United States District Court, District of Columbia
L. Ruther, Plaintiff,
Kentucky et ah, Defendants.
matter is before the Court on its initial review of plaintiff
spro se complaint and application for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis. Pro se litigants must
comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Jarrell
v. Tisch, 656 F.Supp. 237, 239 (D.D.C. 1987). Rule 8(a)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires complaints
to contain "(1) a short and plain statement of the
grounds for the court's jurisdiction [and] (2) a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a); see Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009); Ciralsky v.
CIA, 355 F.3d 661, 668-71 (D.C. Cir. 2004). The Rule 8
standard ensures that defendants receive fair notice of the
claim being asserted so that they can prepare a responsive
answer and an adequate defense and determine whether the
doctrine of res judicata applies. Brown v.
Califano, 75 F.R.D. 497, 498 (D.D.C. 1977). It also
assists the Court in determining whether it has jurisdiction
over the subject matter.
has submitted a one-page cryptically worded document, which
has been construed liberally as a Complaint [Dkt. # 1]. The
content is largely incomprehensible and thus provides no
notice of a claim. Additionally, plaintiff is no stranger to
this Court, having had numerous cases dismissed without
prejudice for inadequate pleading under Rule 8(a). See,
e.g., Ruther v. Wells Fargo, No. 19-cv-937
(UNA) (D.D.C. May 2, 2019); Ruther v. Kentucky, No.
19-cv-1043 (UNA) (D.D.C. Apr. 30, 2019); Ruther v.
Democratic Nat'l Committee, No. 19-cv- 1068 (D.D.C.
Apr. 30, 2019); Ruther v. Morgan & Moran PA, No.
19-cv-341 (UNA) (D.D.C. Feb. 28, 2019); Ruther v.
Canada, No. 18-840 (UNA) (D.D.C. May 16, 2018),
qff'd, No. 18- 7088 (D.C. Cir. Sept. 7, 2018);
Ruther v. United States of America, No. 17-1116
(UNA) (D.D.C. June 30, 2017); Ruther v. Common Collect
LLC, No. 17-cv-1405, 2017 WL 6551194 (D.D.C. Aug. 14,
2017), aff'd sub nom, Ruther v. Gash, 707 Fed.
App'x. 3 (Mem.) (D.C. Cir. 2017) (per curiam). Beginning
in 2018, some of the dismissal orders included the following
Plaintiff has been allowed to file numerous civil cases in
this court without prepaying the filing fee. Many, if not
all, have been dismissed for inadequate pleading under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), and not once has
plaintiff amended the complaint in accordance with Rule 8.
"Leave to file a claim in forma pauperis has
always been a matter of grace, a privilege granted in the
court's discretion . . ., and denied in the court's
discretion when that privilege has been abused by filing
claims or appeals that are frivolous or otherwise not taken
in good faith." Ibrahim v. District of
Columbia, 208 F.3d 1032, 1036 (D.C. Cir. 2000)
(citations omitted). Plaintiff is hereby advised that his
persistent filing of nonconforming complaints may result
ultimately in the Court enjoining him from proceeding in
forma pauperis. See Hurt v. Social Security Admin., 544
F.3d 308, 310 (D.C. Cir. 2008); Butler v. Dep't of
Justice, 492 F.3d 440, 446 (D.C. Cir. 2007).
Ruther v. Tennessee, No. 18-cv-1180 (UNA) (D.D.C.
June 7, 2018); Ruther v. Georgia, No. 18-cv-1181
(UNA) (D.D.C. May 31, 2018); Ruther v. W. Virginia,
`No. 18-cv-1182 (UNA) (D.D.C. May 31, 2018); Ruther
v. United States, No. 19-cv-769 (UNA) (D.D.C. Apr. 22,
2019); Ruther v. United States, No. 19-cv-859 (UNA)
(D.D.C. Apr. 22, 2019); Ruther v. United States, No.
19-cv-769 (D.D.C. Apr. 22, 2019). Yet, plaintiff persists. In
addition to dismissing the instant complaint, the Court will
now order plaintiff to show cause why he should not be barred
from filing civil actions in forma pauperis.
individual's right to access to the courts "is
neither absolute nor unconditional." In re
Green, 669 F.2d 779, 785 (D.C. Cir. 1981) (per curiam).
