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Bronson v. Leedon

July 24, 2006

PURCELL BRONSON, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
C.O. LEEDON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge

(JUDGE CAPUTO)

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court are Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Action Status (Doc. 110), Motion to Compel Discovery (Doc. 115) and Motion to Leave to File a Supplemental Complaint (Doc. 17). The Court will address each motion in turn.

1. Class Action Status

On August 23, 2004, Purcell Bronson and Leon Harris commenced a section 1983 action. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiffs are inmates at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill. In this motion, Plaintiffs seek to join "numerous prisoners who have been confined and are confined, to the SMU (Special Management Unit), who were assault[ ], starved, starved to death, and killed by SMU guards" ("Class"). (Doc.121 at 1.)

Under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 23, a class action can only be certifed once all four of the following requirements are met: (1) numerosity; (2) commonality; (3) typicality; and (4) adequacy of representation. See Amchem Prod., Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 613 (1997). In evaluating the ability of the class representatives to "fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class" under FED. R. CIV. P. 23(a)(4), the Court must determine that the interests of the named plaintiffs are sufficiently aligned with those of the absentees and that the class counsel is qualified. Georgine v. Amchem Prods., 83 F.3d 610, 630 (3d Cir. 1996), aff'd by Amchem, 521 U.S. 591.

Pro se plaintiffs without any legal training are generally not permitted to represent a class. Owens v. Horn, No. 02-0356, at 2 (M.D. Pa. May 17, 2004) (citing Nilsson v. Coughlin, 670 F. Supp. 1186, 1191 (S.D.N.Y. 1987); Jeffery v. Malcolm, 353 F. Supp. 395, 397 (S.D.N.Y. 1973); Davis v. City of Portsmouth, 579 F. Supp. 1205, 1208 (E.D. Va. 1983), aff'd without op., 742 F.2d 1448 (4th Cir. 1984);and Ethnic Awareness Org. v. Gagnon,568 F. Supp. 1186, 1187 (E.D. Wis. 1983)). Plaintiffs Bronson and Harris seek to represent the Class. The Court is concerned with the ability of the named Plaintiffs in providing adequate legal representation to the interests of the proposed Class. The Court has spoken on this matter previously:

Although Plaintiff has demonstrated a willingness to pursue his claims to the best of his abilities given his limited resources and lack of formal legal training, a class action lawsuit is not a simple matter to pursue. Given that the outcome of a class action is binding on the entire class, not just the lead plaintiff, I am not prepared to say that Plaintiff is legally qualified to represent the interests of an entire class.

Owens, No.02-0356, at 3 (citing Owen v. Horn, No. 02-0356 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 11, 2002)).

Plaintiffs have failed to satisfy the requirements of FED. R. CIV. P. 23(a)(4).

Therefore, Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Action Status (Doc.110) will be denied.

2. Discovery

Plaintiffs filed this motion asking the Court to compel Defendants to answer Plaintiffs' requests for production of documents, interrogatories and admissions. (Doc. 115.) Plaintiffs specifically contend that Defendants have failed to respond to their second set of request for documents, fourth request for admission and second set of request for interrogatories.

(Doc. 116 at 1.) These are the same requests addressed in Plaintiffs' previous motion to compel discovery (Doc. 58), which was addressed by Magistrate Judge J. Andrew Smyser on September 26, 2005. (Doc.103 at 11-13.) In that Order, the Magistrate Judge ...


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