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Manson v. State of Washington Health Care Authority

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

March 31, 2017

DARYL MANSON, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF WASHINGTON HEALTH CARE AUTHORITY, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL

          JAMES L. ROBART United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the court is Plaintiff Daryl Manson's motion to appoint counsel. (Mot. (Dkt. # 9).) Mr. Manson is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis (“IFP”). (See Compl. (Dkt. # 4); IFP Order (Dkt. # 3).) Defendants State of Washington Health Care Authority (“the HCA”) and Northwest Hospital (“Northwest”) (collectively, “Defendants”) oppose Mr. Manson's motion. (NW Resp. (Dkt. # 12); HCA Resp. (Dkt. # 13).) The court has considered Mr. Manson's motion, the parties' submissions in support of and opposition to the motion, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully advised, [1] the court DENIES Mr. Manson's motion for the reasons set forth below.

         II. BACKGROUND & ANALYSIS

         Mr. Manson filed this suit on February 9, 2017. (See IFP Mot. (Dkt. # 1).) Although Mr. Manson's complaint is difficult to follow, it appears that he alleges that the HCA violated his privacy by disclosing his personal health information (Compl. at 4-9) and that Northwest committed medical malpractice during Mr. Manson's treatment there in January 2016 (id. at 10-15).

         On March 7, 2017, Mr. Manson filed a document entitled “Plaintiff's Evidentiary Exhibits.” (See Mot. at 1.) In that document, Mr. Manson states that he “in reality would like court[-]appointed counsel.” (Id. at 6.) The court construed Mr. Manson's filing as a motion to appoint counsel. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990) (stating that courts must liberally construe pro se filings).

         A district court has “discretion to designate counsel to represent an indigent civil litigant.” Wilborn v. Escalderon, 789 F.2d 1328, 1331 (9th Cir. 1986); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1) (“The court may request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford counsel.”). The court may only do so, however, in “exceptional circumstances.” Wilborn, 789 F.2d at 1331; see also Agyeman v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 390 F.3d 1101, 1103 (9th Cir. 2004). The court may find exceptional circumstances after evaluating “the likelihood of success on the merits” and “the ability of the petitioner to articulate his claims pro se in light of the complexity of the legal issues involved.” Wilborn, 789 F.2d at 1331. The court must analyze both of these factors together before deciding whether to appoint counsel under Section 1915(e)(1). See Id . The plaintiff seeking counsel bears the burden of demonstrating exceptional circumstances.[2] Brogdon v. City of Phoenix Police Dep't, No. CV-11-01389-PHX-RCB(MEA), 2013 WL 3155116, at *1 (D. Ariz. June 19, 2013).

         Mr. Manson makes no argument as to the likelihood of success on the merits of his claims (see generally Mot.), whereas Defendants argue that Mr. Manson's complaint suffers from jurisdictional defects and fails to state a claim (see NW Resp. at 2; HCA Resp. at 2). The court therefore cannot conclude that Mr. Manson is likely to succeed on the merits. Second, any difficulty Mr. Manson will experience in attempting to litigate his case does not stem “from the complexity of the issues involved.” Wilborn, 789 F.2d at 1331. Indeed, the privacy violations and medical malpractice claims that Mr. Manson appears to allege are not especially complex. (See Compl. at 4-15; Mot. at 6-7 (stating only that “the intricacies are far to[o] chilling and strange”).) That Mr. Manson might find “it difficult to articulate his claims pro se” is insufficient to demonstrate that his case involves complex legal issues. Wilborn, 789 F.2d at 1331. Accordingly, Mr. Manson fails to meet his burden of establishing exceptional circumstances that warrant the appointment of counsel. See Brogdon, 2013 WL 3155116, at *1.

         III. CONCLUSION

         For the foregoing reasons, the court DENIES Mr. Manson's motion to appoint counsel (Dkt. # 9). The court directs Mr. Manson to the Western District of Washington's website, which provides materials to assist pro se litigants. See Representing Yourself (“Pro Se”), W. Dist. of Wash., http://www.wawd.uscourts.gov/ representing-yourself-pro-se; E-Pro Se, W. Dist. of Wash., http://www.wawd.uscourts. gov/pro-se/e-pro-se.

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Notes:

[1] No party requested oral argument, and the court determines that oral argument would not be helpful to its disposition of the motion. See Local Rules W.D. Wash. LCR 7(b)(4).

[2] Defendants have each filed a motion to dismiss (HCA MTD (Dkt. # 8); N.W. MTD (Dkt. # 11)), but district courts may not dismiss a pro se plaintiff's complaint prior to ruling on his motion for appointment of counsel, see Johnson v. U.S. ...


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