United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Plaintiff, Carl Lane, an inmate currently confined at the State Correctional Institution at Fayette, Pennsylvania, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He has paid the full filing fee in this matter. Named as Defendants are eight employees and two inmates at SCI-Dallas, Plaintiff’s former place of incarceration. Presently pending on the docket are Plaintiff’s motions for counsel (Doc. 32), to amend his complaint (Doc. 39), and for the voluntary dismissal of some Defendants (Doc. 45). Also pending are Defendants’ motions for judgment on the pleadings (Docs. 28, 30) and to stay discovery (Doc. 15).
Plaintiff alleges that the relevant incidents occurred on April 28, 2012, and from May 15, 2012 through the time the complaint was filed on April 29, 2014. He claims he was attacked by Defendants, Kaymel Brown and John Spady, both inmates. The attack occurred in a stairwell in the prison. According to Plaintiff, Defendants, Walsh and Snyder, were aware of the history of stairwell assaults, but ignored the risk to inmates of being attacked there, when they failed to take any precautionary measures. (Doc. 1-1, Compl.) Plaintiff claims that inmates, Spady and Brown, planned the attack because they knew the stairwell was unmonitored.
It is further asserted that Defendant Wilson, a Pennsylvania State Police officer, refused to take any criminal law enforcement action against the inmates despite “ample evidence.” (Id.) Plaintiff believes that Wilson failed to do so because Plaintiff is not an officer or a white inmate. Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff seeks monetary relief and a jury trial.
A. Motion for Counsel
In support of his request for the appointment of counsel, Plaintiff states that he is unable to afford a lawyer, suffers from mental illness, is without access to the law library, and that his case file is in storage at SCI-Fayette. (Doc. 32.)
There is neither a constitutional, nor statutory right to counsel for civil litigants. Montgomery v. Pinchak, 294 F.3d 492, 498 (3d Cir. 2001). Congress has granted district courts the discretion to “request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford counsel.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1)(Noting that appointment of counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1) is “discretionary”). A court’s discretionary authority to appoint an attorney to represent a civil litigant (prisoner or non-incarcerated individual) only comes into play when the party is proceeding within the terms of 28 U.S.C. § 1915, Proceedings In Forma Pauperis, which necessarily implies the litigant’s indigent status, and is made on a case-by-case basis. Tabron v. Grace, 6 F.3d 147, 157-58 (3d Cir. 1993).
In the instant case, Plaintiff is not proceeding in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. He paid the full filing fee of $400.00 in this action. As such, the court is without authority to consider his request for the appointment of counsel.
B. Motion to stay discovery
Immediately after filing his complaint, Plaintiff served discovery requests on the Defendants. This occurred prior to the filing by Defendants of any response to the complaint. Since that time, Defendants have filed motions seeking judgment on the pleadings. Defendants move to stay discovery pending the resolution of the motions for judgment on the pleadings, which may potentially dispose of some or all of the claims before the court.
The court has broad discretion to stay discovery pending resolution of a dispositive motion. Panola Land Buyers Ass’n v. Shuman, 762 F.2d 1550, 1560 (11thCir. 1985). A stay is proper where the likelihood that a motion to dismiss may result in a narrowing or outright elimination of discovery outweighs any likely harm from the delay. 19th St. Baptist Church v. St. Peters Episcopal Church, 190 F.R. D. 345, 349 (E.D. Pa. 2000).
In Mann v. Brenner, 375 F. App’x 232, 239-40 (3d Cir. 2010), the Third Circuit stated that staying discovery while evaluating a motion to dismiss may be appropriate in certain circumstances, such as while evaluating a motion to dismiss where, if the ...