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Molley v. Formica

United States District Court, Third Circuit

November 18, 2013

SHARRIK S. MOLLEY, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
FRANK D. FORMICA, et al., Defendants.

Sharrik S. Molley, Shawn Braxton, Abdul Sanderlin, Khalif Davis, Nolan Mitchell, Shawn Williams, Wayne Crymes, Camargo Luis, Rafael Colon, Ibr Abdullah, Johnny Cobb, Erving Johnson, Michael Pope, William Andrews, Jose Mendez, Andrew Garland, Michael Robinson, Javon Figueroa, Alex Caraballo, Elliot Rodrigez, Stanley Streeter, Darryl Bradley, Alfredo Vazquez, Darnell Jordan, Andre S. Smith, Allan Small, Naquay Buffert-Smith, Keith Kinsey, Dashawn Cooper, Howard Dunns, William Amaya, Carl Thomas, Julian Hamlett at Atlantic County Justice Facility 5060 Atlantic Ave. Mays Landing, N.J. 08330, Plaintiffs pro se.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

NOEL L. HILLMAN, District Judge.

Thirty-three co-plaintiffs, prisoners confined at Atlantic County Justice Facility in Mays Landing, New Jersey, seek to bring this civil action in forma pauperis, without prepayment of fees or security, asserting claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. These co-plaintiffs challenge various aspects of their confinement, including the lack of a law library or paralegals, the assessment of "rent" charges, high prices at the commissary, and an expensive telephone system. The Complaint is written in the first person singular, e.g., "I don't have access to a paralegal, a computer, law books, " and is signed by Plaintiff Shar-rik S. Molley. An attachment is signed by the additional co-plaintiffs.

A. Joinder Considerations

In Hagan v. Rogers , 570 F.3d 146 (3d Cir. 2009), the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that in forma pauperis prisoners are not categorically barred from joining as coplaintiffs under Rule 20 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 20 provides the following regarding permissive joinder of parties:

(1) Plaintiffs. Persons may join in one action as plaintiffs if:
(A) they assert any right to relief jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and
(B) any question of law or fact common to all plaintiffs will arise in the action.

(2) Defendants. Persons... may be joined in one action as defendants if:

(A) any right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and
(B) any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action.

Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a).

The requirements prescribed by Rule 20(a) are to be liberally construed in the interest of convenience and judicial economy. Swan v. Ray , 293 F.3d 1252, 1253 (11th Cir. 2002). However, the policy of liberal application of Rule 20 is not a license to join unrelated claims and defendants in one lawsuit. See, e.g., Pruden v. SCI Camp Hill , 252 Fed.Appx. 436 (3d Cir. 2007); George v. Smith , 507 F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 2007); Coughlin v. Rogers , 130 F.3d 1348 (9th Cir. 1997).

Pursuant to Rule 21, misjoinder of parties is not a ground for dismissing an action. Instead, a court faced with a complaint improperly joining parties "may at any time, on just terms, add or drop a party. The court may ...


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