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Wright v. Whiteville Correctional Facility

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

March 23, 2018

WINFRED WRIGHT, Plaintiff,
v.
WHITEVILLE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, ET AL., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL, DENYING MOTIONS TO SUBMIT STATEMENTS, DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND

          JAMES D. TODD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On April 26, 2017, Plaintiff Winfred Wright, who is incarcerated at the Whiteville Correctional Facility (WCF) in Whiteville, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 5.) In an order issued April 27, 2017, the Court granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 8.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as the WCF and Correctional Officer First Name Unknown Matthews.[1]

         Along with the complaint, Wright also filed a motion for appointment of counsel. (ECF No. 6.) Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), the “court may request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford counsel.” However, “[t]he appointment of counsel in a civil proceeding is not a constitutional right.” Lanier v. Bryant, 332 F.3d 999, 1006 (6th Cir. 2003); see also Shepherd v. Wellman, 313 F.3d 963, 970 (6th Cir. 2002) (“[T]he plaintiffs were not entitled to have counsel appointed because this is a civil lawsuit.”); Lavado v. Keohane, 992 F.2d 601, 605-06 (6th Cir. 1993) (no constitutional right to counsel in a civil case); Farmer v. Haas, 990 F.2d 319, 323 (7th Cir. 1993) (“There is no constitutional or . . . statutory right to counsel in federal civil cases . . . .”). Appointment of counsel is “a privilege that is justified only by exceptional circumstances.” Lavado, 992 F.2d at 606 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). “In determining whether ‘exceptional circumstances' exist, courts have examined the type of case and the abilities of the plaintiff to represent himself. This generally involves a determination of the complexity of the factual and legal issues involved.” Id. at 606 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Appointment of counsel is not appropriate when a pro se litigant's claims are frivolous or when his chances of success are extremely slim. Id. (citing Mars v. Hanberry, 752 F.2d 254, 256 (6th Cir. 1985)); see also Cleary v. Mukasey, 307 F. App'x 963, 965 (6th Cir. 2009) (same).

         At this stage of the proceeding, because the complaint is being dismissed with leave to amend, Wright has not satisfied his burden of demonstrating that the Court should exercise its discretion to appoint counsel. Therefore, the motion for appointment of counsel is DENIED.

         Also accompanying the complaint are separate motions in which Wright seeks to submit witness statements by three other WCF inmates: William Dykes (ECF No. 2), Maxwell Novack (ECF No. 3), and Chris Wheeler (ECF No. 4). Only the motions concerning Novack and Wheeler contain the statements referenced therein.[2] Those statements are not sworn and notarized, nor do they qualify as unsworn declarations made under penalty of perjury. See 28 U.S.C. § 1746. Therefore, the motions to submit the statements in support of Wright's complaint are DENIED.

         I. The Complaint

         Wright calls his complaint an “emergency” petition and alleges he is in danger of death or dismemberment because he is being denied medical treatment for cancer that is all over his body. (ECF No. 1 at 3, 5.) He states that he “kept constantly telling all the C/Os in this complaint as well as medical” (id. at 3), but no one will help him (id. at 5). Wright alleges the cancer is so severe that it is causing abrasions and serious infections in the lymph nodes of his ears. (Id. at 5.) He seeks declaratory relief, punitive damages of $2 million, and medical treatment or accommodations. (Id.)

         II. Analysis

         A. Screening and Standard

         The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the complaint-

         (1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or

         (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         In assessing whether the complaint in this case states a claim on which relief may be granted, the court applies standards under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), as stated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009), and in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007). Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). “Accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, the Court ‘consider[s] the factual allegations in [the] complaint to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.'” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681) (alteration in original). “[P]leadings that . . . are no more than conclusions . . . are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3 (“Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a ‘showing, ' rather than a blanket ...


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