Furthermore, "[a]n in forma pauperis
litigant's access to the courts is a matter of privilege,
not of right, and should not be used to abuse the process of
the courts." Williams v. McKenzie, 8 34 F.2d
152, 154 (8th Cir. 1987). The Court "has an obligation
to protect and preserve the sound and orderly administration
of justice." Urban v. United Nations, 768 F.2d
1497, 1500 (D.C. Cir. 1985) (quoting In re
Martin-Trigona, 737 F.2d 1254, 1262 (2d Cir. 1984)). To
that end, the Court "may employ injunctive remedies to
protect the integrity of the courts and the orderly and
expeditious administration of justice," Urban,
768 F.2d at 1500, such as denying "prospectively"
one's privilege to proceed in forma pauperis. Hurt v.
Social Security Admin., 544 F.3d 308, 310 (D.C. Cir.
2008). In determining whether to issue an injunction, the
Court must make substantive findings as to the frivolous or
harassing nature of the litigant's actions and as to any
pattern constituting harassment. In re Powell, 851
F.2d 427, 431 (D.C. Cir. 1988). Similarly, before revoking
the privilege to proceed in forma pauperis, the
Court must consider "the number, content, frequency, and
disposition of [the litigant's] previous filings to
determine if there is a pattern of abusing the IFP privilege
in his litigation history." Butler v. Dep't of
Justice, 492 F.3d 440, 446 (D.C. Cir. 2007).
Plaintiffs Litigation History
indicated above, most of plaintiff s complaints are
repetitive and largely incoherent, and many filed here and in
other district courts have named the same defendants. A
search of this Court's civil dockets by the name L.
Ruther reveals that since 1994, plaintiff has filed at least
40 cases in this court alone that did not survive the
screening process, most of which were dismissed in 2017 and
2018. See list attached. Additionally, the U.S.
Court of Federal Claims has noted:
Mr. Ruther is no stranger to the federal courts. "Ruther
has a longstanding history of filing frivolous lawsuits in
this court," noted a federal district court, 17 years
ago. Ruther v. State Farm Mut. Ins. Co., No.
01-671-A, 2001 WL 34360376 (E.D. Va. June 18, 2001),
qff`d, 21 Fed.Appx. 230 (4th Cir. 2001). Since then,
Mr. Ruther has filed at least 35 cases in 13 federal district
courts, although this appears to be his first foray into the
Court of Federal Claims. A common theme throughout the
opinions dismissing his complaints is that Mr. Ruther files
barely legible complaints consisting of, when readable,
Ruther v. United States, No. 18-1 HOC, 2018 WL
5095451, at *l n.3 (Fed. CI. Oct. 17, 2018) (collecting
Plaintiffs Abuse of the IFP Privilege
"inquiry" is whether plaintiff "has abused a
special privilege of the court to such an extent that that
privilege should not again be extended to him here."
Butler, 492 F.3d at 446. This Court finds that
plaintiff has reached that point. The Court has been more
than tolerant in liberally construing plaintiffs complaints,
allowing him to proceed in forma pauperis, and
expending significant staff time and resources to process,
review and resolve his cases. The Court finds that plaintiff
has a history of filing frequent and repetitive lawsuits, and
that these relentless filings are harassing to the Court.
Cf. with Butler, 492 F.3d at 446-7 (finding an abuse
of the in forma pauperis privilege from, inter
alia, plaintiffs "pattern" of filing
repetitive FOIA actions where "[a]ll but one [of 15 such
cases] were dismissed on either summary judgment, a motion to
dismiss, or for failure to respond."); see Id.
at 445-6 (examining Supreme Court cases finding abuse of IFP
privilege); see also Hurt, 544 F.3d at 310
(concluding that "'the number, content, frequency,
and disposition' of [Hurt's] filings shows an
especially abusive pattern, aimed at taking advantage of the
IFP privilege.")' Like Butler, "it appears that
filing [civil] actions is a 'pastime' for
[plaintiff]." Butler, 492 F.3d at 447,
foregoing reasons, the Court finds that plaintiff has abused
the privilege of proceeding IFP and proposes to issue an
Order barring him from filing any new civil actions in this
judicial district without payment of the applicable filing
fee. See Hurt, 544 F.3d at 311 (revoking IFP
privilege, dismissing all appeals, and directing the Clerk
"to refuse to accept any more of Hurt's civil
appeals that are not accompanied by the appropriate filing
fees.") Before the Court issues such an order, it must