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McKinley v. Civic

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

May 7, 2019

CORE CIVIC, et. al., Defendants.


          Gary M. Purcell, Judge

         Plaintiffs, state prisoners appearing pro se and in forma pauperis, bring this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The matter has been referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for initial proceedings consistent with 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1)(B). Having reviewed the sufficiency of the Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and 1915(e)(2)(B), the undersigned recommends certain of Plaintiffs' claims be dismissed.

         I. Background Information

         Plaintiffs filed their initial Complaint on February 22, 2019. Doc. No. 1. Following some delay in Plaintiffs properly seeking to leave to proceed in forma pauperis and/or pay the requisite filing fee, the Court issued an Order on April 9, 2019, explaining, inter alia, that because the allegations contained within their Complaint were written entirely in the first person, the Court was unable to decipher whether one or both of them was attempting to assert each claim. See generally Doc. No. 13. The Court provided Plaintiffs an opportunity to cure the deficiencies discussed within the Order by filing an amended pleading. Id. at 10. On April 29, 2019, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint. See generally Doc. No. 17 (“Am. Comp.”). Construing the same broadly, it appears Plaintiffs are attempting to assert twelve claims. Specifically, Plaintiff McKinley asserts a First Amendment retaliation claim, see Id. at 10-11, an Eighth Amendment claim based on excessive force, see Id. at 11-12, and two such claims based on inadequate medical care. Id. at 13-15. Plaintiff Williams asserts a First Amendment retaliation claim, see Id. at 15-16, an Eighth Amendment claim based upon excessive force, see Id. at 15-16, and an Eighth Amendment claim based upon inadequate medical care. Id. at 20-21. Plaintiffs jointly assert two First Amendment retaliation claims, see Id. at 16-19, and three Eighth Amendment claims based upon conditions of confinement. Id. at 16-20. Finally, Plaintiffs name twelve Defendants in their Amended Complaint: Lieutenant E. Hebert; Lieutenant Hall; Mrs. Beaming, whom they identify as a doctor; Core Civic medical staff; Case “Contalor” Light; Commanding Officer (“CO”) Lee; Sergeant Vansteenbergh; CO Beard; Core Civic Sort Team; CO Cavin; Unit Manager Battles, and Sgt. Plural. Id. at 1-2, 5-8, 15.

         II. Screening of Prisoner Complaints

         A federal district court must review complaints filed by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). After conducting an initial review, the court must dismiss a complaint or any portion of it presenting claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b).

         In conducting this review, the reviewing court must accept the plaintiff's allegations as true and construe them, and any reasonable inferences to be drawn from the allegations, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Kay v. Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214, 1217 (10th Cir. 2007). Although a pro se litigant's pleadings are liberally construed, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), “[t]he burden is on the plaintiff to frame a ‘complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest' that he or she is entitled to relief.” Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1247-48 (10th Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). The allegations in a complaint must present “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Further, a claim is frivolous “where it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact” or is “based on an indisputably meritless legal theory.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325, 327 (1989).

         III. Plaintiffs' Independent Claims

         As explained above, Plaintiffs jointly assert five claims in this lawsuit. Permissive joinder of parties is governed by Rules 20 and 21 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 20(a) provides, in pertinent part:

(1) Persons may join in one action as plaintiffs if:
(A) they assert any right to relief jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and
(B) any question of law or fact common to all plaintiffs will arise in the action.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a). “Generally, ‘[R]ule 20(a) is aimed at promoting trial convenience and expediting the final determination of disputes, thereby preventing multiple lawsuits.'” Birdwell v. Glanz, 314 F.R.D. 521, 524 (N.D. Okla. 2015) (quoting Sprint Commc'ns Co., L.P. v., Inc., 233 F.R.D. 615, 616 (D. Kan. 2006)). Each of Plaintiffs' joint claims are based upon essentially the same set of factual occurrences and are asserted against the same Defendants. Am. Comp. at 16-20. Thus, as to those claims, Plaintiffs clearly meet Rule 20(a)'s requirements for joinder.

         However, in addition to their jointly asserted claims, Plaintiffs also assert seven claims individually that rely on independent factual circumstances and/or allegations that are unrelated to their fellow Plaintiff. For example, Plaintiff McKinley asserts an Eighth Amendment claim of inadequate medical care based upon allegations that Defendant Beaming failed to provide the proper medication for Plaintiff's mental health condition(s). Id. at 13-14. Plaintiff Williams asserts an Eighth Amendment claim of excessive force ...

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