United States District Court, E.D. Virginia
COREY M. LEWIS-BEY, Plaintiff,
WILLIAM WILSON, et al., Defendants.
E. PAYNE SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
M. Lewis-Bey, a former Virginia prisoner proceeding pro
se and in forma pauperis, filed this 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 action. The matter is before the Court for
evaluation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 8(a),
20(a),  and Lewis-Bey's compliance with the
Court's August 24, 2018 Memorandum Order. Specifically,
by Memorandum Order entered August 24, 2018, the Court
directed Lewis-Bey to submit a particularized complaint. (ECF
No. 12.) The Court noted that the particularized complaint
needed to explain why Lewis-Bey believed each defendant was
liable to him. (Id. at 1.) Furthermore, the Court
warned Lewis-Bey 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. at 2.)
explained below, the Second Particularized Complaint
("Complaint," ECF No. 13) fails to comply with the
directives of the Court, including the rules regarding
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.
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,
566 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, 355 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). Therefore, in order for a claim
or complaint to survive dismissal for failure to state a
claim, 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)).
while the Court liberally construes pro se
complaints, Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151
(4th Cir. 1978), it does not act as the inmate's
advocate, sua sponte developing statutory and
constitutional claims 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 20 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).
SUMMARY OF ...