United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER DISMISSING ACTION AND DENYING MOTION FOR
APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL
L. ROBART UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court are pro se Plaintiff Debra Bishop's
complaint against Valley Medical Center (see Compl.
(Dkt. # 4)); Magistrate Judge Brian A. Tsuchida's order
granting Ms. Bishop in forma pauperis
(“IFP”) status and recommending that the court
review her complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B) (IFP Order (Dkt. # 3) at 1); and Ms.
Bishop's motion to appoint counsel (MTA (Dkt. # 5)). The
court first concludes that Ms. Bishop has not met her burden
of establishing the circumstances that warrant appointment of
counsel. Thus, the court denies her motion to appoint
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), district courts must review
IFP complaints and dismiss those complaints if “at any
time” the court determines that a complaint is
frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief
may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who
is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2);
see also Id. § 1915A(b)(1); Lopez v.
Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127 (9th Cir. 2000) (clarifying
that § 1915(e) applies to all IFP proceedings, not just
those filed by prisoners). As discussed below, Ms.
Bishop's complaint falls within the category of pleadings
that the court must dismiss.
Bishop brings a civil rights suit against Valley Medical
Center. (Compl. at 1.) However, her only factual assertion is
that emergency room doctor, Carmin Buck, assaulted her and
injured her arm and leg. (Id. at 7.) Ms. Bishop
seeks $80, 000.00 in damages. (Id.)
Bishop brought suit against Valley Medical Center on June 15,
2018. (See Compl.) On June 19, 2018, Magistrate
Judge Tsuchida, in granting Ms. Bishop IFP status,
recommended that the court review the complaint under 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). (IFP Order at 1.) Ms. Bishop
subsequently filed a motion requesting appointment of
counsel. (See MTA.) The court now addresses Ms.
Bishop's motion to appoint counsel and reviews her
complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Motion to Appoint Counsel
Bishop requests that the court appoint counsel. (MTA at 1.)
“In civil actions for damages, appointment of counsel
should be allowed only in exceptional cases.” U.S.
ex rel. Gardner v. Madden, 352 F.2d 792, 794 (9th Cir.
1965). Determining whether counsel should be appointed
involves the exercise of the court's discretion. See
Id. Courts evaluate three factors in determining
appointment of counsel: “(1) the plaintiff's
financial resources; (2) the efforts made by the plaintiff to
secure counsel on his or her own; and (3) the merit of the
plaintiff's claim.” Johnson v. U.S. Dep't
of Treasury, 939 F.2d 820, 824 (9th Cir. 1991).
court concludes that Ms. Bishop's submissions do not
support appointing counsel. Ms. Bishop makes only a limited
showing of her efforts to secure counsel on her own.
(See MTA at 2.) She merely asserts that she
contacted “at least” three law clinics through
the bar association. (Id.) She does not indicate
when she contacted them or if she checked with other entities
that provide pro bono legal services or could assist her in
securing pro bono representation. (See id.)
Moreover, Ms. Bishop makes no argument as to the likelihood
of success on the merits of her claims (see id.),
and after the court's independent review, the court
cannot say that her claims are likely to succeed because of
the lack of factual allegations to support Ms. Bishop's
claims, see infra § III.B. Thus, the court
denies Ms. Bishop's motion to appoint counsel.
Section 1915 Review
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) authorizes a district court to
dismiss a claim filed IFP “at any time” if it
determines: (1) the action is frivolous or malicious; (2) the
action fails to state a claim; or (3) the action seeks relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). An IFP complaint must contain
factual allegations “enough to raise a right to relief
above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The court need not
accept as true a legal conclusion presented as a factual
allegation. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). Although the pleading standard articulated by Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 8 does not require “detailed
factual allegations, ” it demands more than “an
accusation.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a).
court concludes that Ms. Bishop fails to state a claim. Aside
from her assertion that a doctor assaulted her in the
emergency room, she includes no other factual allegations
detailing how that assault supports her civil rights claim.
Indeed, Ms. Bishop does not specify which of her civil rights
Valley Medical Center allegedly violated. (See
Compl.) Without more, the complaint does not contain enough
factual allegations to “raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.” See Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555. In other words, Ms. Bishop's complaint contains
nothing more than the “unadorned