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Smith v. Madison County Sheriff's Department

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

October 22, 2019

DEON DASHON SMITH and JOHN JUNIOR FERRELL, Plaintiffs,
v.
MADISON COUNTY SHERIFF'S, DEPARTMENT, Defendant.

          ORDER SEVERING CASES, GRANTING PLAINTIFF SMITH LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AND ASSESSING $350 FILING FEE IN ACCORDANCE WITH PLRA, DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND

          JAMES D. TODD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On September 11, 2019, Plaintiffs Deon Dashon Smith and John Junior Ferrell, who are incarcerated at the Madison County Criminal Justice Complex (CJC) in Jackson, Tennessee, filed a joint pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) Both Plaintiffs signed the complaint, but only Smith has filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis and a copy of his prison trust account statement. (ECF No. 2.)

         It is not practicable for multiple pro se inmates to litigate their claims in a single action, even if their claims are similar. Therefore, the Court hereby SEVERS the claims of Plaintiff John Junior Ferrell. The Clerk is DIRECTED to open a new civil action for Plaintiff Ferrell and to docket in the new action a copy of the complaint and this order. This case will proceed with Plaintiff Smith as the sole plaintiff.

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b), a prisoner bringing a civil action must pay the filing fee required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a).[1]Although the obligation to pay the fee accrues at the moment the case is filed, see McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 605 (6th Cir. 1997), partially overruled on other grounds by LaFountain v. Harry, 716 F.3d 944, 951 (6th Cir. 2013), the PLRA provides the prisoner the opportunity to make a “down payment” of a partial filing fee and pay the remainder in installments. Id. at 604. In this case, Smith has properly submitted an in forma pauperis affidavit and a certification of his trust account statement as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2). The motion to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED in accordance with the terms of the PLRA.

         Accordingly, Smith is ORDERED to cooperate fully with prison officials in carrying out this order. It is ORDERED that the trust account officer at Smith's prison shall calculate and submit to the Clerk of Court a partial initial filing fee equal to twenty percent (20%) of the greater of the average balance in or deposits to Smith's trust account for the six months immediately preceding the completion of the affidavit. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).

         It is further ORDERED that after the initial partial filing fee is fully paid, the trust account officer shall withdraw from Smith's trust account and submit to the Clerk monthly payments equal to twenty percent (20%) of all deposits credited to Smith's account during the preceding month, but only when the amount in the account exceeds $10, until Smith's $350.00 share of the civil filing fee is paid.

         Each time the trust account officer makes a payment to the Court as required by this order, he shall submit to the Clerk along with the payment a copy of the prisoner's account statement showing all activity in the account since the last payment under this order. All payments and account statements should be sent to:

Clerk, United States District Court, Western District of Tennessee, 111 S. Highland Ave., Rm. 262, Jackson, TN 38301 and shall clearly identify Smith's name and the case number as included on the first page of this order.

         If Smith is transferred to a different prison or released, he is ORDERED to notify the Court immediately, in writing, of his change of address. If still confined, he shall provide the officials at the new facility with a copy of this order. If Smith fails to abide by these or any other requirements of this order, the Court may impose appropriate sanctions, up to and including dismissal of this action, without any additional notice or hearing by the Court.

         The Clerk shall mail a copy of this order to the official in charge of trust fund accounts at Smith's prison.

         The complaint also is before the Court for screening. Smith sues the Madison County Sheriff's Department. His allegations are as follows:

The issues are concerning the living condition of the CJC. Their [sic] isn't enough living room, beds or mats. There is black mold and mildrew [sic] in our cells & shower. Also the floors and walls. There is 4 people to a cell that only has two bunks. We are also locked in our cells 72 hrs. at a time without showers or communication with the outside world.

(ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) Smith seeks condemnation of the CJC and $1 million in damages. (Id. at PageID 3.)

         The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any ...


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