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Griffin v. Corecivic

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division

October 2, 2017

KENNETH RAY GRIFFIN, # 98394, Plaintiff,
v.
CORECIVIC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Kenneth Ray Griffin, an inmate of the South Central Correctional Facility in Clifton, Tennessee, brings this pro se, in forma pauperis action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against CoreCivic, Damon Hingiea, Cherry Lindamood, Ronnie White, Jammie Garver, A. Franks, Jane Doe, John Doe, and Tony Parker, alleging violations of the Plaintiff's federal civil and constitutional rights. (Doc. No. 1). The Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment, monetary damages, injunctive relief, and costs. (Id. at 12). The Plaintiff additionally has filed a motion for the appointment of counsel (Doc. No. 3) and a motion to amend his complaint (Doc. No. 4).

         I. Motion to Appoint Counsel

         The Supreme Court has held that “an indigent's right to appointed counsel . . . exists only where the litigant may lose his physical liberty if he loses the litigation.” Lassiter v. Dep't of Social Servs., 452 U.S. 18, 25 (1981). Thus, unlike criminal proceedings, there is no constitutional right to an appointed counsel in a civil action, such as this action. Willett v. Wells, 469 F.Supp. 748, 751 (E.D. Tenn. 1977), aff'd, 595 F.2d 1227 (6th Cir. 1979); see Williamson v. Autorama, Inc., No. 91-5759, 947 F.2d 947 (6th Cir. 1991)(citing Willett favorably). The appointment of counsel for a civil litigant is a matter within the discretion of the district court and will occur only under exceptional circumstances. Lavado v. Keohane, 992 F.2d 601, 604-05 (6th Cir. 1993).

         The Plaintiff's circumstances as described are typical to most prisoners and do not suggest anything exceptional in nature. The Plaintiff submitted a detailed, coherent complaint. He does not allege that he suffers from any mental defects or physical disabilities that would limit his ability to prosecute his case. Therefore, the motion for the appointment of counsel (Doc. No. 3) will be denied.

         II. Motion to Amend

         Shortly after filing his original complaint, the Plaintiff filed a motion to amend his complaint. (Doc. No. 4). Rule 15(a) (2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that leave to amend should be freely given “when justice so requires.” In deciding whether to grant a motion to amend, courts should consider undue delay in filing, lack of notice to the opposing party, bad faith by the moving party, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by previous amendments, undue prejudice to the opposing party, and futility of the amendment. Brumbalough v. Camelot Care Ctrs., Inc., 427 F.3d 996, 1001 (6th Cir. 2005).

         The proposed amendments to the complaint provide additional context for the claims raised in the original complaint. There appears to be no undue prejudice to the opposing party by permitting the Plaintiff to amend his complaint at this time; the Defendants have not been served. The Court therefore will grant the motion to amend and screen the original complaint, as informed by the proposed amendments to the original complaint, pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A.

         III. PLRA Screening Standard

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the court must dismiss any portion of a civil complaint filed in forma pauperis that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, is frivolous, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Section 1915A similarly requires initial review of any “complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity, ” id. § 1915A(a), and summary dismissal of the complaint on the same grounds as those articulated in § 1915(e)(2)(B). Id. § 1915A(b).

         The Sixth Circuit has confirmed that the dismissal standard articulated by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), “governs dismissals for failure to state a claim under those statutes because the relevant statutory language tracks the language in Rule 12(b)(6).” Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). Thus, to survive scrutiny on initial review, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[A] district court must (1) view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and (2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.” Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)).

         Although pro se pleadings are to be held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991), the courts' “duty to be ‘less stringent' with pro se complaints does not require us to conjure up [unpleaded] allegations.” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979) (citation omitted).

         IV. Section 1983 Standard

         Griffin brings his federal claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 creates a cause of action against any person who, acting under color of state law, abridges “rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws . . . .” To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege and show two elements: (1) that he was deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and (2) that the ...


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