United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Randy Mast, #338517; Thomas Caron, #370853; William Taylor, #306746; Shawn Pearson, #200290; Byron Pou, #350729; Isaac Bradley, #315370; Tony Middleton, #3666657; Jeffery Bethea, #340959; Samuel Taylor, #366299; Julius Manigault, #362635; James Hailey, #363373; M. Williams, #357023; J. Perry, #357361; and L. Thomas, #339893, Plaintiffs,
Ridgeland Correctional Institution, et al., Defendant.
Margaret B. Seymour, Senior United States District Judge.
complaint is filed by fifteen pro se inmates incarcerated at
Ridgeland Correctional Institution, a facility of the South
Carolina Department of Corrections (“SCDC”).
Plaintiffs filed the within complaint concerning “the
living conditions of the cells at Ridgeland Correctional,
inside of RH which is considered the lock up unit.”
[ECF No. 1]. Plaintiffs seek to file a class action lawsuit
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has
held that pro se prisoners cannot bring a class action
lawsuit. See Oxendine v. Williams, 509 F.2d 1405,
1407 (4th Cir. 1975) (“[T]he competence of a layman
representing himself [is] clearly too limited to allow him to
risk the rights of others.”); see also Hummer v.
Dalton, 657 F.2d 621, 625-26 (4th Cir. 1981) (holding
that a pro se prisoner's suit is “confined to
redress for violation of his own personal rights and not one
by him as a knight-errant for all prisoners”).
this Circuit has not ruled on the issue of whether multiple
prisoner plaintiffs are allowed to join under Rule 20 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, or the issue of fee payment
in a case filed by multiple prisoners, the United States
Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit addressed these
issues in Hubbard v. Haley, 262 F.3d 1194, 1198
(11th Cir. 2001), and found that prisoners may not join in
one action. The Hubbard court reasoned that, because
the plain language of the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”), Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321
(1996), requires each prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis
to pay the full filing fee, it was appropriate to sever the
claims and require each prisoner to file a separate lawsuit.
Hubbard, 262 F.3d at 1198. Even in light of more
flexible holdings in other circuits regarding permissive
joinder of multiple prisoner plaintiffs, see Hagan v.
Rogers, 570 F.3d 146, 157 (3d Cir. 2009); Boriboune
v. Berge, 391 F.3d 852, 855 (7th Cir. 2004); In re
Prison Litigation Reform Act, 105 F.3d 1131, 1137-38
(6th Cir. 1997), courts in this district have found the
analysis in Hubbard persuasive and have declined to
permit prisoner plaintiffs to join in one civil action.
See Williams v. Jones, C/A No. 9:14-787-RMG-BM, 2014
WL 2155251, at *10 (D.S.C. May 22, 2014) (adopting report and
recommendation collecting cases which find Hubbard
persuasive); McFadden v. Fuller, C/A No.
2:13-2290-JMC, 2013 WL 6182365, at *2 (D.S.C. Nov. 22, 2013)
(agreeing with the magistrate judge's conclusion that
multiple prisoner plaintiffs “should not be allowed to
proceed under one joint action”); see also Carroll
v. United States, C/A No. 5:14-2167-JMC, 2015 WL 854927,
at *9-10 (D.S.C. Feb. 27, 2015) (denying joinder of seventy
pro se prisoners as co-plaintiffs and noting that the
“court has discretion to disallow joinder when it is
infeasible or prejudicial”).
addition to the requirement that “indigent prisoners
filing lawsuits be held responsible for the full amount of
filing fees, ” Torres v. O'Quinn, 612 F.3d
237, 241 (4th Cir. 2010) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)),
abrogated on other grounds by Bruce v. Samuels, 136
S.Ct. 627 (2016); the PLRA also requires each prisoner to
exhaust his or her administrative remedies prior to filing a
civil lawsuit. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a);
see also Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 85 (2006);
Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524 (2002).
“Just as payment of one fee does not cover multiple
plaintiffs under the PLRA, exhaustion of administrative
remedies by one prisoner does not meet the exhaustion
requirement for all of the Plaintiffs.”
Williams, 2014 WL 2155251 at *11. Thus, each
Plaintiff's claim “will require individualized
determinations.” Id.; see also
McFadden, 2013 WL 6182365 at *1 (noting that “each
Plaintiff would need to meet the exhaustion requirement of
the PLRA and might be entitled to differing amounts of
the court concludes that the claims of the fifteen Plaintiffs
in the instant action should be separated for initial review.
THE CLERK OF COURT:
captioned case shall pertain only to the first named
Plaintiff, Randy Mast, #338517. Therefore, the Clerk of Court
is directed to terminate Thomas Caron, #370853; William
Taylor, #306746; Shawn Pearson, #200290; Byron Pou, #350729;
Isaac Bradley, #315370; Tony Middleton, #3666657; Jeffery
Bethea, #340959; Samuel Taylor, #366299; Julius Manigault,
#362635; James Hailey, #363373; M. Williams, #357023; J.
Perry, #357361; and L. Thomas, #339893, as plaintiffs in the
above-referenced case. The Clerk of Court is further directed
to assign separate civil action numbers to the plaintiffs
terminated in this case. The Clerk of Court shall file this
order as the initial docket entry in the newly created cases,
and shall re-file the Complaint [ECF No. 1] in the newly
created actions. The defendants in the newly created case
will be the same defendants listed in the above-captioned
case. The Clerk of Court is authorized to determine the most
efficient way and time for assigning and entering the new
case number, party information, and pleading information on
the court's electronic case management system.
the new cases are docketed, the assigned Magistrate Judge is
authorized to issue orders pursuant to the General Order
issued in In Re: Procedures in Civil Actions Filed by
Prisoner Pro Se Litigants, 3:07-mc-5014-JFA (D.S.C.
Sept. 18, 2007), and conduct ...