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Williams v. Owens

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

August 20, 2014

GRADY R. WILLIAMS, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
Commissioner BRIAN OWENS, et. al, Defendants.

ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

STEPHEN HYLES, Magistrate Judge.

Presently pending before the Court are Defendants' motion to dismiss (ECF No. 16), Plaintiff's motions for injunctive relief (ECF Nos. 25, 32), and Plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel (ECF No. 26). Plaintiff's motion to appoint is denied. It is recommended that Defendants' motion to dismiss be granted and Plaintiff's motions for a preliminary injunction be denied.

BACKGROUND

The present action arises out of an incident occurring at the Macon State Prison. The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff was attacked by other inmates and stabbed seven times. A nearby officer allegedly witnessed the attack but "stood idly" inside the control booth, failing to offer Plaintiff any assistance. According to Plaintiff, "over 1200 acts of violence [are] reported every year at Macon State Prison, " and Commissioner Brian Owens, Warden Gregory McLaughlin, and Deputy Warden Don Blakely are each "aware of the ongoing gang violence that results in stabbings and deaths" at Macon State Prison but "recklessly disregard [the] prevalence of weapons and violence" that occurs and "ignore the problem that [is] an obvious and serious danger" to inmates. ( See Am. Compl. 4-5, ECF No. 7-2.)

Plaintiff was apparently provided prompt medical attention after the stabbing, but alleges that he has since been denied follow-up care. Defendant Nash advised Plaintiff that his stitches would be removed ten days after the incident. Plaintiff alleges, however, that Nash has neglected to respond to his "sick calls" for "months" and that his stitches need to come out and are painful and bleeding. ( See id. ) Plaintiff also alleges that he asked Lieutenant Eaddie to contact medical about removing the sutures, but Eaddie refused to assist him in obtaining medical care and stated that "it wasn't his problem." (Am. Compl. 4.)

After a preliminary review of Plaintiff's Complaint, Plaintiff's claims for failure to protect and inadequate medical care were allowed to go forward. Defendants move to dismiss claiming, inter alia, that Plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. Additionally, Plaintiff moves for appointment of counsel and for injunctive relief.

DISCUSSION

I. Motion to Appoint

Plaintiff seeks counsel in this case claiming he is indigent and cannot afford an attorney and that his status as an inmate "greatly limit[s] his ability to litigate." (Mot. for Appointment of Counsel 1, ECF No. 26.) Under 28 U.S.C. ยง 1915(e)(1), the district court "may request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford counsel." However, there is "no absolute constitutional right to the appointment of counsel." Poole v. Lambert, 819 F.2d 1025, 1028 (11th Cir. 1987). Appointment of counsel is a privilege that is justified only by exceptional circumstances. Lopez v. Reyes, 692 F.2d 15, 17 (5th Cir. 1982). In deciding whether legal counsel should be provided, the Court should consider, among other factors, the merits of Plaintiff's claim and the complexity of the issues presented. Holt v. Ford, 682 F.2d 850, 853 (11th Cir. 1989). Plaintiff has set forth the essential factual allegations underlying his claims, and the applicable legal doctrines are readily apparent. Plaintiff therefore has not alleged the exceptional circumstances justifying appointment of counsel under Holt. Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel is denied.

II. Motions for Injunctive Relief

Plaintiff also seeks relief in the form of a temporary restraining order directing the Defendants to stop retaliating against Plaintiff-by interfering with his mail and seizing his legal mail and property-for exercising his constitutional rights. ( See generally Mots. for Inj. Relief, ECF Nos. 25, 32.)[1] Such relief is only appropriate where the movant demonstrates that: (a) there is a substantial likelihood of success on the merits; (b) the preliminary injunction is necessary to prevent irreparable injury; (c) the threatened injury outweighs the harm that a preliminary injunction would cause to the non-movant; and (d) the preliminary injunction would not be adverse to the public interest. Parker v. State Bd. of Pardons & Paroles, 275 F.3d 1032, 1034-35 (11th Cir. 2001). An irreparable injury "must be neither remote nor speculative, but actual and imminent." Siegel v. LePore, 234 F.3d 1163, 1176 (11th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted).

Initially, the Court notes that Plaintiff is requesting that the Court issue an order directing Defendants to stop retaliating against him-in other words, to obey the law. Such injunctive relief is impermissible. See, e.g., Elend v. Basham, 471 F.3d 1199, 1209 (11th Cir. 2006) ("It is well-established in this circuit that an injunction demanding that a party do nothing more specific than "obey the law" is impermissible."). Furthermore, as discussed below, the Court finds that Plaintiff's claims should be dismissed and therefore, Plaintiff has failed to show a "substantial likelihood of success on the merits." Accordingly, it is recommended that Plaintiff's motions for injunctive relief (ECF Nos. 25, 32) be denied.

III. Motion to Dismiss

Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint claiming, inter alia, that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing this action. (Br. in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss 7-8, ECF No. 16-1.) Plaintiff responds claiming that he filed a grievance and timely appeal and consequently has exhausted his administrative remedies. (Pl.'s Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss 5-6, ECF No. 20.) As explained below, the Court agrees that Plaintiff has failed ...


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