United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division
Kristine G. Baker United States District Judge.
Court has reviewed the Proposed Findings and Recommendations
submitted by United States Magistrate Judge Joe J. Volpe
(Dkt. No. 13). Plaintiff Chris Ward filed objections to the
Proposed Findings and Recommendations (Dkt. No. 14). The
Court has reviewed those objections. After a de novo
review of the record, Proposed Findings and Recommendations,
and the objections thereto, the Court concludes that the
Proposed Findings and Recommendations should be, and hereby
are, approved and adopted in their entirety as this
Court's findings in all respects.
Proposed Findings and Recommendations conclude that Mr. Ward
has alleged multiple, unrelated claims, and they are unsuited
to prosecution in a single action (Dkt. No. 13, at 3). Judge
Volpe invited Mr. Ward to amend his complaint, with
instructions on how to proceed (Dkt. No. 6). Mr. Ward chose
not to amend his complaint.
initial matter, Judge Volpe in the Proposed Findings and
Recommendations concludes that only Mr. Ward's
allegations of unconstitutional conditions of confinement
should remain (Dkt. No. 13, at 3). Judge Volpe concludes that
Mr. Ward's claims of deliberate indifference to serious
medical need, claims regarding mail delivery, failure to
protect claims, freedom of religion claims, failure to train
claims, property claims, due process claims, claims regarding
the grievance process, retaliation claims, and false
disciplinary claims should be dismissed without prejudice
because none of these claims are sufficiently related to
proceed in a single action (Dkt. No. 13, at 3-4).
Ward objects to this conclusion, contending that there is a
fact common to all of the named defendants in this action and
all of his claims against them: They all work for ADC and
hold power over his life and liberty (Dkt. No. 14, at 1). He
contends that dismissal is not the proper remedy for
misjoinder and that he is permitted to pursue all claims he
has against one defendant in a single proceeding. Mr. Ward
also contends that because he is a pro se litigant,
his complaint should be held to a less stringent standard.
Court acknowledges that pro se pleadings are to be
construed liberally. However, pro se
litigants are not excused from failing to comply with
substantive and procedural law. Burgs v. Sissel, 745
F.2d 526, 528 (8th Cir. 1984). When faced with a similar
situation involving a pro se complaint alleging multiple
unrelated claims against multiple defendants, the United
States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit had the
The controlling principle appears in Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a):
“A party asserting a claim to relief as an original
claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim, may
join, either as independent or as alternate claims, as many
claims, legal, equitable, or maritime, as the party has
against an opposing party.” Thus multiple claims
against a single party are fine, but Claim A against
Defendant 1 should not be joined with unrelated Claim B
against Defendant 2. Unrelated claims against different
defendants belong in different suits, not only to prevent the
sort of morass that this 50 claim, 24 defendant suit produced
but also to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing
fees-for the Prison Litigation Reform Act limits to 3 the
number of frivolous suits or appeals that any prisoner may
file without prepayment of the required fees. 28 U.S.C.
George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007).
Eastern District of Arkansas has taken a similar approach,
namely that pro se litigants cannot avoid the
requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act by joining
in one lawsuit a multitude of unrelated and legally distinct
claims involving different defendants. Fudge v.
Hobbs, No. 2:07-cv-00101 WRW, 2007 WL 2827684 (E.D. Ark.
Sept. 27, 2007); Winnett v. Burls, No. 2:10-cv-00106
DPM/HDY, 2010 WL 4838455 (Oct. 8, 2010); Hurdsman v.
Wright, No. 4:15-cv-00090 KGB/JVV, 2015 WL 1932250 (Apr.
Mr. Ward named 58 defendants in his original 19-page, single
spaced, handwritten complaint (Dkt. No. 2). His proposed
amended complaint names 40 defendants (Dkt. No. 16). His
original complaint contains approximately 21 claims, many
with multiple subpoints. His proposed amended complaint
contains approximately 40 claims, asserting various claims
against various defendants. These claims range from claims of
deliberate indifference to medical needs, to claims regarding
mail service, freedom of religion claims, retaliation claims,
and property claims. This Court has carefully reviewed each
of Mr. Ward's allegations in both his original and
proposed amended complaint. His proposed amended complaint
was filed after Judge Volpe entered the Proposed Findings and
Recommendations currently before this Court and after Mr.
Ward filed his objections to those Proposed Findings and
Recommendations (Dkt. Nos. 13, 14, 16). Mr. Ward also filed
several weeks later a motion to correct his proposed amended
complaint (Dkt. No. 17).
the Court's careful review, the Court determines that the
single unifying factor, if one exists, is that all of his
claims and proposed claims arise as a result of his
confinement. This alone is not sufficient to conclude that
his claims against the multiple named defendants are
sufficiently related such that Mr. Ward should be allowed to
pursue them in one proceeding. Therefore, the Court agrees
with the conclusion in the Proposed Findings and
Recommendations that Mr. Ward's claims of deliberate
indifference to serious medical need, claims regarding mail
delivery, failure to protect claims, freedom of religion
claims, failure to train claims, property claims, due process
claims, claims regarding the grievance process, retaliation
claims, and false disciplinary claims, should be dismissed
without prejudice because none of these claims are
sufficiently related to proceed in a single action.
Judge Volpe in the Proposed Findings and Recommendations also
specifically addresses Mr. Ward's conditions of
confinement or Eighth Amendment claims against the Arkansas
Department of Correction. In doing so, the Proposed Findings
and Recommendations conclude that Mr. Ward's Eighth
Amendment claims should be dismissed. Judge Volpe analyzed
each of Mr. Ward's allegations in this regard, concluding
that none were sufficient to survive screening and that many
were in fact frivolous, including his claims of not being
assigned the job of his choice, not being paid for work,
being punished for not working satisfactorily, not being
allowed to conduct business as free men, being forced to be
dependent on the state, not being allowed to review prison
files, not being allowed to engage in sexual relations, being
limited on the amount of property inmates may have, not being
allowed to view pornography, not being allowed to shower as
needed, not being allowed to remove shirts during outside
recreation, being forced to endure prison officials using
profanity and belittling inmates, being denied commissary
items while on restriction, being prevented from fully
expressing himself because of censoring, and being denied the
opportunity to participate in special projects. Mr.
Ward's objections do not include any new factual
allegations or argument or otherwise indicate how the record
before Judge Volpe was inadequate or lacking. Therefore, the
Court adopts the portion of the Proposed Findings and
Recommendations dismissing without prejudice Mr. Ward's
conditions of confinement or Eighth Amendment claims.
therefore, ordered that all claims in Mr. Ward's
complaint are dismissed without prejudice (Dkt. No. 2). His
motion to correct or amend his complaint is denied as moot,
as this Court reviewed the allegations in his proposed
amended complaint when reaching its decision here (Dkt. No.
17). His motion for default judgment is denied as moot (Dkt.
No. 21). His motion for service is denied as moot (Dkt. No.
22). The Court certifies, ...