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Johnson v. Loftin

May 30, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stiehl, District Judge


Plaintiff, an inmate in the Pinckneyville Correctional Center (PCC), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff seeks injunctive and monetary relief for the alleged failure of the Defendants to provide adequate medical treatment for Plaintiff's serious medical need (HIV positive and hepatitis C infection). Also before the Court is Plaintiff's motions: to file a Supplemental Complaint (Doc. 7); to appoint counsel (Doc. 8); to issue summons (Doc. 9); and to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 10).

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening.-- The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for Dismissal.-- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint--

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

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

28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007). Upon careful review of the complaint and the supporting exhibits, the Court finds that no claim in the original complaint may dismissed at this point in the litigation.

With respect to Plaintiff's motion to file a "supplemental complaint" (Doc. 7), Rule 15(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a district court "may, on just terms, permit a party to serve a supplemental pleading setting out any transaction, occurrence, or event that happened after the date of the pleading to be supplemented." In the case at hand, Plaintiff's original complaint was filed on January 8, 2008. Plaintiff's proposed "supplemental complaint" concerns alleged retaliatory actions occurring on September 19, 2007 - over 3 months prior to the date the original complaint was filed.*fn1 The "supplemental complaint" also seeks to add defendants not named in the original complaint. The Court further notes that the "supplemental complaint" does not re-allege the allegations set forth in the original complaint. As such, both the Court and the Defendants would have to refer to two documents to determine who is being sued and why.

Local Rule 15.1 provides that:

Amended pleadings and supplemental pleadings shall contain all allegations which a party intends to pursue. All new material in the amended pleadings shall be underlined. The original of the amended pleading shall be attached to the motion to amend the pleading so that it may be filed if the motion to amend is granted.

If construed as a "supplemental complaint," then the instant pleading does not conform to Local Rule 15.1 because it does contain all of the allegations which Plaintiff wishes to pursue (because it does not reassert the allegations contained in the original complaint). If construed as an "amended complaint," then the instant pleading does not conform with any part of the Local Rule. Consequently, Plaintiff's motion to file a "supplemental complaint" is DENIED.*fn2

Plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel (Doc. 8) is also DENIED. There is no absolute right to appointment of counsel in a civil case. Cook v. Bounds, 518 F.2d 779 (4th Cir. 1975); Peterson v. Nadler, 452 F.2d 754 (8th Cir. 1971). When presented with a request to appoint counsel, the Court must make the following inquiries: "(1) has the ... plaintiff made a reasonable attempt to obtain counsel or effectively been precluded from doing so and (2) given the difficulty of the case, does the plaintiff appear competent to litigate it himself." Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d647, 854-55 (7th Cir. 2007). With regard to the first step of the inquiry, Plaintiff asserts that he "has made repeated efforts to obtain a lawyer," but the nature of Plaintiff's efforts are unclear.

With regard to the second step of the inquiry,"the difficulty of the case is considered against the plaintiff's litigation capabilities, and those capabilities are examined in light of the challenges specific to the case at hand." Id. Plaintiff's claims are not that factually complex. Briefly, Plaintiff contends that he has been denied adequate medical treatment for his HIV and hepatitis infections for approximately twenty months. From a legal standpoint, the litigation of any constitutional claim falls in the range of complex. Nevertheless, based on Plaintiff's pleadings in this case and based on Plaintiff's representation of himself in Johnson v. Walker, No. ...

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