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Parmer v. San Diego County Jail

United States District Court, S.D. California

August 29, 2017

DAVID EARL PARMER, Booking # 16125004, Plaintiff,
v.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY JAIL; SAN DIEGO MEDICAL OFFICE; DOCTOR BERKMANN Defendants.

          ORDER 1) DENYING MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL (ECF No. 6) AND 2) DISMISSING COMPLAINT FOR FAILING TO STATE A CLAIM PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) AND § 1915A(b).

          Hon. Janis L. Sammartino United States District Judge.

         I. Procedural History

         On April 18, 2017, Plaintiff, David Earl Parmer, currently housed at the San Diego Central Jail, filed a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (ECF No. 1) and a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (“IFP”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) (ECF No. 2). Because Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP complied with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2), the Court granted him leave to proceed without full prepayment of the civil filing fees required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a), but dismissed his Complaint for failing to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A(b). (ECF No. 3.)

         Plaintiff was granted leave to file an amended complaint in order to correct the deficiencies of pleading identified in the Court's Order. (Id. at 9.) Plaintiff has now filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), along with a Motion to Appoint Counsel. (ECF Nos. 4, 6.)

         II. Motion to Appoint Counsel

         Plaintiff seeks appointment of counsel to assist him in this matter. (ECF No. 6.) However, there is no constitutional right to counsel in a civil case. Lassiter v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 452 U.S. 18, 25 (1981). While under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), district courts have some limited discretion to “request” that an attorney represent an indigent civil litigant, Agyeman v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 390 F.3d 1101, 1103 (9th Cir. 2004), this discretion is rarely exercised and only under “exceptional circumstances.” Id.; see also Terrell v. Brewer, 935 F.2d 1015, 1017 (9th Cir. 1991). A finding of exceptional circumstances requires “an evaluation of the likelihood of the plaintiff's success on the merits and an evaluation of the plaintiff's ability to articulate his claims ‘in light of the complexity of the legal issues involved.'” Agyeman, 390 F.3d at 1103 (quoting Wilborn v. Escalderon, 789 F.2d 1328, 1331 (9th Cir. 1986)).

         Applying these factors to Plaintiff's case, the Court DENIES his Motion to Appoint Counsel because a liberal construction of his original pleadings shows he is capable of articulating the factual basis for his claims. All documents filed by pro se litigants are construed liberally, and “a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Moreover, Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(e) requires that “[p]leadings . . . be construed so as to do justice.” Neither the interests of justice nor any exceptional circumstances warrant the appointment of counsel in this case at this time. LaMere v. Risley, 827 F.2d 622, 626 (9th Cir. 1987); Terrell, 935 F.2d at 1017.

         III. Sua Sponte Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b)

         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner and is proceeding IFP, his FAC requires a pre-Answer screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A(b). Under these statutes, the Court must sua sponte dismiss a prisoner's IFP complaint, or any portion of it, which is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks damages from defendants who are immune. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)); Rhodes v. Robinson, 621 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2010) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)). “The purpose of [screening] is ‘to ensure that the targets of frivolous or malicious suits need not bear the expense of responding.'” Nordstrom v. Ryan, 762 F.3d 903, 920 n.1 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Wheeler v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., 689 F.3d 680, 681 (7th Cir. 2012)).

         “The standard for determining whether a plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) standard for failure to state a claim.” Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012); see also Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (noting that screening pursuant to § 1915A “incorporates the familiar standard applied in the context of failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)”). Rule 12(b)(6) requires a complaint to “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted); Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1121.

         Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] . . . a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. The “mere possibility of misconduct” or “unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation[s]” fall short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id.; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

         A. 42 U.S.C. § 1983

         Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 provides a cause of action for the “deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws” of the United States. Wyatt v. Cole, 504 U.S. 158, 161 (1992). To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

         B. Improper Defendants & ...


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