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Chencinski v. Myers

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 5, 2019

ROBERT CHENCINSKI, #B75443, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Robert Chencinski, an inmate in the Illinois Department of Corrections, filed this case alleging deprivation of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Rehabilitation Act (“RA”). Chencinski claims that Defendants are denying him adequate accommodation under the ADA and RA for his neurological condition, blepharospasm, by failing to provide a safely accessible bed and are also deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs regarding treatment of his blepharospasm and dental care.

         Several motions filed by Chencinski are now before the Court: Motion for Reconsideration for Appointment of Counsel (Doc. 28); Motion for Status regarding his motion for a preliminary injunction (Doc. 29); Motion for Default Judgment on his request for injunctive relief (Doc. 32); Motion Requesting Court Orders (Doc. 39); and Preliminary Injunction Exhibits in Response to Defendants' Answers (Doc. 41).

         Motion for Reconsideration

         As stated in the Merit Review Order (Doc. 8, p. 10), as a litigant in a civil case, Chencinski has no right to counsel. Romanelli v. Suliene, 615 F.3d 847, 851 (7th Cir. 2010). Of course, a district court “may request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford counsel.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (e)(1). Recruitment of counsel lies within the sound discretion of the Court. See Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 654 (7th Cir. 2007) (citing Johnson v. Doughty, 433 F.3d 1001, 1006 (7th Cir. 2006)). Determining whether to appoint counsel is a two-prong inquiry. Pruitt, 503 F.3d at 655. The threshold question is whether the indigent plaintiff has made a reasonable attempt to obtain counsel or been effectively precluded from doing so. Santiago v. Walls, 599 F.3d 749, 761 (7th Cir. 2010). Only if the threshold has been met will the Court consider the second prong, i.e., whether the plaintiff appears competent to litigate the case given its difficulty. Pruitt, 503 F.3d at 655.

         In his Motion for Reconsideration for Appointment of Counsel, Chencinski asks again for the Court to request an attorney to represent him because imprisonment greatly limits his ability to litigate the case and pending injunction motion. He also lists all of the documents and testimony he will need for the preliminary injunction hearing and trial. (Doc. 28, p. 2). The Court still finds, however, that Chencinski is competent to litigate this matter without representation at this time. Significantly, a review of the docket demonstrates that not only has Chencinski's Complaint survived screening, but his numerous pleadings demonstrate an ability to construct coherent sentences, relay information to the Court, and follow the directions of the Court. While the Court notes Chencinski's concerns with regard to his ability to investigate and collect documents due to his incarceration, such concerns are not unique to him as a pro se litigant and do not necessarily warrant recruitment of counsel. Chencinski's motion is denied without prejudice. Should the case increase in complexity as it advances to trial, or should discovery prove overly burdensome, Chencinski may refile his motion, and the Court will be willing to revisit recruitment of counsel at that time.

         Motion Requesting Court Orders

         In Chencinski's Motion for Court Orders, (Doc. 39), he states that if the Court does not recruit counsel on his behalf, then he asks that the Court issue a list of orders against Defendants regarding his access to the law library, a required affidavit from another inmate, pictures and measurements of his cell, copies of medical records, and camera footage. Defendants have filed Responses to the requests (Docs. 42, 43).

         In their Response, Defendants Dr. Myers and Wexford Health Sources, Inc (“Wexford”), argue that, regardless of whether Chencinski is seeking (1) a motion for a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) or preliminary injunction; (2) a discovery request; or (3) a motion to compel, his motion should be denied. (Doc. 42, p.1). If he is requesting emergency injunctive relief, not only has he not alleged he would suffer irreparable harm, but Defendants Myers and Wexford state that they have no control over providing his requests at Pinckneyville Correctional Center. (Id. at p.2). In order to obtain medical records, they argue that Chencinski can obtain medical records by making a request through Pinckneyville Records Office. They further claim that if the motion is a discovery request, then his request is premature and that a motion to compel should be denied as he has not first sent discovery requests to Defendants. (Id. at pp. 2-3). Defendants Thompson and the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) adopt the same arguments as Myers and Wexford. (Doc. 43, p. 1).[2]

         Chencinski's Motion Requesting Court Orders will be denied. To the extent he is seeking an emergency injunction for additional law library access and to obtain documents, Chencinski has not met the burden necessary for TRO or preliminary injunction of showing irreparable harm. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 65. Because he is not claiming he is being denied access to the law library or hindered by Defendants in his ability to litigate his claims, there is no indication that he is being denied meaningful access to the courts. In regard to his request for more time in the law library, a prison facility is not required to provide unlimited access to a law library, even for pro se litigants. Martin v. Davies, 917 F.2d 226, 240 (7th Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 501 U.S. 1208 (1991). As long as a constitutional level of access is afforded to petitioner, prison authorities are entitled to make the necessary decisions about allocation of prison resources without interference by this Court. See Smith v. Shawnee Library System, 60 F.3d 317, 323 (7th Cir.1995).

         Furthermore, as discovery in this case has not yet commenced, any discovery related requests are premature. Chencinski cannot conduct discovery until after a pretrial scheduling and discovery order is entered. In this case as Defendants have raised Chencinski's failure to exhaust his administrative remedies as an affirmative defense, (Docs. 25, 26, and 27), the scope of discovery will initially be limited to the issue of exhaustion before addressing the merits of Chencinski's claims. See Pavey v. Conley, 544 F.3d 739, 742 (7th Cir. 2008).

         Finally, the Court notes that for the purposes of preparing for his preliminary injunction claim, Chencinski's medical documents are already part of the record, having been submitted by Defendants Myers and Wexford as attached exhibits to their Response to the Motion for Preliminary Injunction, (Docs. 38-1, 38-2). See Johnson v. Smith, No. 05-4081-JLF, 2005 WL 817389 at *2 (S.D. Ill., Aug. 19, 2005) (the court will examine a request for expedited discovery using the entirety of the record “and the reasonableness of the request in light of all of the surrounding circumstances.”) (quoting Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. v. O'Connor, 194 F.R.D. 618, 623 (N.D. Ill. 2000)).

         Motion for Default Judgment on Injunction Relief

         In the Merit Review Order, Defendants were ordered to respond to the Motion for Preliminary Injunction within 14 days of service of the pleadings. (Doc. 8, p. 10). On July 11, 2019, Defendants filed Answers to the Complaint, but did not file Responses to the pending preliminary injunction motion. (Docs. 25, 26, 27). Chencinski filed a Motion for Default on Injunctive Relief, (Doc. 32), on September 17, 2019, asking the Court to enter a judgment in his favor, as Defendants had still failed to file a response. Defendants Myers and Wexford filed a response asking for an extension to file a response. They stated that until a HIPAA Qualified Protective Order was issued, they could not properly respond to the motion without access to Chencinski's medical and dental records. (Doc. 33). Defendants Thompson and IDOC also filed a Motion for Extension of Time to file a response until after the Court granted the Motion for HIPAA Qualified Protective Order. (Doc. 34). The Court granted the Motion for HIPAA Qualified Protective Order, and Defendants have filed their responses. (Doc. 38, 40). Defendants continuous filings with the Court demonstrate that they have not failed to ...

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