United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Ocala Division
ORDER DISMISSING CASE
WILLIAM F. JUNG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a pre-trial detainee at the Marion County Jail, initiated
this case by filing a pro se civil rights Complaint and a
motion for leave to proceed as a pauper. (Docs. 1 and 2). On
September 11, 2019, the Court ordered Plaintiff to show cause
why this case should not be dismissed for abuse of the
judicial process because Plaintiff failed to truthfully
disclose all of his prior federal cases, as required on the
complaint form. (Doc. 8). Plaintiff has filed a response and
a supplemental response. (Docs. 9, 10).
executed the civil rights complaint form under the penalty of
perjury. (Doc. 1 at 9). That form requires prisoners to
disclose information regarding previous lawsuits initiated by
them. Specifically, it required Plaintiff to disclose whether
he had "initiated lawsuits or appeals from lawsuits in
federal court that have been dismissed as frivolous,
malicious, or for failure to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted," and to disclose all other lawsuits he
filed in state or federal court dealing with the same facts
involved in this action, and other lawsuits he filed relating
to his imprisonment or conditions thereof. It also required
Plaintiff to disclose information about each lawsuit filed.
Plaintiff failed to identify any lawsuits.
inquiry concerning a prisoner's prior lawsuits is not a
matter of idle curiosity, nor is it an effort to raise
meaningless obstacles to a prisoner's access to the
courts. Rather, the existence of prior litigation initiated
by a prisoner is required in order for the Court to apply 28
U.S.C. § 1915(g) (the "three strikes rule"
applicable to prisoners proceeding in forma pauperis).
Additionally, it has been the Court's experience that a
significant number of prisoner filings raise claims or issues
that have already been decided adversely to the prisoner in
prior litigation. Identification of that prior litigation
frequently enables the Court to dispose of the successive
case without further expenditure of finite judicial
resources. In the absence of any basis for excusing a
plaintiffs lack of candor, failure to disclose and truthfully
describe previous lawsuits as clearly required on the
Court's prisoner civil rights complaint form warrants
dismissal of the complaint for abuse of the judicial process.
See Redmon v. Lake County Sheriffs Office, 414
Fed.Appx. 221, 225 (11th Cir. 2011).
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
plaintiffs 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 plaintiffs pro se status will not
excuse mistakes regarding procedural rules. McNeil v.
United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993).
Id. The failure to exercise candor in completing the
form impedes the Court in managing its caseload and merits
the sanction of dismissal. See id.; Jenkins v.
Hutcheson, 708 Fed.Appx. 647, 648 (11th Cir. 2018)
(finding that "the district court was entitled to
dismiss [plaintiffs] complaint based on his failure to fully
disclose his litigation history," and noting that the
district court reasoned that requiring prisoners to disclose
prior lawsuits is important to enable courts to apply the
"three strike rule" and dispose of successive cases
that relitigate old matters)
response to the Order to Show Cause (Doc. 9), Plaintiff
states that he filed his complaint while a pre-trial detainee
on facts that occurred prior to his current incarceration and
the claim has nothing to do with prison conditions, therefore
PLRA does not apply. Plaintiffs view of the PLRA is
(e) of 42 U.S.C. § 1997e states that "[n]o Federal
civil action may be brought by a prisoner confined in a jail,
prison, or other correctional facility for mental or
emotional injury suffered while in custody without a prior
showing of physical injury or the commission of a sexual
act." Tracking the language of the statute, §
1997e(e) applies only to lawsuits involving (1) Federal civil
actions (2) brought by a prisoner (3) for mental or emotional
injury (4) suffered while in custody. Napier v.
Preslicka, 314 F.3d 528 (11th Cir. 2002). In
Harris, the Eleventh Circuit decided that the phrase
"Federal civil action" means all federal claims,
including constitutional claims. Harris v. Garner,
216 F.3d 970, 9845-85 (11th Cir. 2000) (en banc). This §
1983 action brought by Plaintiff is a "Federal civil
action" under this definition. As a pretrial detainee,
Plaintiff qualifies as a "prisoner" for purposes of
the PLRA pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(h). Harris
further clarified that the PLRA applies to all cases
initiated by a prisoner, without regard to whether that
prisoner was released before the court considered the merits
of his action. Harris, 216 F.3d at 974. As to the
third element, Plaintiffs Complaint alleges only mental or
emotional injuries. See Doc. 1. The Eleventh Circuit
has held that PLRA should apply to prisoner lawsuits that
claim injuries suffered during custodial episodes, even if
such custody occurred outside prison walls.
Napier, 314 F.3d at 533. Here, Plaintiffs injuries
stem from two formal trespass warnings that were issued by
Ocala Police Department officers, satisfying the custody
requirement. (Doc. 1 at 11, 13-14). Finally, the PLRA covers
all federal civil lawsuits filed by prisoners concerning
emotional or mental injury suffered while in past or
present custody, even if the subject of the filed lawsuits is
unrelated to the current imprisonment. Napier, 314
F.3d at 534. Accordingly, the PLRA applies.
has failed to truthfully disclose his prior cases as required
by the plain language instructions of the form and has failed
to come forward with any persuasive reason to excuse his lack
of candor. The Court finds that Plaintiffs failure to fully
disclose his previous lawsuits, under penalty of perjury,
constitutes an abuse of the judicial process. See Rivera
v. Allin, 144 F.3d 719, 731 (11th Cir. 1998). An
appropriate sanction for such abuse of the judicial process
is the dismissal of the Complaint. Id.
this case is hereby DISMISSED without prejudice. Such
dismissal counts as a "strike" for the purposes of
the three-strikes provision of the PLRA, 28 U.S.C. §
1915(g). The Clerk is directed to enter judgment
dismissing this case without prejudice, terminate any pending
motions, and close the file.