United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Statesboro Division
ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
BENJAMIN W. CHEESBRO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE SOUTHERN
DISTRICT OF GEORGIA.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Class Certification. Doc. 49. For the reasons which follow, I
RECOMMEND the Court DENY
filed his initial 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Complaint on April
21, 2016, naming five Defendants: Nathan Deal; Homer Bryson;
Valient Lyte; Stanley Williams; and Tiffany Henry. Doc. 1.
Plaintiff claimed the named Defendants violated his rights
under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons
Act (“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1 et
seq by preventing his religious mail from coming into
the prison. Id. Following the requisite frivolity
review, Plaintiff's claims against Deal and Bryson were
dismissed in their entirety and some, but not all, of the
claims against the remaining three Defendants were dismissed.
Docs. 8, 14. Defendants Lyte, Williams, and Henry moved to
dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint based on Plaintiff's
failure to exhaust his available administrative remedies and
failure to state a claim. Doc. 16. The Court granted
Defendants' motion on both bases. Docs. 27, 29. Plaintiff
filed a notice of appeal. Doc. 31.
appeal, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals determined
Plaintiff, who had not previously amended his Complaint but
had requested leave to do so prior to Defendants' filing
of their motion to dismiss, had the right to amend as a
matter of course. Doc. 36 at 4. The Eleventh Circuit found
this Court erred by not granting Plaintiff leave to amend as
a matter of course, vacated this Court's dismissal of
Plaintiff's Complaint, and remanded the case back to this
Court. Id. In addition to his Amended Complaint,
doc. 48, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion for Class
Certification. Doc. 49.
who is proceeding pro se, asserts there are more than 200
Christian inmates at Georgia State Prison; thus, they all
have the same claims as he has asserted against Defendants.
Id. at 1. Plaintiff contends these claims should not
be hard to prove based on the facts he sets forth in his
Amended Complaint, and Defendants brag about sending
religious mail back “without notice.”
is plain error to permit [an] imprisoned litigant who is
unassisted by counsel to represent his fellow inmates in a
class action.” See Wallace v. Smith, 145
Fed.Appx. 300, 302
Cir. 2005) (quoting Oxendine v. Williams, 509 F.2d
1405, 1407 (4th Cir. 1975)); citing Massimo v.
Henderson, 468 F.2d 1209, 1210 (5th Cir. 1972)
(affirming dismissal of the portion of petitioner's
complaint seeking relief on behalf of fellow inmates). As the
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has observed:
1An individual unquestionably has the right to litigate his
own claims in federal court, before both the district and
appellate courts . . . The right to litigate for oneself,
however, does not create a coordinate right to litigate for
others. See Oxendine v. Williams, 509 F.2d 1405,
1407 (4th Cir. 1975) (holding that a pro se prisoner may not
litigate the interests of other prisoners in class action).
The reasoning behind this rule is two-fold: it protects the
rights of those before the court, see id.
(“the competence of a layman [litigating for] himself
[is] clearly too limited to allow him to risk the rights of
others”), and jealously guards the judiciary's
authority to govern those who practice in its courtrooms.
See Collinsgru v. Palmyra Bd. of Educ., 161 F.3d
225, 231 (3d Cir. 1998) (“Requiring a minimum level of
competence protects not only the [client] but also his or her
adversaries and the court from poorly drafted, inarticulate,
and vexatious claims.”).
Myers v. Loudoun Cty. Pub. Sch., 418 F.3d 395, 400
(4th Cir. 2005). Simply put, incarcerated pro se litigants
may not bring a class action on behalf of other prisoners.
See Fymbo v. State Fire & Cas. Co., 213 F.3d
1320, 1321 (10th Cir. 2002) (holding that a pro se litigant
“cannot adequately represent [a] putative
class”); Ibarra v. GEO Grp., Inc., No.
5:16-CV-55, 2016 WL 7242575, at *3 (S.D. Ga. Nov. 3, 2016),
report and recommendation adopted, No. 5:16-CV-55,
2016 WL 7242720 (S.D. Ga. Dec. 14, 2016); Walker v.
Brown, No. CV 112-105, 2012 WL 4049438, at *1-2 (S.D.
Ga. Aug. 14, 2012), report and recommendation
adopted, No. CV 112-105, 2012 WL 4052038 (S.D. Ga. Sept.
13, 2012). Even if Plaintiff met the Rule 23 requirements
necessary for class certification, he cannot litigate the
interests of other prisoner-litigants.
on the foregoing, I RECOMMEND the Court
DENY Plaintiff's Motion for Class
Court ORDERS any party seeking to object to
this Report and Recommendation to file specific written
objections within 14 days of the date on
which this Report and Recommendation is entered. Any
objections asserting that the Magistrate Judge failed to
address any contention raised in the Complaint must also be
included. Failure to do so will bar any later challenge or
review of the factual findings or legal conclusions of the
Magistrate Judge. See 28 U.S.C. § ...