United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Kenneth Steven Daywitt, Merel Evans Bishop, and Bet Elohim Congregation, Plaintiffs,
Chad Mesojedec, et al., Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Brisbois United States Magistrate Judge
matter comes before the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge upon routine supervision of the cases that pend before
the Court pursuant to a general assignment made in accordance
with the provision of 28 U.S.C. § 636, and upon
Plaintiffs' Applications to Proceeds in forma pauperis.
[Docket Nos. 2, 3].
Complaint alleges violations of Plaintiffs' religious
rights, Plaintiffs' right to equal protection, and the
Religious Land Use Institutionalized Persons Act. (Compl.
[Docket No. 1]). The Complaint generally concerns how certain
government officials overseeing the Minnesota Sex Offender
Program (hereinafter “MSOP”) have handled
requests made by certain individuals civilly committed to the
MSOP who profess to adhere to Orthodox Judaism.
(See, Id. at 3, 6-11). Plaintiffs contend
that officials' handling of these requests has led to
various legal violations, including violations of the United
States Constitution, the Minnesota Constitution, and the
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000,
42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc to 2000cc-5 (RLUIPA).
(See, Compl., [Docket No. 1], at 12-14).
Court first addresses Plaintiff “Bet Elohim
Congregation.” The Complaint describes the Bet Elohim
Congregation as “the body of believers in which members
of the Jewish community at MSOP-Moose Lake belong to.”
(Compl., [Docket No. 1], at 3). Any claims by Plaintiff Bet
Elohim Congregation in this litigation, as well as, Plaintiff
Bet Elohim Congregation, must be dismissed. Plaintiffs are
not represented here by an attorney-Daywitt and Bishop are
representing themselves pro se, and do not purport to be
lawyers-and it is well established that “pro se
litigants may not represent the interests of other parties in
federal litigation.” Prattville v. Warden of Fed.
Prison Camp, No. 17-cv-5209 (MJD/TNL), 2018 WL 6182593,
at *3 (D. Minn. Aug. 31, 2018) (citing statute and cases),
report and recommendation adopted, 2018 WL 6179512
(D. Minn. Nov. 27, 2018). Daywitt and Bishop may be members
of this congregation, but they cannot represent that separate
party's interests in this matter. See,
Prattville, 2018 WL 6182593, at *3. Daywitt's
and Bishop's claims in this matter going forward are
limited to their own individual claims against Defendants.
the undersigned recommends that any claims by Plaintiff Bet
Elohim Congregation in this action be dismissed without
Court next considers the propriety of the Complaint
proceedings with Plaintiffs Daywitt and Bishop as
co-Plaintiffs. The decision to prosecute this matter as one
lawsuit with two separate plaintiffs creates needless
procedural complexities that are likely to impede the
expedient administration of justice. It is therefore
recommended that this matter be split into two separate
proceedings, one for each plaintiff. See,
Acevedo v. Allsup's Convenience Stores, Inc.,
600 F.3d 516, 521 (5th Cir. 2010) (noting that
“district courts have the discretion to refuse joinder
in the interest of avoiding prejudice and delay, ensuring
judicial economy, or safeguarding principles of fundamental
fairness, ” even where standard for joinder under Rule
20 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is otherwise met.
(citations omitted)). For several reasons, the undersigned
finds this to be the best course of action “to secure
the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of”
this action. See, Fed.R.Civ.P. 1.
both Plaintiff Daywitt and Plaintiff Bishop have applied for
in forma pauperis (“IFP”) status. But it appears
from the financial documents provided to the Court that both
Plaintiffs may not independently qualify financially for IFP
form submitted by Plaintiff Daywitt appears to indicate that
he has averaged $5, 000.00 in employment income and $12,
000.00 in gift based income per month for the past twelve
months. (Plf. Daywitt's IFP Application [Docket No. 2]).
It is difficult to conclude, from the information available
to the Court, that Daywitt would be unable to “afford
the costs of proceeding without undue hardship or deprivation
of the necessities of life.” Ayers v. Texas
Dep't of Criminal Justice, 70 F.3d 1268, 1268 (5th
Cir. 1995) (per curiam).
creates a problem not only for Daywitt, but for Bishop as
well if this matter where to be permitted to proceed as one
lawsuit. On the record presently before the Court, it is
doubtful that Daywitt would be permitted to proceed without
payment of the filing fee if he had brought this matter
alone. If Daywitt cannot proceed IFP, then Bishop may not
proceed IFP if they are jointly prosecuting this matter.
See, Anderson v. California, No. 10-cv-2216
(MMA/AJB), 2010 WL 4316996, at *1 (S.D. Cal. Oct. 27, 2010)
(noting that “if multiple plaintiffs seek to proceed
in forma pauperis, each plaintiff must qualify for
IFP status.”). But it appears Bishop would qualify
financially for IFP status, at least when his applications is
examined separately from Daywitt's application. Severing
the plaintiffs into separate lawsuits will permit the
litigants who are entitled to proceed IFP to do so.
as already noted the Complaint alleges violations of
Religious Rights, Equal Protection, and Religious Land Use
Institutionalized Persons Act. (Compl. [Docket No. 1]). At
its core, the Complaint concerns how certain government
officials overseeing the Minnesota Sex Offender Program
(hereinafter “MSOP”) have handled requests made
by certain individuals civilly committed to the MSOP who
profess to adhere to Orthodox Judaism. (See,
Id. at 3, 6-11). If any requests were made by one of
the individual Plaintiffs, then the application of the law to
that request would differ from the application of that law to
a request by a separate Plaintiff. While Plaintiffs appear to
argue their claims as a single unit, they are individual
Plaintiffs with differing underlying facts. Put another way,
while the legal claims raised by each of the Plaintiffs may
be identical or similar, the facts related to each Plaintiff
will be different.
addition, concerns regarding Rule 11 warrant not allowing
multiple pro se Plaintiffs to proceed together in one action.
Rule 11(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures provides
presenting to the court a pleading, written motion, or other
paper-whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later
advocating it-an attorney or unrepresented party certifies
that to the best of the person's knowledge, information,
and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the
(1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such
as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase
the cost of litigation;
(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are
warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for
extending, modifying, or reversing ...