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Bishop v. Correct Care Solutions LLC

United States District Court, D. Maine

September 19, 2016



          John C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge

         On June 24, 2016, the Court denied Plaintiff Harry Bishop's request for certification of a class of plaintiffs who purportedly have claims against officers and employees of Maine Correctional Center and Correct Care Solutions, but ordered service of Plaintiff's complaint upon certain defendants based on Plaintiff's allegation that the food the Correctional Center provides Plaintiff lacks sufficient nutrition, and based on Plaintiff's assertion that the Correctional Center has deprived him of meaningful access to legal materials and participation in religious services. (ECF No. 24.) Defendants were subsequently served with the complaint.

         The matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Renewed Motion for Class Certification (ECF No. 27), Plaintiff's Motion for Appointment of Class Counsel (ECF No. 28), Plaintiff's Motion to Join Nicholas Gladu (ECF No. 29), and Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 38.)

         Following a review of the motions, and after consideration of the parties' arguments, I recommend the Court deny Plaintiff's renewed motion to certify class, dismiss as moot Plaintiff's motion to appoint class counsel, deny Plaintiff's motion to join, and grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment.


         In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged (1) that Defendant Correct Care Solutions routinely denies necessary medical care to inmates, and (2) that administrators of the Maine Correctional Center serve inadequate food portions with insufficient nutritional value, deny inmates access to legal resources and assistance, and deny Native American inmates access to monthly sacred pipe ceremonies. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff also filed a motion to certify a class of plaintiffs. (ECF No. 2.)

         The Court denied without prejudice Plaintiff's motion to certify a class. (ECF No. 24.) The Court also dismissed the claims against Correct Care Solutions because Plaintiff did not allege that he had a medical condition that required treatment. (Id.) The Court authorized service on the remaining Defendants[2] on Plaintiff's claims for injunctive relief regarding nutrition, [3] access to legal materials, and participation in religious ceremonies.

         On July 11, 2016, Plaintiff requested the Court appoint counsel initially for the purpose of presenting a motion to certify a class. (ECF No. 27/28.) Plaintiff contends the appointment is warranted because he lacks sufficient legal knowledge, access to legal materials and access to other prisoners to prepare a proper request for class certification. (ECF No. 28.)

         Along with his motion for counsel, Plaintiff filed a motion co-signed by inmate Nicholas Gladu, in which motion Plaintiff and Mr. Gladu request that Mr. Gladu be joined in the action because Plaintiff was “due to be released from custody in less than [two] weeks.” (ECF No. 29.) According to the motion, Mr. Gladu would assert the claims originally alleged in Plaintiff's complaint. (Id.) Mr. Gladu requests the Court's assistance “with obtaining information on consent decrees and/or court orders that have been entered against Maine Department of Corrections … and Correct Care Solutions, ” including their employees. (ECF No. 29-2.)

         On July 26, 2016, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. Through the motion, Defendants argue the Plaintiff's claims are moot because he has been released from the custody of the Department of Corrections. (ECF No. 38.)


         A. Plaintiff's Motion to Join (ECF No. 29)

         Plaintiff and Mr. Gladu, an inmate at the Correctional Center, seek to join Mr. Gladu as a plaintiff in this action. In support of the request, Plaintiff and Mr. Gladu asserted that Plaintiff was due to be released from custody, and that Mr. Gladu is confined “under the exact circumstances alleged by [Plaintiff].” (ECF No. 29 at 1, ¶¶ 1 - 2.)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20 permits plaintiffs to join in one action 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. “The purpose of the rule is ‘to promote trial convenience and expedite the final determination of disputes, thereby preventing multiple lawsuits.'” Arista Records LLC v. Does 1- 27, 584 F.Supp.2d 240, 251 (D. Me. 2008) (quoting 7 Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1652 (3d ed. 2001)).

         Here, neither Plaintiff nor Mr. Gladu has asserted any facts regarding Mr. Gladu's potential claims. Plaintiff's bald assertion that Mr. Gladu is confined under the same circumstances as Plaintiff is insufficient. That is, to the extent Rule 20 applies to the motion, the Court cannot assess whether Plaintiff can satisfy the requirements of Rule 20.

         Although Plaintiff requested to “join” Mr. Gladu as a plaintiff, Rule 20 does not necessarily govern Plaintiff's request. Given that Plaintiff was scheduled to be released from custody soon after the filing of the motion, and perhaps recognizing that Plaintiff's claims would be moot, the motion is in essence an attempt by Plaintiff to substitute Mr. Gladu as the plaintiff. The Court can substitute a party plaintiff in the limited circumstances described in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25, i.e., upon the death or incompetency of the original party, upon a party's transfer of a legal interest to another, and upon the replacement of a public officer appearing in an official capacity. Fed.R.Civ.P. 25 (a) - (d). Because none of the circumstances that support substitution is present in this ...

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