United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
STEPHEN L. CROCKER, MAGISTRATE JUDGE
se plaintiff James Jermaine Davis is proceeding in this
lawsuit against defendants Jacob Gripentrog and Steinert on
Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claims related to
their failure to let him see a health care professional Davis
injured his finger. Before the court are Davis's motion
to compel (dkt. 19) and motion for assistance recruiting
counsel (dkt. 23). For the reasons that follow, I am denying
Motion to Compel (dkt. 19)
seeks an order compelling defendants to respond more fully to
three of his discovery requests, but he has not provided a
basis for relief. To start, there is some question as to
whether Davis's motion should be denied outright for his
failure to resolve the discovery dispute informally, as
required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a)(1).
Defendants say they did not receive a deficiency letter until
June 21, but Davis says that he sent them a letter on May 12,
2019, a month before filing this motion, complaining broadly
that their responses were inadequate (see Pl. Ex. A
(dkt. 22-1, at 3)). Davis's letter only specifically
references one of his discovery requests, so I'm not
persuaded that this letter represents a good faith effort to
resolve all of Davis's complaints about defendants'
responses. But I need not resolve this issue, because Davis
has not identified any basis to compel a different response
Davis takes issue with defendants' statements in response
to his requests for admission because their statement have
been inconsistent with a non-defendant's statements that
were taken when Davis was pursuing an inmate complaint about
his claims. While Davis may believe that defendants'
responses are untrue, defendants' responses are what they
are, and it is not up to this court to order defendants to
change them. Davis is free to challenge defendants'
answers in motions practice or at trial.
Davis appears to take issue with defendants' response to
his request for production of documents and to identify any
individuals with knowledge of the incident. Yet defendants
identified Lt. Immerfall as an individual with knowledge and
referred Davis to grievance materials and Davis's request
slip related to that incident. Defendants represent that they
have not located any other responsive documents. Davis does
not explain how this response was inadequate, so I will not
compel defendants to supplement their response.
Davis asked defendants to identify the Health Services Unit
(HSU) staff whom defendants contacted about Davis's
injury. Defendants represent that they did not receive this
request until Davis's June 21 letter, and are in the
process of responding to it. At this point, there is nothing
for the court to do on this one. .
Motion for Assistance in Recruiting Counsel (dkt. 26,
se litigant does not have a right to counsel in a civil case,
Olson v. Morgan, 750 F.3d 708, 711 (7th Cir. 2014),
but a district court has discretion to assist pro se
litigants in finding a lawyer to represent them. Pruitt
v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 649 (7th Cir. 2007). A party who
wants assistance from the court in recruiting counsel must
meet certain requirements. Santiago v.
Walls, 599 F.3d 749, 760-61 (7th Cir. 2010). First, he
must show that he is unable to afford counsel and that he
made reasonable efforts on his own to find a lawyer to
represent him. Davis has satisfied these preliminary
I am not convinced that the legal and factual difficulty of
this case exceeds Davis's demonstrated ability to
prosecute it. Pruitt, 503 F.3d at 654-55. “The
question is not whether a lawyer would present the case more
effectively than the pro se plaintiff” but instead
whether the pro se litigant can “coherently present
[his case] to the judge or jury himself.” Id.
at 655. Almost all of this court's pro se litigants would
benefit from the assistance of counsel, but there are not
enough lawyers willing to take these types of cases to
provide one to each plaintiff. Accordingly, the court must
decide in each case “whether this particular
prisoner-plaintiff, among many deserving and not-so-deserving
others, should be the beneficiary of the limited resources of
lawyers willing to respond to courts' requests.”
McCaa v. Hamilton, 893 F.3d 1027, 1036 (7th Cir.
2018) (Hamilton, J., concurring).
seeks assistance in recruiting counsel because his
imprisonment curtails his ability to research and investigate
his claims, which may require expert testimony. To start,
however, nearly all pro se litigants are untrained in the law
and many of them are raising issues about medical care. There
is no categorical rule that all prisoners challenging the
adequacy of their medical care are entitled to counsel.
See Williams v. Swenson, 747 Fed.Appx. 432, 434 (7th
Cir. 2019) (affirming district court's denial of request
for counsel in medical care case); Dobbey v. Carter,
734 Fed.Appx. 362, 364 (7th Cir. 2018) (same); Romanelli
v. Suliene, 615 F.3d 847, 853 (7th Cir. 2010) (same).
The law governing Davis's claims is well established and
was explained to him in the screening order, and at this
point, it does not appear that the case will turn on
questions requiring medical expertise. See Redman v.
Doehling, 751 Fed.Appx. 900, 905 (7th Cir. 2018)
(“Redman could litigate his claims himself because they
turned on historical facts as opposed to medical
broadly, Davis's filings indicate that he is capable of
litigating this lawsuit without an attorney, at least at this
stage. His submissions have been clear and they reflect an
understanding of the Eighth Amendment standard related to an
alleged failure to provide access to medical care.
Davis's use of discovery and discovery-based motions
practice demonstrate that Davis has been able to effectively
gather information and evidence related to his claims. In
short, I am not persuaded that Davis is unable litigate this
lawsuit without the assistance of an attorney. Davis is free
to renew his request later in this case.