United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
Russell C. Geissler, Jason C. Leaphart, Don S. Maness, Plaintiffs,
Mr. Williams, Mrs. Glidewell, Mr. Williams, Mrs. Maddox, Defendants.
C. COGGINS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a civil rights action filed by three state prisoners,
proceeding pro se. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has
held that 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 prisoner's suit is “confined to redress for
violation of his own personal rights and not one by him as a
knight-errand 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 Eleventh Circuit
Court of Appeals 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 (3rd 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
addition to the requirement that “indigent prisoners
filing lawsuits be held responsible for the full amount of
filing fees, ” Torres v. O'Quinn, 621 F.3d
237, 241 (4th Cir. 2010), 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 [p]laintiffs.”
Williams, 2014 WL 2155251, at *11. Thus, each
Plaintiff's claims “will require individualized
determinations.” Id.; see also
McFadden, 2013 WL 6182365, at *1 (noting that
“each [p]laintiff would need to meet the exhaustion
requirement of the PLRA and might be entitled to differing
amounts of damages”).
the Court concludes that the claims of the three Plaintiffs
in the instant action should be separated for initial
THE CLERK OF COURT:
above-captioned case shall pertain only to the first named
Plaintiff, Russell C. Geissler. Therefore, the Clerk of Court
is directed to terminate Jason C. Leaphart and Don S. Maness
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 the
determine the most efficient manner and time for assigning
and entering the new case number, party information, and
pleading information on the court's electronic case
the new cases are docketed, the assigned Magistrate Judge is
authorized to issue orders pursuant to the General Order
issued in 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 initial ...