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Nelson v. Gegare

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

March 5, 2019

DAVID DARNELL NELSON, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
CAPTAIN GEGARE, SECURITY DIRECTOR MILLER, WARDEN MALONE, DEPUTY WARDEN ROMAN, DR. McLAIN McCLAIN, AGENT AMY LAMPONE, SUPERVISOR THOMAS SALTER, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER POWLEDGE, C.O. MILLER, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER FLEMING, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER McWILLIAM, SUPERVISOR ACKERAN, P.S. U.SUPERVISOR DR. ABRAMS, HEALTH SERVICE MANAGER TUNELL, SGT. MORALES, and SUPERVISOR DOLLOR, Defendants.[1]

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pro se plaintiff and prisoner David Darnell Nelson, Jr. has filed an amended complaint as instructed by the court. Dkt. 20. An amended complaint was necessary because Nelson had filed more than 10 separate documents relating to the scope of his claims, so I could not screen the complaint as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A. I directed Nelson to file one amended complaint that included all of his claims against all the defendants he wanted to sue.

         Nelson has complied with the court's order, but his amended complaint now has a different problem. Specifically, it includes unrelated claims against different defendants, which violates the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. I will give Nelson 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 Rule 20 and Rule 21 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and a court's inherent authority, a lawsuit may be severed when it includes unrelated claims against different defendants. Lee v. Cook Cty., Ill., 635 F.3d 969, 971 (7th Cir. 2011); In re High Fructose Corn Syrup Antitrust Lit., 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 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 Nelson's complaint reveals that it includes at least three separate lawsuits about his treatment at Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility:

         Lawsuit No. 1:

• Captain Gegare watched Nelson while Nelson was naked and showering;
• When Nelson tried to stop Gegare from watching him, Gegare, Supervisor Ackerman, Correctional Officer Powledge, Correctional Officer Flemming, and Correctional Officer McWilliam used excessive force on him;
• Gegare told Nelson to kill himself to retaliate against Nelson for filing a grievance.

         Lawsuit No. 2:

• Various prison officials took Nelson out of protective confinement without providing him adequate mental health treatment.

         Lawsuit No. 3:

• Dr. McLain wouldn't send Nelson to the hospital when he was vomiting, spitting up blood, and suffering from other symptoms related to ulcers.

         Nelson also alleges that he was reincarcerated because of various actions taken by Amy Lampone, the agent supervising him while he was released. But if I ruled in favor of Nelson on these claims, it would call into question the validity of his confinement. That type of claim must be brought in the context of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, and only after the prisoner exhausts his remedies in state court. Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 481 (1994). Nelson cannot challenge his confinement in a ...


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