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Holland v. Macon State Prison

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

May 29, 2019

MACON STATE PRISON, et al., Defendants.


          Stephen Hyles, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Pending before the Court is Defendants McLaughlin, Howard, Charles, Mango, Ellis, and Augusta University's motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 61) and Plaintiff's motion seeking appointed counsel (ECF No. 67). For the reasons explained below, Plaintiff's motion is denied and it is recommended that Defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted.


         Plaintiff's claims arise from his incarceration at the Macon State Prison (“MSP”). Am. Compl. 5, ECF No. 4. He alleges that on November 4, 2016, he began experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, including a headache; weakness, numbness, and tingling in his hands; and chest pain. Id. Plaintiff alerted two prison guards to his condition, and they attempted to contact the medical department to advise them they “ha[d] a medical emergency” and required immediate assistance. Id. After approximately one hour passed with no response from medical, Plaintiff alleges he saw Defendants Charles and Mango, prison officials, and informed them that he was having a heart attack. Id. Plaintiff alleges neither Defendant took any action and that they were “clearly hoping [Plaintiff] would die of [a] heart attack.” Id.

         Plaintiff also alleges he never received treatment for his heart attack and filed emergency grievances related to this lack of care, stating that his condition was “life threatening.” See Am. Compl. 8. In his second amended complaint, Plaintiff also appears to allege that Defendant Mango falsely noted-in the “dorm log book” -that Plaintiff had been to medical. 2nd Am. Compl. 3, ECF No. 29.[1] He also states that Defendant Ellis told Defendant Mango not to bring Plaintiff to medical, because she would “check him” at his cell. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Howard, a grievance coordinator, and Defendant McLaughlin, the prison warden, failed to take action on his emergency grievances and falsified documents in response to such grievances. Id. Plaintiff also appears to allege that Defendants' refusal to provide him with appropriate medical care was retaliation for a civil complaint Plaintiff previously filed against some of the named Defendants. See, e.g., Am. Compl. 6.

         Following preliminary review, the Court determined that Plaintiff's medical deliberate indifference claims against Defendants McLaughlin, Howard, Charles, and Mango could proceed, as could his retaliation claims against Defendants McLaughlin and Howard. Order 2, Oct. 31, 2017, ECF No. 35. His other claims were dismissed without prejudice. Id. On April 26, 2018, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint, adding Defendants Ellis, Hutchins, and Georgia Regents University. Order 1, ECF No. 39. On September 17, 2018, Defendants filed their joint motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 61).[2]


         I. Motion for Appointed Counsel

         Plaintiff has again moved for the Court to appoint counsel to assist him in this case. 2nd Mot. to Appoint Counsel 1, ECF No. 67. The Court denied Plaintiff's prior motion (ECF No. 38) because he failed to show extraordinary circumstances justifying the appointment of counsel. Order 2-3, April 26, 2018, ECF No. 38. Now, Plaintiff argues counsel should be appointed because he cannot afford counsel, has limited knowledge of federal law, and believes Defendants' summary judgment motion presents complex issues. 2nd Mot. to Appoint Counsel 1.

         There is “no absolute constitutional right to the appointment of counsel” in a § 1983 lawsuit. Poole v. Lambert, 819 F.2d 1025, 1028 (11th Cir. 1987) (per curiam). Indeed, “appointment of counsel in a civil case . . . is a privilege that is justified only by exceptional circumstances.” Wahl v. McIver, 773 F.2d 1169, 1174 (11th Cir. 1985). Such circumstances do not exist here. In deciding whether legal counsel should be provided, the Court considers, inter alia, the merits of Plaintiff's claims and the complexity of the issues presented. Holt v. Ford, 862 F.2d 850, 853 (11th Cir. 1989) (en banc). The facts of this case are not overly complicated and the law governing Plaintiff's claims is neither novel nor complex. Accordingly, Plaintiff's renewed motion seeking appointed counsel (ECF No. 67) is denied.

         II. Summary Judgment

         A. Standard

         Summary judgment may be granted only “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In determining whether a genuine dispute of material fact exists to defeat a motion for summary judgment, the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment, drawing all justifiable inferences in the opposing party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). A fact is material if it is relevant or necessary to the outcome of the suit. Id. at 248. A factual dispute is genuine if the evidence would allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

         “The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion [] and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Jones v. UPS Ground Freight, 683 F.3d 1283, 1292 (11th Cir. 2012) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted) (alterations in original). “The burden then shifts to the non-moving party to rebut that showing by producing affidavits or other relevant and admissible evidence beyond the pleadings.” Id. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). “The ...

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