United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
R. JONES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a state inmate presently confined at Hamilton Correctional
Institution, initiated this case by filing a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) The
Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed as a pauper. (ECF
No. 7.) Plaintiff's complaint, which stems from alleged
retaliation by Sergeant Chunn, is now before the Court for
screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
executed the complaint under penalty of perjury. (ECF No. 1
at 11.) The Court's civil rights complaint form requires
prisoners to disclose their prior litigation history. Section
IV of the Court's civil rights complaint form requires
prisoners to disclose information regarding other lawsuits,
including whether they have initiated other actions in state
or federal court dealing with the same or similar facts
involved in the instant case, whether they have initiated
other cases dealing with the fact or manner of their
incarceration (including habeas corpus petitions),
and whether they have “ever had any actions in federal
court dismissed as frivolous, malicious, for failure to state
a claim, or prior to service, ” and if so to
“identify each and every case so dismissed.”
(Id. at 2-3.) The form expressly warns that
“FAILURE TO DISCLOSE ALL PRIOR CIVIL
CASES MAY RESULT IN THE DISMISSAL OF THIS CASE. IF YOU ARE
UNSURE OF ANY PRIOR CASES YOU HAVE FILED, THAT FACT MUST BE
DISCLOSED AS WELL.” (Id. at 2.) In response to
these questions, Plaintiff affirmatively represented that he
had filed no prior state or federal cases.
(Id. at 2-3.)
review of the Court's PACER Case Locator reflects that,
contrary to his sworn representations in the complaint,
Plaintiff filed at least three additional actions in federal
district court while he has been incarcerated. See Clark
v. Moore, No. 3:96-cv-1279-HES, ECF Nos. 65-66 (M.D.
Fla. Mar. 24, 1999) (dismissing with prejudice
Plaintiff's petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28
U.S.C. § 2254); Clark v. Moore, No.
3:01-cv-249-HLA, ECF Nos. 3-4 (M.D. Fla. Mar. 14, 2001)
(dismissing without prejudice Plaintiff's petition for
writ of habeas corpus under § 2254 for failing to obtain
leave from the Eleventh Circuit to file a second or
successive petition); Clark v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't
of Corr., No. 3:04-cv-336-UA, ECF Nos. 2-3 (M.D. Fla.
May 13, 2004) (dismissing without prejudice Plaintiff's
petition for writ of habeas corpus under § 2254 for
failing to obtain leave from the Eleventh Circuit to file a
second or successive petition). The Court confirmed that the
petitioner in these cases is the same as the plaintiff in
this case, having been identified by his FDOC inmate number
absence of any basis for excusing a plaintiff's lack of
candor, failure to disclose and truthfully describe previous
lawsuits warrants dismissal of the complaint for abuse of the
judicial process. See Redmon v. Lake County Sheriff's
Office, No. 10-11070, 2011 WL 576601, at *4 (11th Cir.
Feb. 10, 2011). In Redmon, the Eleventh Circuit
affirmed the dismissal of a prisoner's civil rights
complaint that did not disclose a previous lawsuit. The
plaintiff argued that he “misunderstood” the
form, but the Court held that the district court had the
discretion to conclude that the plaintiff's explanation
did not excuse his misrepresentation because the complaint
form “clearly asked Plaintiff to disclose previously
filed lawsuits .. . .” Id. The Court
determined that dismissal was an appropriate sanction:
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, “[a] finding that the
plaintiff engaged in bad faith litigiousness or manipulative
tactics warrants dismissal.” Attwood v.
Singletary, 105 F.3d 610, 613 (11th Cir. 1997). In
addition, a district court may impose sanctions if a party
knowingly files a pleading that contains false contentions.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(c). Although pro se pleadings are
held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by
attorneys, a plaintiff's pro se status will not
excuse mistakes regarding procedural rules. McNeil v.
United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113, 113 S.Ct. 1980, 1984,
124 L.Ed.2d 21 (1993).
addition to revealing whether a prisoner is subject to the
PLRA's “three strikes” provision, the
information required on the form assists the Court in
efficiently managing prisoner litigation by showing whether a
complaint is related to or is affected by another case. The
failure to exercise candor in completing the form, while
acknowledging that the answers are made under penalty of
perjury, impedes the Court in managing its caseload and
merits the sanction of dismissal. See Redmon, 2011
WL 576601, at *4; Johnson v. Crawson, No.
5:08-cv-300, 2010 WL 1380247, at *2 (N.D. Fla. Mar. 3, 2010)
(“If Plaintiff suffered no penalty for his untruthful
responses, there would be little or no disincentive for his
attempt to evade or undermine the purpose of the form.
Furthermore, if word spread around the prisons that the
questions on the complaint form could be circumvented in such
a manner, the court might be confronted with widespread abuse
from its many prisoner litigants.”); Paulcin v.
McNeil, No. 3:09-cv-151, 2009 WL 2432684, at *2 (N.D.
Fla. Aug. 6, 2009) (“If the court cannot rely on the
statements or responses made by the parties, it threatens the
quality of justice. The court will not tolerate false
responses or statements in any pleading or motion filed
Court ordered Plaintiff to show cause as to why this case
should not be dismissed prior to recommending dismissal. (ECF
No. 13.) Plaintiff responded, representing that the three
cases the Court identified were not considered strikes under
the PLRA, were filed more than a decade ago, were not prior
lawsuits because they were petitions for writ of habeas
corpus, and therefore did not involve any claims or issues
raised in the instant complaint. (ECF No. 16.)
form, however, clearly asks whether the litigant initiated
any other actions, including habeas corpus petitions. The
form also does not require the litigant to only disclose
those actions that were dismissed as frivolous or malicious
and therefore count as a “strike” under the PLRA.
Nor does the form only require disclosure of prior actions
filed within a certain time frame. Nevertheless, even
assuming Plaintiff misunderstood the form, misunderstanding
the form does not excuse Plaintiff's misrepresentations,
particularly in light of the clear instructions on the form
requiring Plaintiff to disclose any cases about which
Plaintiff is unsure. See Redmon, 2011 WL 576601, at
*4. Furthermore, upon review of the instant complaint the
Court finds that Plaintiff will not be prejudiced by the
imposition of dismissal as a sanction.
undersigned therefore concludes that dismissal of this case
without prejudice as malicious for abuse of the judicial
process is an appropriate sanction for Plaintiff's lack
of candor. The dismissal of this case as malicious for abuse
of the judicial process should operate as a
“strike” pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
for the foregoing reasons, it is respectfully
RECOMMENDED that this case should be
DISMISSED without prejudice as malicious for
abuse of the judicial process pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §