United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
RICHARD H. REDMAN, Plaintiff,
LORI DOEHLING and CHRISTINE DIETRICH, Defendants.
Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge
who is incarcerated at Redgranite Correctional Institution,
filed a pro se complaint claiming his civil rights
were violated. See (Docket #1). Before the Court is
Plaintiff's motion to compel discovery responses and
requesting the appointment of counsel. (Docket #18). For the
reasons stated below, the motion will be denied in all
Motion to Compel Discovery Responses
as to the discovery-related portion of the motion,
Plaintiff's rambling complaints about Defendants'
litigation conduct do not coherently present a basis for
granting relief. The primary thrust of the motion seems to be
that in order to produce medical records to Plaintiff,
Defendants requested that he sign medical release
authorization forms. (Docket #18 at 1). He took issue with
some of the language in the proposed releases, and Defendants
revised them and resent them. Id. at 1- 2. Plaintiff
accuses Defendants' counsel of purposefully delaying this
revision process so as to run out the time for discovery.
concerns do not warrant an order from the Court compelling
Defendants to produce documents or otherwise respond to
discovery. It appears that Defendants are indeed happy to do
so, if only Plaintiff would return a medical records release
authorization. Further, Plaintiff is simply mistaken in his
belief that should the August 25, 2017 discovery deadline
pass, (Docket #13 at 2), Defendants will no longer serve any
discovery responses. Assuming that Plaintiff's discovery
requests were properly and timely served, the mere fact that
the cut-off date passes will not obviate Defendants'
obligation to respond. In fact, because the dispositive
motion deadline is not until September 25, 2017,
id., the parties have a significant window of time
in which to accommodate any straggling discovery matters. It
should also be noted that Plaintiff's bare, speculative
allegations of Defendants' malfeasance with respect to
the discovery deadline are totally unsupported by the record.
Plaintiff suggests in his motion that several prison
officials (who are not defendants in this case) have been
trying to inhibit his access to his medical records. (Docket
#18 at 2-3). He does not identify what relief he would like
the Court to provide, and his stream-of-consciousness
narrative on the topic is not sufficient as a factually and
legally supported request for relief in any event.
Plaintiff complains that he received responses to some of his
discovery requests in late July, but that the responses
“are nowhere near what they should be.”
Id. at 3. Again, this cursory complaint about the
sufficiency of discovery responses falls well short of
meeting Plaintiff's burden to show that an order
compelling supplemental responses is warranted. See
Design Basics, Inc. v. Granite Ridge Builders, Inc., No.
1:06-CV-72, 2007 WL 1830809, at *2 (N.D. Ind. June 21, 2007)
(noting that the initial burden rests on the party seeking
discovery to explain how the responses received are
inadequate or incomplete) (citing James Wm. Moore, 7
Moore's Federal Practice § 37.05 (3rd ed.)). Nor
is it clear from the record that Plaintiff engaged in
meaningful efforts to meet and confer with Defendants in an
effort to resolve his concerns prior to seeking the
Court's intervention, as is required by the rules of this
Court. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(1); Civ. L. R. 37;
Williams v. Frank, No. 06C1051, 2007 WL 1217358, at
*1 (E.D. Wis. Apr. 19, 2007).
these reasons, the Court must deny Plaintiff's motion to
compel discovery responses.
Motion for Appointment of Counsel
alleged discovery dilemmas dovetail into his second request:
that he needs the assistance of counsel to help deal with
these issues. (Docket #18 at 4). Yet, as a civil litigant,
Plaintiff has no automatic right to court-appointed counsel.
Luttrell v. Nickel, 129 F.3d 933, 936 (7th Cir.
1997). However, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), the
“court may request an attorney to represent any person
unable to afford counsel.” The court should seek
counsel to represent the plaintiff if: (1) he has made
reasonable attempts to secure counsel; and (2)
“‘the difficulty of the case- factually and
legally-exceeds the particular plaintiff's capacity as a
layperson to coherently present it.'” Navejar
v. Iyiola, 718 F.3d 692, 696 (7th Cir. 2013) (quoting
Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 655 (7th Cir. 2007)
Seventh Circuit has emphasized that “[t]he question is
not whether a lawyer would present the case more effectively
than the pro se plaintiff; ‘if that were the test,
district judges would be required to request counsel for
every indigent litigant.'” Pruitt, 503
F.3d at 655 (quoting Johnson v. Doughty, 433 F.3d
1001, 1006 (7th Cir. 2006)) (internal quotation omitted).
Instead, “[t]he question is whether the plaintiff
appears competent to litigate his own claims, given their
degree of difficulty, and this includes the tasks that
normally attend litigation: evidence gathering, preparing and
responding to motions and other court filings, and
his first motion for appointment of counsel, which the Court
denied at the screening stage, (Docket #6), Plaintiff's
instant request for counsel must be denied because,
notwithstanding his efforts to obtain his own counsel, he has
not presented any evidence or argument showing that he cannot
litigate this matter competently on his own. First, he
expresses frustration about the course of discovery thus far
and claims that counsel will be better able to obtain the
discovery he seeks. See (Docket #18 at 3-4). This is
merely a complaint that counsel might be better at litigating
than Plaintiff, but the Seventh Circuit has squarely rejected
this sort of reasoning. Pruitt, 503 F.3d at 655.
Plaintiff has not submitted any evidence that he suffers from
cognitive, behavioral, or other limitations affecting his
ability to present his arguments in a cogent fashion. See
Henderson v. Ghosh, 755 F.3d 559, 565 (7th Cir. 2014).
All his filings and submissions so far in this case suggest
that the opposite is true.
Plaintiff asks the Court to reconsider the grounds for
appointment of counsel he raised in his first motion. (Docket
#18 at 4). The Court already considered those reasons and
rejected them. For instance, Plaintiff's low education
level, lack of legal training, and the difficulties inherent
in litigating a matter from behind prison bars are not
reasons that Plaintiff is unable to litigate this matter
himself. They are instead simply reasons that counsel might
do better. Pruitt, 503 F.3d at 655. Further, to the
extent Plaintiff claims that the medical issues in this case
are too complex for him to comprehend, (Docket #3 at 3), the
Court does not agree. Plaintiff has demonstrated a good
knowledge of the medical issues in play, and those issues do
not render the case insurmountably complex. Finally,
regarding Plaintiff's citation to the difficulties of
trial practice and cross-examination, id. at 3-4,
those concerns about the future do not require that counsel
be appointed at this time.
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion to
compel discovery responses and second motion for appointment
of counsel (Docket #18) be ...