United States District Court, D. Kansas
JEFFREY J. SPERRY, Plaintiff,
LINDSEY WILDERMUTH, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CROW U.S. SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE
a state prisoner appearing pro se and in forma
pauperis, brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights
Nature of the Matter before the Court
is an inmate at the El Dorado Correctional Facility
(“EDCF”) in El Dorado, Kansas. He previously
resided at the Lansing Correctional Facility
(“LCF”) in Lansing, Kansas, but was transferred
to EDCF as a result of his placement in administrative
segregation. Mr. Sperry describes the nature of his case as
follows: “In September 2015, prison officials started
targeting plaintiff for mistreatment and retaliation. The
KDOC has a system established where every member in the
administration conspires with every other member to violate
the constitutional and civil rights of plaintiff and every
other inmate.” Doc. #25 at 4. According to Plaintiff,
he became a target in part because of his activities as a
jailhouse lawyer on behalf of himself and other inmates.
After his general description of his case, he proceeds to
bring fourteen counts. To summarize, Plaintiff claims: (1) he
was illegally placed in administrative segregation for 17
months; (2) he was held for just over two months of his
segregation in a cell infested with roaches; (3) he has been
systematically prevented from getting an 8-hour period of
continuous sleep since January 25, 2016, when he was
transferred to segregation at EDCF; (4) he has not received
treatment for his Hepatitis-C infection; (5) Defendants have
illegally seized two of Plaintiff's books, three
periodicals, and one photograph; (6) he was denied access to
the law library while he was held in administrative
segregation; (7) and (8) some of Plaintiff's personal
property, including some of his legal materials, was
illegally seized when he was moved to segregation; (9) he has
not received interest on his inmate account since January of
2012; (10) none of the 25 disciplinary hearings he has
received while incarcerated have been fair, unbiased, or
properly documented; (11) the prison grievance system is
meaningless and manipulated by Defendants to automatically
deny all relief and to create obstacles between prisoners and
judicial review; (12) he was denied all of his rights while
housed in administrative segregation; (13) the privatizing of
the prison canteen service has resulted in higher prices and
inferior products, and the prison canteen began unlawfully
charging sales tax in 2015; and (14) the Brothers in Blue
program is a religious program illegally promoted and funded
by prison officials.
Sperry names 24 defendants and requests injunctive and
declaratory relief, as well as compensatory and punitive
Magistrate Judge Waxse previously ordered Plaintiff to file
an amended complaint due to the improper joinder of claims.
See Doc. #9. Mr. Sperry filed a motion for
reconsideration (Doc. #10), which Judge Waxse denied (Doc.
#13). Mr. Sperry then filed an interlocutory appeal of the
order denying his motion for reconsideration with the Tenth
Circuit Court of Appeals. His appeal was dismissed for lack
of jurisdiction as a magistrate's order is not directly
appealable to the Tenth Circuit. See Doc. #18.
dismissal of his appeal, Mr. Sperry filed a 24-page, typed,
single-spaced amended complaint. His original complaint was
52 handwritten pages. In complete disregard of Judge
Waxse's order, the amended complaint contains the same 14
counts and names the same 24 defendants as the original
complaint. Plaintiff made some minor changes in wording but
offers no justification for disregarding the previous order
nor any new arguments as to why claims involving entirely
different incidents and defendants are properly joined.
consideration of Mr. Sperry's pro se status, the
Court will make one more attempt to explain the joinder rules
and why the amended complaint does not comply.
Rules of Civil Procedure 18, 20, and 21 govern joinder and
misjoinder of parties and claims. Rule 20(a)(2) allows a
plaintiff to join multiple defendants in one action “if
the claims against them arise out of the same transaction or
occurrence and there is a common question of law or fact
linking the claims together.” Nasious v. City and
County of Denver - Denver Sheriff's Dept., 415 F.
App'x 877, 880 (10th Cir. 2011).
“Misjoinder [under Rule 21], on the other hand, occurs
when there is no common question of law or fact or when . . .
the events that give rise to the plaintiff's claims
against defendants do not stem from the same
transaction.” Id., quoting DirecTV, Inc. v.
Leto, 467 F.3d 842, 844 (3d Cir. 2006).
Rule 18(a) provides that “[a] party asserting a claim .
. . may join, as independent or alternative claims, as many
claims as it has against an opposing party, ” the
analysis under Rule 20 precedes the analysis under
Rule 18. “Despite the broad language of Rule 18(a),
plaintiff may join multiple defendants in a single action
only if plaintiff asserts at least one claim to relief
against each of them that arises out of the same transaction
or occurrence and presents questions of law or fact common to
all.” Redmon v. Zavaras, No. 09-cv-02133-BNB,
2009 WL 4059188, at *4 (D. Colo. Nov. 20, 2009) (quoting 7
Charles Allen Wright, Arthur R. Miller, Mary Kay Kane,
Federal Practice & Procedure Civil 3d § 1655).
Stated another way, Plaintiff must show that all 24
defendants “participated in the same transaction or
series of transactions” upon which at least one his
claims is based. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607
(7th Cir. 2007).
the rules to Mr. Sperry's complaint, the fundamental
problem is that no one claim implicates all 24 defendants.
Mr. Sperry has not asserted any claim against all 24
defendants that “arises out of the same transaction or
occurrence and presents questions of law or fact common to
all” as required by Rule 20.
Sperry's allegations in the amended complaint can be
grouped into the following transactions or occurrences: (1)
his assignment to administrative segregation, conditions he
endured while there, and other alleged violations of his
rights that occurred as a result of his transfer to ad seg
(Counts I, II, III, VI, VII, VIII, XII); (2) the lack of
treatment for his Hepatitis-C infection (Count IV); (3)
seizure or censorship of some of his reading materials (Count
V); (4) the failure of prisoners to receive interest on their
prison financial accounts since 2012 (Count IX); (5) the
disciplinary hearing process in general, spanning his entire
twenty years of incarceration (Count X); (6) the grievance
system in general (Count XI); (7) privatization of the prison
canteen service (Count XII); and (8) the implementation and
promotion of the Brothers in Blue program (Count IV).
none of these “transactions or occurrences”
implicates all 24 defendants. Consequently, Plaintiff's
amended complaint fails to comply with the joinder rules and
cannot go forward as filed. To allow this “mishmash of
a complaint” to proceed as filed would result in a
“morass” and would also effectively allow
Plaintiff to bring five lawsuits for the price of one.
George, 507 F.3d at 607. Giving the rules a very
broad reading, there is at least some argument that Counts I,
II, III, V, VI, VII, VIII, X, XI, and XII may be brought in
one lawsuit, given Plaintiff's overarching allegation
that a retaliatory motive underlies the actions of KDOC
personnel. However, Counts IV, IX, XII, and IV arise out of
completely different occurrences, involve entirely different
facts, and are thus improperly joined to the first set of
counts or to each other. The only way all of Mr. Sperry's
claims could ...