United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
JAMES L. JACK, Plaintiff,
MICHAEL L. CHAPMAN, et al., Defendants.
E. Payne, Senior United States District Judge.
L. Jack, a Virginia inmate, has submitted this civil action
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The matter is before the Court
for evaluation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e(c), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 8(a),
20(a),  and Jack's compliance with the
Court's May 9, 2017 Memorandum Order. Specifically, by
Memorandum Order entered May 9, 2017, the Court directed Jack
to submit a particularized complaint. (ECF No. 22.) The Court
noted that Jack's submissions failed to provide each
named defendant "with fair notice of the facts and legal
basis upon which his or her liability rests."
(Id. at 2 (citation omitted).) The Court advised
Jack that his particularized complaint needed to include a
list of named defendants in the first paragraph.
(Id.) The particularized complaint also needed to
explain why Jack believed each defendant was liable to him.
(Id.) Furthermore, the Court warned Jack that if he
failed to submit an appropriate particularized complaint that
comported with the joinder requirements as set forth in the
Memorandum Order, the Court would drop all defendants not
properly joined with the first named defendant. (Id.
9, 2017, the Court received Jack's Particularized
Complaint. (ECF No. 26.) As explained below, the
Particularized Complaint fails to comply with the directives
of the Court, including the rules regarding joinder.
to the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") this
Court must dismiss any action filed by a prisoner if the
Court determines the action (1) "is frivolous" or
(2) "fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A. The first standard includes claims based upon
"'an indisputably meritless legal theory,
'" or claims where the "'factual
contentions are clearly baseless.'" Clay v.
Yates, 809 F.Supp. 417, 427 (E.D. Va. 1992) (quoting
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989)). The
second standard is the familiar standard for a motion to
dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency
of a complaint; importantly, it does not resolve contests
surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the
applicability of defenses." Republican Party of N.C.
v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (citing 5A
Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal
Practice and Procedure § 1356 (1990)). In
considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim,
a plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations are taken as true
and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to
the plaintiff. Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d
1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993); see also Martin, 980
F.2d at 952. This principle applies only to factual
allegations, however, and "a court considering a motion
to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that,
because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled
to the assumption of truth." Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "require[ ] only 'a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to 'give
the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (second alteration
in original) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 3 55 U.S.
41, 47 (1957)). Plaintiffs cannot satisfy this standard with
complaints containing only "labels and conclusions"
or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action." Id. (citations omitted). Instead, a
plaintiff must allege facts sufficient "to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level, " id.
(citation omitted), stating a claim that is "plausible
on its face, " id. at 570, rather than merely
"conceivable." Id. "A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp., 550
U.S. at 556) . In order for a claim or complaint to survive
dismissal for failure to state a claim, therefore, the
plaintiff must "allege facts sufficient to state all the
elements of [his or] her claim." Bass v. E.I. DuPont
de Nemours & Co., 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir. 2003)
(citing Dickson v. Microsoft Corp., 309 F.3d 193,
213 (4th Cir. 2002); Iodice v. United States, 289
F.3d 270, 281 (4th Cir. 2002)). Lastly, while the Court
liberally construes pro se complaints, Gordon
v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978), it will
not act as the inmate's advocate and develop, sua
sponte, statutory and constitutional claims that the
inmate failed to clearly raise on the face of his complaint.
See Brock v. Carroll, 107 F.3d 241, 243 (4th Cir.
1997) (Luttig, J., concurring); Beaudett v. City Of
Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure place limits on a
plaintiff's ability to join multiple defendants in a
single pleading. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a). "The
'transaction or occurrence test' of [Rule 20] . . .
'permit[s] all reasonably related claims for relief by or
against different parties to be tried in a single proceeding.
Absolute identity of all events is unnecessary.'"
Saval v. BL Ltd., 710 F.2d 1027, 1031 (4th Cir.
1983) (quoting Mosley v. Gen. Motors Corp., 497 F.2d
1330, 1333 (8th Cir. 1974)). "But, Rule 20 does not
authorize a plaintiff to add claims 'against different
parties [that] present[ ] entirely different factual and
legal issues.'" Sykes v. Bayer Pharm.
Corp., 548 F.Supp.2d 208, 218 (E.D. Va. 2008)
(alterations in original) (quoting Lovelace v. Lee,
No. 7:03cv00395, 2007 WL 3069660, at *1 (W.D. Va. Oct. 21,
2007)). "And, a court may *deny joinder if it determines
that the addition of the party under Rule 2 0 will not foster
the objectives of [promoting convenience and expediting the
resolution of disputes], but will result in prejudice,
expense, or delay.'" Id. (quoting
Aleman v. Chugach Support Servs., Inc., 485 F.3d
206, 218 n.5 (4th Cir. 2007)).
addressing joinder, the Court is mindful that "the
impulse is toward entertaining the broadest possible scope of
action consistent with fairness to the parties; joinder of
claims, parties and remedies is strongly encouraged."
United Mine Workers of Am. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715,
724 (1966). This impulse, however, does not provide a
plaintiff free license to join multiple defendants into a
single lawsuit where the claims against the defendants are
unrelated. See, e.g., George v. Smith, 507
F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007); Coughlin v. Rogers,
130 F.3d 1348, 1350 (9th Cir. 1997). Thus, "[a] buckshot
complaint that would be rejected if filed by a free
person-say, a suit complaining that A defrauded the
plaintiff, B defamed him, C punched him, D failed to pay a
debt, and E infringed his copyright, all in different
transactions-should be rejected if filed by a prisoner."
George, 507 F.3d at 607.
Court's obligations under the PLRA include review for
compliance with Rule 20(a)." Coles v. McNeely,
No. 3:11CV130, 2011 WL 3703117, at *3 (E.D. Va. Aug 23, 2011)
(citing George, 507 F.3d at 607).
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 these complaints have
produced but also to ensure that prisoners pay the required
Id. (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g); Showalter
v. Johnson, No. 7:08cv00276, 2009 WL 1321694, at *4
(W.D. Va. May 12, 2009) ("To allow [plaintiff] to pay
one filing fee yet join disparate claims against dozens of
parties flies in the face of the letter and spirit of the
SUMMARY OF CLAIMS AND DEFENDANTS
Particularized Complaint names thirty-one individuals as
defendants. The Court construes Jack's Particularized
Complaint to raise the following claims for relief:
Claim One: Defendant Dikeman "violated a police order by
placing allegations to a subject on the Internet, via
Facebook, alleging a crime that had taken place in Leesburg,
Va." (Part. Compl. 2.)
Claim Two: Defendants Dikeman, Rima, and Lowden violated
Jack's rights under the Fourth Amendment by arresting him
and searching him "without a warrant, ...