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Bumpers v. Formica

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

August 1, 2014

MATTHEW BUMPERS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
FRANK D. FORMICA, et al., Defendants.

OPINION

ROBERT B. KUGLER, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs, Matthew Bumpers, Keith Stratton, Jr., Marcus Hopwell, Jonathan D. Anderson, Erving Johnson and Javon Figueroa are incarcerated at the Atlantic County Justice Facility in Mays Landing, New Jersey. They are proceeding pro se with a civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs have not paid the filing fee and only Bumpers has submitted an application to proceed in forma pauperis.

At this time, the Court must review the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A to determine whether it should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from suit. For the reasons set forth below, the amended complaint will be dismissed.

II. MULTIPLE PLAINTIFFS

Before screening the complaint, the Court must address a procedural issue associated with this case. As stated above, several plaintiffs have signed the complaint. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20 governs the permissible joinder of plaintiffs and states in relevant part:

(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.

FED. R. CIV. P. 20(a)(1). Joinder under Rule 20 is discretionary and when the Court exercises that discretion, it "must provide a reasoned analysis that comports with the requirement of the Rule, and that is based on the specific fact pattern presented by the plaintiffs and claims before the court." Hagan v. Rogers, 570 F.3d 146, 157 (3d Cir. 2009).

In this case, only one plaintiff, Bumpers, has submitted an application to proceed in forma pauperis. Where more than one prisoner seeks to join in a complaint against a government official or entity, the plaintiffs may prepay a single $400.00 filing fee or seek in forma pauperis status. See Hagan v. Rogers, 570 F.3d 146, 150 (3d Cir. 2009); Miller v. New Jersey, No. 13-2018, 2013 WL 2149692, at *2 (D.N.J. May 16, 2013) (citations omitted). In the event that multiple prisoners seek to join as plaintiffs and they do not prepay the $400.00 filing fee, then each plaintiff must submit a complete application to proceed in forma pauperis if he desires the complaint to be filed on his behalf. See Hagan, 570 F.3d at 154-55. In that situation, if the Court permits more than one prisoner to join as a plaintiff under Rule 20, then the Court is required to collect a $350.00[1] filing fee from each prisoner-plaintiff by directing the agency having custody of each prisoner to deduce the filing fee in monthly installments from each prisoner's account as if each prisoner were filing his own individual complaint. See id. at 155-56.

In this case, no plaintiff besides Bumpers submitted an application to proceed in forma pauperis. The other plaintiffs may not have known about the filing fee requirement. Thus, these plaintiffs will be administratively terminated from this action and the Court will screen the complaint as it relates to Bumpers only.[2]

III. BACKGROUND

The allegations of the complaint will be construed as true for purposes of this screening. Plaintiff names as defendants the Freeholders of Atlantic County, specifically: (1) Frank D. Formica; (2) Joseph J. McDevitt; (3) ...


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