United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division
WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
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).
Motion to Appoint Counsel
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.
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.
Motion to Amend
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).
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.
PLRA Screening Standard
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).
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)).
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).
Section 1983 Standard
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