United States District Court, D. Maryland
JAMES E. HOUCK, Plaintiff
FOOD SERVICES at WCI, et al., Defendants JAMES E. HOUCK,
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., et al., Defendants
J. HAZEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Houck filed the above civil actions under 42 U.S.C.
§1983 with Motions for Leave to Proceed in Forma
Pauperis. Houck's frequent and repetitive filings in this
Court have earned him “three strikes” under the
Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
See Houck v. Western Correctional Institution,
GJH-17-2801 and GJH-17-3182, 2017 WL 1002416 (February 28,
2019) (assigning Houck's second and third strikes);
Houck v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Civil Action
No. GJH-17-1136 (D. Md. 2017) (assigning the first strike).
As the Court has explained to Houck on other occasions, he is
barred from filing cases in forma pauperis unless he can
establish that he is under an imminent danger of serious
physical injury or pays the full filing fee.
“imminent danger” exception to §
1915(g)'s “three strikes” rule is construed
narrowly and applied only “for genuine emergencies,
” where “time is pressing” and “a
threat . . .is real and proximate” to the alleged
official misconduct. Lewis v. Sullivan, 279 F.3d
526, 531 (7th Cir. 2002). “The exception focuses on the
risk that the conduct complained of threatens continuing or
future injury, not on whether the inmate deserves a remedy
for past misconduct.” Martin v. Shelton, 319
F.3d 1048, 1050 (8th Cir. 2003). The bar for establishing
imminent danger although high, is not insurmountable.
If limited to situations in which, say, a beating is ongoing,
no prisoner will find solace; once the beating starts, it is
too late to avoid the physical injury; and once the beating
is over the prisoner is no longer in “imminent
danger” . . . . Reading the imminent-danger language
this way would make it chimerical, a cruel joke on prisoners.
Lewis, 270 F.3d at 531.
speculative, or conclusory allegations are insufficient to
invoke the exception of § 1915(g); rather, the inmate
must make ‘specific fact allegations of ongoing serious
physical injury, or of a pattern of misconduct evidencing the
likelihood of imminent serious physical injury.'”
Johnson v. Warner, 200 Fed.Appx. 270, 272 (4th Cir.
2006) quoting Martin v. Shelton, 319 F.3d 1048, 1050
(8th Cir.2003). In the context of alleged lack of medical
care, there must be some demonstration that the actions taken
or treatment denied constitutes a danger of future physical
harm. See Richardson v. Hite, 53 Fed.Appx. 291 (4th
Cir. Dec. 23, 2002) (finding no “imminent danger”
in allegation that inmate was being denied medication for his
elevated cholesterol levels where inmate did not demonstrate
that his cholesterol levels were necessarily dangerous or
that medication was a medical necessity); Richardson v.
Joseph, 2006 WL 1075160 (W.D. Va. April 21, 2006)
(finding no “imminent danger” in allegation that
doctor changed inmate's blood pressure medication without
conducting a physical examination where inmate did not
specify any adverse side effects he had experienced or allege
facts indicating that the new medication was harmful).
reasons set forth below, the Court finds Houck does not
demonstrate that he is in imminent danger of serious physical
injury. Accordingly, his Motions for Leave to Proceed in
Forma Pauperis will be denied pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§1915(g) and he will be granted 21 days to pay the
$400.00 filing fee in each case for a total of $800. If Houck
fails to pay the filing fees, the cases will be dismissed
without prejudice or further notice.
v. Food Services, et al, Civil Action No.
claims in his Complaint that he did not receive his
prescribed medical diet for from January 27, 2019 through
February 13, 2019, and seeks $50 million and a television.
ECF 1 at 4. Houck does not allege that he suffered physical
harm as a result of the alleged deprivation, Defendants acted
with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, or
the deprivation, having stopped on February 13, 2019,
continues somehow to pose a serious risk of physical harm to
him. Houck's vague allegations fail to establish that he
is in imminent danger of serious physical injury to except
him from the requirement imposed under 28 U.S.C.
§1915(g). To the extent Houck asks for appointment of
counsel in the Complaint (ECF No. 1 at 5), he provides no
reasons to support his request and his numerous filings in
this Court demonstrate that he has been able to pursue his
claims on his own or secure meaningful assistance to do so.
v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., et al., Civil Action
Complaint, Houck alleges that Stephen Schelinase, M.D., and
Vincent Siracusano, M.D, prescribed Risperdal for him between
2015 and 2017, and as a result of the medication, he
developed gynecomastia (enlargement of male
breasts). He asks for damages of “ $100
million or $60 million” or to settle the case. ECF 1 at
5, 7. Houck alleges he was not informed that gynecomastia was
a possible side effect of the medication. Of import, Houck
does not claim that he is presently taking Risperdal, is
forcibly administered this medication,  or he is in
imminent danger of physical harm due to having taken the
drug. He provides no grounds to excuse him from paying the
filing fee under § 1915(g). He will be denied leave to
proceed in forma pauperis and granted 21 days to pay the
filing fee for this case.
has filed at least five other cases claiming he developed
enlarged breasts as a result of the medication, none of which
has resulted in a decision in Houck's favor. See e.g.
Houck v. Schelinase, GJH-18-2880, 2019 WL 1493312 (D.
Md. April 4, 2019); Houck v. Janssen
Pharmaceuticals, Inc., GJH-17-1136 (D. Md.
April 28, 2017); Houck v. Siracusano, GJH-16-1323,
2017 WL3500400 (D. Md. August 15, 2017); Houck v. Wexford
Health Sources Inc., GJH-15-3639, 2106 WL 6634858 (D.
Md. November 7, 2016); Houck v. Department of Public
Safety and Correctional Services, GJH-15-1883, 2015 WL
7721813, (D. Md. November 30, 2015) (consol with GJH-15-1912;
GJH-15-2051). If this matter proceeds, Defendants may likely
assert res judicta as an affirmative defense, as
they did in Houck v. Siracusano, GJH-16-1323, 2017
WL3500400 *5. GJH-16-1323, 2017 WL3500400.
these reasons, the Court will deny Houck's Motions for
Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis in the above cases and
grant him 21 days to pay the $400 filing fee in each case. If
Houck fails to pay the filing fee within this time, the case