United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
B. SARIS, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
reasons set forth below, the Court (1) grants Jones'
Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and defers the
assessment of the filing fee until the Court receives a copy
of Jones' certified prison account statement; (2) denies
CFB's Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and
provides CFB additional time for counsel to enter an
appearance; (3) finds that Jones will be the sole plaintiff
unless LeBaron either pays the filing fee or moves to proceed
in forma pauperis with a claim asserting an imminent
danger of serious physical injury; (4) denies without
prejudice the Emergency Motion for TRO to Enforce All
Doctors' Orders and RLUIPA Religious Exercise; (5)
directs the Clerk to issue summons as to the identified
defendants only; and (6) requests a Status Report from legal
counsel for the Massachusetts Department of Correction and
Nathan Marquis LeBaron (“LeBaron”) and Stephen
Jones (“Jones”), prisoners at MCI Norfolk, bring
this civil rights action against various prison medical and
administrative staff, and others, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 (civil action for deprivation of rights), 42
U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a) (Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act), and 42 U.S.C. § 12131
(Americans With Disabilities Act). Also named as plaintiff is
the non-profit corporation Church of the Firstborn Kahal
Hab'Cor (“CFB”). Plaintiffs seek monetary
damages as well as declaratory and injunctive relief.
to the complaint, the inmates at MCI Norfolk are denied
adequate drinking water. The complaint alleges, among other
things, that inspections by the Massachusetts Department of
Environmental Protection (“DEP”) found repeat
health and safety violations at MCI Norfolk in 2015. The
complaint alleges that the water is often black or brown,
indicating high levels of lead, cooper and other
contaminants. At such times, inmates are sometimes instructed
not to drink the water or shower, and bottled water is
provided only to prison employees and to the dogs who are
being trained for the National Education for Assistance Dog
the complaint alleges that Jones arrived at MCI Norfolk on
October 14, 2016, shortly after receiving a transplanted
liver. Although Jones takes medication to prevent rejection
of the recently transplanted organ, plaintiffs ask the Court
to order the defendants to provide Jones with (1) the
medications Eucarin and Gabepentin, (2) distilled drinking
water and (3) a bottom bunk pass. Plaintiffs contend that the
water treatment methods cause adverse effects on the prison
population and presents a greater risk to Jones, who cannot
afford to purchase bottled water and whose request for
distilled water was denied.
the complaint alleges that Jones and LeBaron are members of
the Church of the Firstborn Kahal Hab'Cor (the
"CFB") and that the contaminated water conflicts
with their access to a “Holy Diet” as prescribed
by the CFB.
the complaint, plaintiffs' filed a one-page
“Emergency Motion for TRO to Enforce ALL Doctors'
Orders and RLUIPA Religious Exercise” and supporting
Memorandum of Law. Also filed was CFB's one-page motion
to proceed in forma pauperis.
March 7, 2017, Stephen Jones filed a motion to proceed
in forma pauperis.
The Claims by Plaintiff CFB are Subject to
Dismissal because a Corporation Cannot Proceed
initial matter, the Court notes that corporations are unable
to appear pro se, and the Court will not recognize
the appearance of a firm or corporation unless it is
accompanied by the appearance of at least one attorney.
District of Massachusetts Local Rule 83.5.5(c) (providing
that “[a] corporation, partnership, limited liability
company, trust, estate, or other entity that is not an
individual may not appear pro se.”); Rowland v.
California Men's Colony, Unit II Men's Advisory
Council, 506 U.S. 194, 199-206 (1993) (recognizing the
majority rule that prohibits corporations, partnerships and
associations from appearing in federal court “otherwise
than through a licensed attorney, ” and linking the
right to proceed in forma pauperis to this
limitation, concluding that an association of prison inmates
did not qualify as a “person” under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915, 42 U.S.C. § 1983); Instituto de
Educacion Universal Corp. v. United States Dep't of
Educ., 209 F.3d 18 (1st Cir. 2000) (distinguishing rule
that corporation must be represented by counsel by holding
that corporate officer may sign notice of appeal, so long as
counsel is retained promptly to prosecute the appeal);
Volumetric Imaging, Inc. v. Teledyne, Inc., 194
F.R.D. 373, 375 (D. Mass. 2000) (“Corporations, despite
their pervasive role in our modem society, are not human
beings. Although we are prone to regard them as living
entities, they are only creatures of the state subject to
government regulation and control. One of the time-hallowed
restrictions on corporations has been that, in court
proceedings, they must be represented by a licensed attorney.
There is nothing unfair, illegal or unconstitutional in this
prohibition against corporations appearing pro se
equally applies to non-profit corporations. United We
Stand Am., Inc. v. United We Stand, Am. N. Y., 128 F.3d
86, 88 (2d Cir. 1997) (reasoning that default was entered
against a nonprofit organization when its counsel withdrew
and the organization failed to substitute new counsel as per
the court's order). Even if the non-profit corporation is
composed of members who are currently imprisoned and it
benefits prisoners, an attorney must still represent the
corporation. Taylor v. Knapp, 871 F.2d 803, 806 (9th
Cir. 1989) (acknowledging that a limited exception exists for
a closely held corporation with one sole shareholder).
Nathan Marguis LeBaron seeks to bring suit on behalf of CFB.
However, LeBaron may act pro se only on his own
behalf, and he may not represent the interests of CFB because
he is not alleged to be a duly-licensed attorney.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1654 (appearance personally or
by counsel); District of Massachusetts Local Rule 83.5.5(a)
(providing that “[a]n individual who is not represented
by counsel and ...