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Mayes v. Sehorn

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

November 22, 2017

STEPHEN RICHARD MAYES, # 537428, Plaintiff,
DAVID SEHORN, et al., Defendants.


          Aleta A. Trauger United States District Judge

         Stephen Richard Mayes, an inmate of the Lois DeBerry Special Needs Facility in Nashville, Tennessee, brings this pro se, in forma pauperis action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against physician's assistant David Sehorn, Unit 7B Provider, Dr. Madu Nwozo, and Unit 7B Physician, alleging violations of the plaintiff's civil and constitutional rights. (Docket No. 1). As relief, the complaint seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (Id. at p. 6). The plaintiff also has filed a motion for appointment of counsel (Docket No. 3) and a “Motion Requesting Guidance and Assistance with Case” (Docket No. 5).

         I. Motion for Appointment of Counsel

         Along with the filing of his complaint, the plaintiff submitted a motion seeking the appointment of counsel. (Docket No. 3). 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, his motion for the appointment of counsel (Docket No. 3) will be denied.

         II. Motion Requesting Guidance and Assistance with Case

         The plaintiff also submitted a motion “requesting guidance and assistance with case.” (Docket No. 5). In his motion, the plaintiff states that he has “had two other incidents of deliberate indifference occur since filing the complaint.” (Id. at p. 1). He states that he is “in fear of [his] well-being” and is “afraid something will happen to [him] soon and need to get some guidance.” (Id.)

         The court must be impartial to all parties. Therefore, the court cannot give legal advice or assistance to litigants, including pro se litigants, because the court cannot favor or appear to favor one litigant over another litigant.

         In addition, the plaintiff's motion does not explain what “incidents” have occurred or what specific threat(s) to the plaintiff's health and safety are present. Without more details, the court is unable to address the plaintiff's unspecified concerns. The motion, therefore, will be denied.

         III. PLRA Screening Standard

         The complaint is before the court for an initial review pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A.

         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 ...

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