NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Some inmates lift weights. Others pass the time playing cards.
Dale Maisano files thousands upon thousands of lawsuits, mostly complaining about the food.
Maisano, a 62-year-old prisoner in Florence, Ariz., has filed — at last count — 5,813 federal lawsuits across the nation. Most of them have been filed in the last two years, and more than 1,800 of those have been filed in Nashville's federal court.
Most of the lawsuits are identical. A sampling:
"Stop the torture and give me food that will not make me ill."
Another: "Daily I'm given a diet that causes the Plaintiff to be severely ill."
And what does he want in return?
Ten trillion dollars (either in U.S. dollars or gold).
His targets have included governors, wardens, attorneys general and Nashville-based Corizon Health, which provides medical care for inmates — and which explains why so many lawsuits have been filed here.
"I don't have any delusions I'm going to get that kind of money. I don't have any delusions I'm going to get any money," Maisano said Wednesday by phone from the prison in Arizona where he resides on a 15-year sentence for aggravated assault. "A lot of them are just nuisance suits. We're trying to get our point across."
And what's the point, exactly? That inmates aren't being given proper food and health care — a notion the Arizona Department of Corrections says isn't true.
"Inmate Maisano has access to appropriate health care and his diet needs are met," said Doug Nick, the department's spokesman. "The sheer volume of the lawsuits he has filed and the financial demands he makes speak for themselves."
That volume has gotten the attention of multiple federal judges, but it hasn't endeared him to them.
One judge in 1992 tried to curb Maisano's blitz, forbidding him from filing any lawsuits without the court's permission. Maisano ignored the order and, though he slowed down for a number of years, he kicked into overdrive in 2013.
That year, he filed more federal lawsuits than all the federal cases lodged in the states of Maine, New Hampshire and Wyoming combined. Even that doesn't compare with his pace this year — 3,356 as of Thursday.
His busiest day ever came on Jan. 24, when he filed 249 lawsuits.
And while most lawsuits are dismissed the day they come in, some poor court clerk in Nashville or Phoenix is stuck entering his handwritten complaints into the docket.
Maisano said he's not crazy but "could use some mental health help." Despite having thousands of his complaints dismissed just as quickly as he's filed them, he said he believes his effort is working.
"If I would have filed five cases and let them go," he said, "would you be talking to me?"