Buy This Entire Record For
Harper v. Boughton
United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
December 16, 2019
KEVIN OMAR HARPER, Plaintiff,
WARDEN G. BOUGHTON, JOHN DOE PRISON MEDICAL PROVIDER, MR. BUSSIE, GEORGE G. REICHERT, NURSE FRANK, JANE DOE NURSE, NURSE SCHULTZ, NURSE GARDENER, NURSE GIBBONS, BUCHANAN, LUCAS WEBER, ANTHONY REED, CAPT. SCHULTZ, CAPT. JUDD, CAPT. BOODRY, L.T. GERRY, L.T. OLSON, SGT. SCHNEIDER, SGT. THOME-HOUGH, C.O. WOODRUFF, C.O. BARRY, C.O ANDERSON, C.O. WILLIAMS, C.O. WINWOOD, C.O. LLOYD, C.O. NGUYEN, C.O. KLEMM, C.O. BORTZ, C.O. AWITI, C.O. GELLER, C.O. ENGERBRETSON, C.O. PETTY, C.O. MARK N. DANZ, C.O. GANDER, C.O. MOORE, C.O. FISCHER, and JOHN DOES CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff Kevin Omar Harper filed this civil action under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against more than 30 defendants who work
at Wisconsin Secure Program Facility, where Harper is
incarcerated. Harper contends that defendants violated his
constitutional rights in various ways. Harper's complaint
is before the court for screening under 28 U.S.C. §
1915A, to determine whether his complaint should be dismissed
as frivolous, malicious, for failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, or because Harper seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.
cannot conduct the required screening because Harper's
complaint violates Rule 20 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Rule 20 prohibits litigants from bringing
unrelated claims against different defendants in a single
action. As discussed below, Harper's complaint contains
allegations that belong in eight separate lawsuits. I will
give Harper an opportunity to choose which claims he wishes
to pursue in this case, which claims he wants to pursue in a
different case, or which claims he wishes to dismiss without
prejudice to refiling at a later date.
Rule 20 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a lawsuit
may be severed when it includes unrelated claims against
different defendants. Fed.R.Civ.P. 20; Lee v. Cook Cty.,
Ill., 635 F.3d 969, 971 (7th Cir. 2011); Aiello v.
Kingston, 947 F.2d 834, 835 (7th Cir. 1991);
Goodvine v. Meisner, 608 Fed.Appx. 415, 417 (7th
Cir. 2015). And even when the claims are related, the court
has authority under Rule 21 and its inherent authority to
sever a lawsuit when it would be unwieldy to allow a
plaintiff to bring multiple claims against many different
defendants in a single case. Lee, 635 F.3d at 971
(7th Cir. 2011) (court may sever claims under Fed.R.Civ.P. 21
when differences between the claims predominate over common
questions); In re High Fructose Corn Syrup Antitrust
Litigation, 361 F.3d 439, 441 (7th Cir. 2004) (court has
inherent authority to sever claims in interest of justice
even when standard under Rule 21 is not satisfied).
complaint names more than 30 individuals and several John and
Jane Doe prison staff members as defendants. He alleges that
prison staff denied him access to asthma medication on
several occasions, that staff used excessive force against
him, that staff retaliated against him, and that he was
punished for complaining about sexual mistreatment. His
allegations relate to different incidents and involve
different staff members. Even Harper's numerous
allegations and claims relating to his access to asthma
medication arise from distinct incidents that occurred at
different times and involved different primary
decisionmakers. Therefore, I conclude that Harper's
allegations should be severed into eight lawsuits under Rule
20, Rule 21, and the court's inherent authority. UWM
Student Ass'n v. Lovell, 888 F.3d 854, 863 (7th Cir.
2018) (“[The federal] rules are broad, giving district
courts considerable flexibility in managing and structuring
civil litigation for fair and efficient resolution of complex
disputes.”). Those lawsuits are:
1. On November 28 and 29, 2018, Harper was denied access to
his inhaler and nebulizer due to segregation policies
enforced by defendants Warden Boughton and Unit Manager
Bussie. He had an asthma attack and defendants John Doe
correctional officers denied him access to his inhaler.
Defendants Lt. Gerry and John Doe correctional officers then
deployed pepper spray into a nearby cell despite knowing
about Harper's asthma. Gerry and John Does refused
Harper's requests for medical treatment, and John Does
denied Harper fresh clothing and a shower.
2. On December 2 and 17, 2018, defendants Woodruff,
Schneider, Thome-Hough, and John Doe correctional officers
failed to provide Harper assistance during an asthma attack.
3. From December 20 to 26, 2018, after Harper was released
from segregation, he was denied his nebulizer. Defendants
Awiti, Engerbretson, Geller, and John Doe correctional
officers refused to help him, and Nurse Frank failed to
provide him adequate medical treatment.
4. On November 5, 2018, defendants Captain Schultz and Jane
Doe Nurse forced Harper to get a flu shot, which caused him
to get sick.
5. In March 2019, defendants Petty and Danz, correctional
officers, and Nurses Gardener and Schultz forced Harper to
give up his nebulizer for an unneeded repair. Harper later
suffered an asthma attack, and Schultz, Petty, and Danz
refused to help him. Harper was injured during his asthma
attack, and defendant Nurse Gibbons refused to treat his
6. In March 2019, defendant Gander, a correctional officer,
forced Harper to work even though Harper told him he was
suffering from vertigo. While at work, Harper told Awiti,
another correctional officer, that he was suffering from
vertigo and needed to go to health services. Awiti refused to
let Harper go even though Harper kept falling.
7. On April 25, 2019, Harper had an asthma attack while in
the library and defendant Moore, a correctional officer,
refused to get him medical attention. Moore later gave Harper
a conduct report for seeking medical attention on his own.
Moore told Harper that he issued the conduct report because
of Harper's race.
8. On May 22, 2019, defendant Anthony Reed, a corrections
food service leader, told Harper to show his private parts to
him or he would fire Harper from his kitchen job. Harper
refused and reported the incident to defendant Fischer, a
correctional officer, who told Harper to go back to his
housing unit and “cool off.” Harper later wrote a
complaint about the incident, and defendant Captain Judd