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Hanson v. Badger Medical

United States District Court, D. Idaho

September 24, 2019

MALCOLM D. HANSON, Plaintiff,
v.
BADGER MEDICAL and ASHLEE, an employee of Badger Medical, Defendants.

          SUCCESSIVE REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE

          B. LYNN WINMILL U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Malcolm D. Hanson is a prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action. The Court previously reviewed Plaintiff’s complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A, determined that it failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, and allowed Plaintiff an opportunity to amend. (Initial Review Order, Dkt. 11.)

         Plaintiff has now filed several motions. The Court construes Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend (Dkt. 17) as including an amended complaint. The Court retains its screening authority pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b).

         Having reviewed the amended complaint, the Court concludes that Plaintiff has failed to remedy the deficiencies in his initial Complaint, and the Court will dismiss this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A.

         1. Motion for Appointment of Counsel

         Plaintiff seeks appointment of counsel. (Dkt. 19.) Unlike criminal defendants, prisoners and indigents in civil actions have no constitutional right to counsel unless their physical liberty is at stake. Lassiter v. Dep’t of Social Services, 452 U.S. 18, 25 (1981). Whether a court appoints counsel for indigent litigants is within the court’s discretion. Wilborn v. Escalderon, 789 F.2d 1328, 1331 (9th Cir. 1986).

         In civil cases, counsel should be appointed only in “exceptional circumstances.” Id. To determine whether exceptional circumstances exist, the court should evaluate two factors: (1) the likelihood of success on the merits of the case, and (2) the ability of the plaintiff to articulate his claims pro se in light of the complexity of legal issues involved. Terrell v. Brewer, 935 F.2d 1015, 1017 (9th Cir. 1991). Neither factor is dispositive, and both must be evaluated together. Id. Further, an attorney cannot be forced to represent an indigent litigant in a civil case-rather, the attorney can only be “appointed” if he or she voluntarily accepts the appointment. See Mallard v. U.S. Dist. Court for S. Dist. of Iowa, 490 U.S. 296, 298 (1989) (holding that the appointment of counsel provision in § 1915, formerly found in subsection (d), does not “authorize[] a federal court to require an unwilling attorney to represent an indigent litigant in a civil case”); Veenstra v. Idaho State Bd. of Corr., No. 1:15-cv-00270-EJL (D. Idaho May 4, 2017) (“[The Court] does not have inherent authority to compel an attorney to represent Plaintiffs pro bono.”).

         The legal issues in this matter are not complex, and Plaintiff has been able to file documents with the Court and protect his interests to date. In addition, as the Court concludes below, the amended complaint fails to state a federal claim upon which relief may be granted; therefore, Plaintiff does not have a likelihood of success on the merits of those claims. Accordingly, the Court will deny Plaintiff’s Motion for Appointment of Counsel.

         2. Screening Requirement

         As explained in the Initial Review Order, the Court must dismiss a prisoner or in forma pauperis complaint-or any portion thereof-that states a frivolous or malicious claim, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(d)(2) & 1915A(b).

         3. Pleading Standard

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A complaint fails to state a claim for relief under Rule 8 if the factual assertions in the complaint, taken as true, are insufficient for the reviewing court plausibly “to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “[D]etailed factual allegations” are not required, but a plaintiff must offer “more than ... unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation[s].” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). If the facts pleaded are “merely consistent with a defendant’s liability, ” or if there is an “obvious alternative explanation” that would not result in liability, the complaint has not stated a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Id. at 678, 682 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         4. Discussion

         Plaintiff brings his federal claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the civil rights statute. To state a plausible civil rights claim, a plaintiff must allege a violation of rights protected by the Constitution or created by federal statute proximately caused by conduct of a person acting under color of state law. Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991). To be liable under § 1983, “the defendant must possess a purposeful, a knowing, or possibly a reckless state of mind.” Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466, 2472 (2015). Negligence is not actionable under ยง 1983, because a negligent act by a public official ...


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