United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
L. PALK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is the Report and Recommendation [Doc. No. 23] of
United States Magistrate Judge Shon Erwin pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and (C). Judge Erwin recommends
that the Court: (1) dismiss, without prejudice, all
Plaintiffs, with the exception of Plaintiff Simmons, on
grounds of infeasible joinder; (2) order Plaintiff Simmons to
file an amended complaint, asserting only claims specific to
him; and (3) deny certain applications for joinder pending at
the time the Report and Recommendation was
reasons set forth below, the Report and Recommendation is
adopted, in part. The Court finds the Complaint should be
dismissed without prejudice to refiling on the following
grounds: (1) joinder is not feasible as to Plaintiffs, at
least seven of whom are incarcerated
individuals; (2) Plaintiff, the All In One Project, a
non-profit entity, is not represented by counsel and,
therefore, cannot proceed in this action; and (3) Plaintiff
Gwendolyn Fields, a pro se individual, lacks standing to
proceed, to the extent she purports to bring individual
Procedural History and Plaintiffs' Pro Se
Erwin entered the Report and Recommendation on September 22,
2017. At that time, Plaintiffs were not represented by
counsel. However, on that same date, Plaintiff Gwendolyn
Fields moved for appointment of counsel and appointment of a
special master. Ms. Fields signed the motion as
“Gwendolyn Fields, Pro Se.” See
Motion [Doc. No. 25]. And again, on October 3, 2017,
Plaintiff Gwendolyn Fields again moved for appointment of
counsel and also moved for class certification. See
Plaintiffs' Motion for Certification as a Class Action
and Appointment of Counsel [Doc. No. 37]. Ms. Fields signed
this motion as “Gwendolyn Fields, Lead Organizer, All
In One Project.”
on October 10, 2017, attorney Max Hellman entered an
appearance on behalf of all Plaintiffs. See Entry of
Appearance [Doc. No. 45]. Shortly thereafter, on October 26,
2017, Mr. Hellman filed a Motion to Withdraw [Doc. No. 66],
notifying the Court that Plaintiffs had terminated him as
their counsel and had requested that he file a motion to
withdraw. On December 4, 2017, Judge Erwin granted
Mr. Hellman's Motion. See Order [Doc. No. 76].
on October 26, 2017, the same date that Mr. Hellman moved to
withdraw, Ms. Fields objected to the Report and
Recommendation. See Objection [Doc. No. 64]. Ms.
Fields signed the Objection as “Gwendolyn M. Fields,
Plaintiff Pro se” and as “Lead Organizer”
of the All In One Project. See id. at 7. In the
Objection, Ms. Fields represents that “Plaintiffs have
mailed and are mailing notarized Limited Power of Attorney
documents to the court to facilitate the request that All In
One proceed as their representative.” See id.
at 4 n. 1.
recently, on December 18, 2017, attorney Rand C. Eddy entered
an appearance in this action. See Entry of
Appearance [Doc. No. 78]. That filing expressly states that
Mr. Eddy enters his appearance as counsel solely for
Plaintiff Glynn Simmons. See id. To date, Mr. Eddy
has submitted no other filings in this case.
addition to these filings, multiple prisoners have submitted
“Applications” purporting to request joinder in
this case. The Applications are virtually identical and in
wholly conclusory fashion state: “[t]he relief sought
in this case will affect Petitioner [sic] in the same ways
that it affects Plaintiffs.” See, e.g.,
Application [Doc. No. 26]. Multiple prisoners have also filed
“Notices of Interested Party, ” The Notices are
also virtually identical to one another and similarly state
in wholly conclusory fashion: “I am writing and
requesting to be added as an ‘Interested Party' in
support of ‘Class' certification in . . . Case No.
CIV-17-908, filed in this Court.” See, e.g.,
Notice [Doc. No. 63].
Gwendolyn Fields and the All In One Project
record before the Court demonstrates that this lawsuit has
primarily been engineered by Ms. Fields as “lead
organizer” of the non-profit entity, the All In One
Project. The All In One Project is not currently represented
by counsel. Nor has any licensed attorney submitted any
filings on behalf of the All In One Project other than Mr.
Hellman's Entry of Appearance and Motion to Withdraw,
filed almost immediately after he entered his appearance.
filings with this Court, Plaintiffs affirmatively represent
that Ms. Fields is not a licensed attorney. See,
e.g., Affidavit and Power of Attorney [Doc. No. 73-1] at
1, ¶ 7 (“I understand that Gwendolyn Fields is not
licensed to practice law in the State of Oklahoma or any
other State or Federal jurisdiction.”). Ms. Fields also
affirmatively represents that the All In One Project is
“duly registered with the State of Oklahoma as a
non-profit entity, and is a 501(c)(3) organization.”
See Notice [Doc. No. 36] at 1, ¶ 4. Ms. Fields
further represents that the All In One Project paid the $400
filing fee. Id., ¶ 1. Ms. Fields is not an
incarcerated individual, but appears in this litigation as
the “Lead Organizer” of the All In One Project.
See id., ¶ 2.
well-settled that an individual, who is not an attorney
admitted to practice law, is unauthorized to represent
another person or entity. See Fymbo v. State Farm Fire
and Cas. Co., 213 F.3d 1320, 1321 (10th Cir. 2000)
(“A litigant may bring his own claims to federal court
without counsel, but not the claims of others.”);
see also 28 U.S.C. § 1654. In this same vein, a
non-profit organization may only appear through a licensed
attorney. Nato Indian Nation v. State of Utah, 76 F.
App'x 854, 856 (10th Cir. 2003) (“Individuals may
appear in court pro se, but a corporation, other business
entity, or non-profit organization may only appear through a
licensed attorney.”) (citations omitted)); see
also LCvR 17.1 (“Parties who are not natural
persons may not appear pro se.”). Moreover, “[a]
power of attorney may not be used to circumvent prohibitions
on the unauthorized practice of law.” Brown v.
Peter Francis Jude Beagle Law Office, No. 08-3311-SAC,