legal loans, and he asks for recruitment of counsel
because of these ...