United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON District Judge
plaintiff Marcia Joanne McNeil has filed a complaint alleging
that she was retaliated against after she filed a
discrimination complaint. Dkt. 1. In a March 6, 2018 order, I
reviewed her complaint and concluded that it did not meet the
pleading requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8.
Dkt. 4. I offered McNeil an opportunity to file an amended
complaint explaining specifically what retaliatory acts she
has suffered, who took those acts, and when they were taken.
Now McNeil has filed an amended complaint. Dkt. 5. I must
screen it and dismiss any portion that is legally frivolous,
malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by
law cannot be sued for money damages, just as I did with
McNeil's original complaint.
initial complaint, McNeil alleged that she filed an
employment discrimination claim with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission on April 22, 1996, accusing the
Salvation Army Lake Camp of discriminating against her
because she is deaf, and that several Salvation Army
employees have retaliated against her since then.
general gist of McNeil's amended complaint is that since
filing a claim with the EEOC in 1996, she has worked and
lived in several different locations and, in each location,
she has seen suspicious people (whom she refers to as
“sick individuals, ” see, e.g.,
id. at 4) watching her and following her. She
alleges that these people are “affiliated” with
the Salvation Army. Id. at 6. She does not know who
these suspicious people are, with two exceptions: she alleges
that June Stowell, an employee of the Lake Camp, stalked
McNeil by “driving near” McNeil's homes
sometime in the late 1990s, id. at 1; and she
alleges that Robert Bonifield, the former Lieutenant Colonel
of the Salvation Army in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, and
his wife, Ruth Bonifield, “did not assist” McNeil
and “kick[ed her] out of the Waukesha Salvation Army
Church” and Army Lake Camp. Id. at 3.
explained in my March 6 order, to state a claim for
retaliation under the ADA, McNeil must allege that she
suffered adverse action because of filing an EEOC
complaint. McNeil has now explained what adverse actions she
believes she has suffered, but she does not explain whether
any of the people she lists in her amended complaint knew of
her EEOC complaint, or why she believes that they acted
because of her EEOC complaint. Her allegations concerning the
unnamed suspicious people border on the fantastical; her
allegations concerning Stowell and the Bonifields are
somewhat more plausible but still too vague to state a claim.
Without a connection between the adverse actions-the
stalking, following, watching, and failing to assist-and
McNeil's EEOC complaint, McNeil has not shown that she is
entitled to relief.
offer McNeil one final opportunity to amend her complaint to
explain the connection between the retaliation she believes
she has suffered and her EEOC complaint. She should explain
why she believes each individual listed in her complaint knew
of her EEOC complaint and acted because she filed an EEOC
complaint. I will give McNeil a short deadline to submit her
amended complaint. If she does not do so, I will dismiss her
case for failure to prosecute.
McNeil has also filed a “motion for an appointment for
counsel.” Dkt. 6. Litigants in civil cases do not have
a constitutional right to counsel, and I do not have the
authority to appoint counsel to represent a pro se plaintiff
in a civil matter. Rather, I can only assist in recruiting
counsel who may be willing to serve voluntarily. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1); Pruitt v. Mote, 503
F.3d 647, 654, 656 (7th Cir. 2007) (en banc). To prove that
assistance in recruiting counsel is necessary, this court
generally requires that a pro se plaintiff: (1) provide the
names and addresses of at least three lawyers who decline to
represent her in this case; and (2) demonstrate that hers is
one of those relatively few cases in which it appears from
the record that the legal and factual difficulty of the case
exceeds her demonstrated ability to prosecute it.
Id. at 655; see also Young v. Cramer, No.
13-cv-77, 2013 WL 5504480, at *2 (W.D. Wis. Oct. 3, 2013).
has provided no evidence that she has attempted to recruit
legal representation on her own. This is reason enough to
deny her motion. See Jackson v. County of McLean,
953 F.2d 1070, 1072-73 (7th Cir. 1992). Even if this
requirement were met, the second requirement for assistance
in recruiting counsel requires McNeil to demonstrate that the
legal and factual difficulty of each case exceeds her ability
to prosecute it. It is too early to tell whether McNeil's
claims will outstrip her litigation abilities. Although her
inability to hear poses problems for participating in a
hearing, it does not interfere with her ability to write- and
the vast majority of litigation is done on paper. And at this
point, McNeil need only explain what happened to her, a task
she does not need the assistance of counsel to complete. So I
will not help McNeil find counsel at this point. Should I
allow her to proceed on her claims, should the case pass the
early stage of litigation, and should McNeil continue to
believe that she is unable to litigate the suit herself, then
she may renew her motion.
Plaintiff Marcia Joanne McNeil's complaint is DISMISSED
for failure to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8.
Plaintiff may have until May 22, 2018, to file an amended
complaint explaining her retaliation claims. If plaintiff
fails to timely ...