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Venneau v. Woodard

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Ocala Division

November 21, 2019

ERNEST J. VENNEAU, Plaintiff,
v.
MS. WOODARD, MS. DUDSHOFF, MS. RANDOLPH, MS. HOLMES, Defendants.

          ORDER

          WILLIAM F. JUNG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff initiated this action on September 20, 2019 by filing a, pro se Civil Rights Complaint (Doc. 1) and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 7). The case is before the Court for screening pursuant to the Prison Litigation and Reform Act (PLRA). The PLRA directs the Court to dismiss a case if the Court determines that the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.[1]The Court must liberally construe a, pro se plaintiff s allegations.[2]

         Claims

         In his Complaint, Venneau sues Ms. Woodard (Assistant Warden, Sumter CI), Ms. Dudshof F (Head of Classification, Sumter CI), Ms. Randolph (Head of Classification, Butler Reception), Ms. Holmes (State Classification Officer, Butler Reception), for alleged wrongdoing during his incarceration at Sumter CI and Butler Reception.[3] (Doc. 1 at 5-17). Venneau claims that Defendants "maliciously with total disregaurd [sic] to plaintiffs life, failed to protect plaintiff, sending him to a violent gang infested inviorment [sic]. Plaintiffs throat was sliced." (Doc. 1 at 21).

         For relief, Plaintiff seeks nominal damages of $1.00 and "punitive/compensatory damages of $200, 000.00 per claim/per Defendant." Id.

         Improper Joinder A plaintiff may set forth related claims in one civil rights complaint. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20(a), a plaintiff may not join unrelated claims and various defendants unless the claims arise "out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences and if any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action." Id. As recognized by the Eleventh Circuit, "a claim arises out of the same transaction or occurrence if there is a logical relationship between the claims." Construct Aggregates, Ltd. v. Forest Commodities Corp., 147 F.3d 1334, 1337 (11th Cir. 1998). Claims that are unrelated must be raised in separate actions.

         Allowing this action to go forward against all 4 defendants would prejudice the defendants and would be fundamentally unfair. See Don King Prods., Inc. v. Colon-Rosario, 561 F.Supp.2d 189, 192 (D.P.R. 2008) (where claims against multiple defendants arose from distinct transactions and would give rise to unique defenses, the plaintiffs "convenience to bring all claims against these defendants in one action without paying fee for each defendant, is outweighed by the prejudice and delay it would put on the Court's shoulders, as well as each defendant's defense counsel").

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 21, the proper remedy for improper joinder of parties is not dismissal. Rather, "[o]n motion or on its own, the court may at any time, on just terms, add or drop a party. The court may also sever any claim against a party." Id.

         Here, it is appropriate to dismiss the claims arising out of Reception and Medical Center[4] and proceed in this Court only on the claims arising out of Sumter CI.

         Conclusion

         Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED:

         1. Plaintiffs claims against Reception and Medical Center Defendants Randolph and Holmes are DISMISSED without prejudice to raising these claims in the proper venue. The Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly.

         2. Plaintiffs claims against Sumter CI Defendants Woodward and Dudshoff will remain in this case.

         DONE ...


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