United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
November 18, 2005.
MICHAEL J ASCENZI, Plaintiff,
DR. R. DIAZ, ET AL., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: THOMAS VANASKIE, Chief Judge
Michael J. Ascenzi, an inmate at the Retreat State Correctional
Institution ("SCI-Retreat"), Hunlock Creek, Pennsylvania, filed
this civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on
August 15, 2005. In his complaint, Ascenzi asserts deliberate
indifference to medical conditions while housed at the Luzerne
County Prison and then SCI-Retreat. He names the following
SCI-Retreat medical personnel as defendants: Dr. Diaz and J.
Mataloni, SCI-Retreat's Corrections Health Care Administrator.
Dr. Gunnar Kosek, a physician at the Luzerne County Prison, is
also named as a defendant. (Dkt. Entry 1.) On November 16, 2005,
Plaintiff filed "an amendment" to his complaint which addresses
more recent events related to his desire for a bottom bunk
designation for medical reasons. (Dkt. Entry 12.) Because Ascenzi's complaint and amendment do not satisfy the
requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) and Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 20(a), he will be given the opportunity
to file an amended complaint which must comport with the
requirements of these rules. Failure to do so will result in the
dismissal of this action.
Rule 8(a) requires that a plaintiff provide a "short, plain
statement" of his claims. As the word "Rule" implies, Rule 8 is
not merely aspirational; if a complaint does not comply with the
Rule, it may be stricken. See Nagel v. Pocono Med. Ctr.,
168 F.R.D. 22, 23 (M.D.Pa. 1996) (citing Simmons v. Abruzzo,
49 F.3d 83, 86 (2d Cir. 1995)).
The instant complaint is over eight pages long (not including
the attachments to it or his recent the supplemental filing),
names three defendants from different correctional systems
(county and state), and consists of several long paragraphs that
span entire pages and concern multiple events within each
paragraph. While it is clear that Ascenzi is asserting an Eighth
Amendment challenge to his medical care, the complaint and
amendment are unclear as to the alleged actions, or involvement,
of each defendant in each of the alleged violations. It would be
difficult, if not impossible, to attempt to (1) define all the
claims raised by Ascenzi (some of which are related to the denial
of specific medical treatment while some aver that he is being
denied access to medical care); (2) delineate which defendants
are alleged to be involved with each claim; and (3) establish the facts upon which Ascenzi
relies to support each claim.*fn1 A clear picture of the
individual actions and claims against each defendants would be a
benefit to all.
Furthermore, the Court has some concern that Ascenzi is
attempting to join various defendants, related or not, in one
lawsuit. This would violate Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a). Rule 20 sets
forth the proper test for determining whether parties are
properly joined in an action. In pertinent part, the Rule
(a) Permissive Joinder. All persons . . . may be
joined in one action as defendants if there is
asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the
alternative, any right to relief in respect of or
arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or
series of transactions or occurrences and if any
question of law or fact common to all defendants will
arise in the action. A plaintiff or defendant need
not be interested in obtaining or defending against
all the relief demanded. Judgment may be given for
one or more of the plaintiffs according to their
respective rights to relief, and against one or more
defendants according to their respective liabilities.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a) (emphasis added). Courts have broad
discretion in applying Rule 20 to reduce inconvenience, delay,
and added expense to the parties and to the court, and to promote judicial economy. 7 Charles Alan Wright et al., Federal
Practice and Procedure § 1653 at 410-12 (3d ed. 2001). At this
point it is unclear whether all three of the named defendants,
who are employed at various types correctional facilities (county
and state) are properly joined in this action.
Based on the foregoing, and in the interests of justice to this
pro se litigant, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
520-21 (1972), Ascenzi will be granted twenty days to submit an
amended complaint which satisfies the requirements of Rules 8 and
20. The amended complaint shall set forth each claim separately
and name only the defendants in each claim that Plaintiff seeks
to hold liable for that claim. The allegations that support each
claim shall also be set forth in separate, numbered sentences,
rather than in three long unbroken paragraphs.
Ascenzi is also advised that the "amended complaint must be
complete in all respects. It must be a new pleading which stands
by itself as an adequate complaint without reference to the
complaint already filed." Young v. Keohane, 809 F.Supp. 1185,
1198 (M.D. Pa. 1992). Failure to file an appropriate amended
complaint will result in the dismissal of his action without prejudice. An appropriate Order is attached. ORDER
AND NOW, this 18th day of November, 2005, for the reasons set
forth in the accompanying Memorandum, it is ORDERED that:
1. Within twenty (20) days of the date of this Order,
Ascenzi may file an amended complaint in accordance
with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(a) and 20(a).
2. Failure to submit such an amended complaint will
result in the dismissal of this action, without
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