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Spencer v. Brott

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

February 21, 2019

MARVIN SPENCER, Plaintiff,
v.
JOEL L. BROTT, Sheriff; DR. TODD LEONARD, Physician; MICHELL SKROCH, BSIU/CCHD Nursing Dir.; GWEN BLOSSOM ENGLAND, CNP, RN; DR. DIANA VANDERBEEK, Assistant Physician; CAPT. TOM ZERWAS; SGT. TRAVIS LINDSTROM; SGT. BRAD BOHN, Badge #3419; C/O JIM ROURKE, Badge #3341; C/O ANNE HERBST, Badge #3473; C/O JOHNNIE GILBERT; C/O LISA SHORE, Badge #2163; C/O JOSHUA JESBERG, Badge #3304; C/O CATHERINE KOCH, Badge #2145; C/O OLUWASEUN JIBOWU, Badge #3397; C/O DENISE COOK; C/O TAMMY BOROS; C/O NICHOLAS SIMON, Badge #3384; C/O LOGAN BARRETT, Badge #3305; C/O YVONNE ADAMS, Badge #1757; C/O AMY KAHLER, Badge #1901; C/O DAN WORBER, Badge #3360; C/O LAURA HOLMQUIST, Badge #1719; and C/O LORI BENNETT, Badge #1409, Defendants. MARVIN SPENCER, Plaintiff,
v.
JOEL L. BROTT, Sheriff; DR. TODD LEONARD, Physician; MICHELL SKROCH, BSIU/CCHD Nursing Dir.; GWEN BLOSSOM ENGLAND, CNP, RN; DR. DIANA VANDERBEEK, Assistant Physician; CAPT. TOM ZERWAS; SGT. ARIC HANSON, Badge#3401; SGT. REBECCA BEAL, Badge #3418; SGT. TRAVIS LINDSTROM, Badge #; SGT. BRAD BOHN, Badge #3419; C/O JIM ROURKE, Badge #3341; C/O ANNE HERBST, Badge #3473; C/O JOHNNIE GILBERT, Badge #; C/O LISA SHORE, Badge #2163; C/O JOSHUA JESBERG, Badge #3304; C/O CATHERINE KOCH, Badge #2145; C/O OLUWASEUN JIBOWU, Badge #3397; C/O DENISE COOK; C/O TAMMY BOROS, Badge #; C/O NICHOLAS SIMON, Badge #3384; C/O LOGAN BARRETT, Badge #3305; C/O YVONNE ADAMS, Badge #1757; C/O AMY KAHLER, Badge #1901; C/O DAN WORBER, Badge #3360; C/O LAURA HOLMQUIST, Badge #1719; C/O LORI BENNETT, Badge #1409; C/O CHRISTOPHER HANSEN, Badge #1074; C/O THERESA KLINGE, Badge #; JENNIE R. THOMPSON, RN; GWENDOLYN BLOSSOM ENGLAND, RN; ALYSSA PFEIFER, RN; MICHELLE SKROCH, RN; MINDI JOHNSON, CMA; BRIONY BOHN, LPN; CASSANDRA JAMES, RN; and KAYLA HERTENSTEIN, RN, Defendants.

          CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER

          Tony N. Leung United States Magistrate Judge

         The above matters, Spencer v. Brott et al., 17-cv-5035 (“Spencer I”), and Spencer v. Brott et al., 17-cv-5220 (“Spencer II”), were recently consolidated. (See ECF No. 32 in No. 17-cv-5035; ECF No. 16 in No. 17-cv-5220.) Several items must be addressed so that this litigation can now move forward, including: (1) Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) in Spencer I; (2) completion of service for both cases, including Plaintiff's obligation to provide completed Marshal Service Forms; (3) a motion for extension of time; and (4) motions for continuances and to appoint counsel.

         I. IFP APPLICATION & SERVICE

         Plaintiff filed IFP applications in Spencer I and Spencer II. (ECF No. 2 in No. 17-cv-5035; ECF No. 2 in No. 17-cv-5220.) In Spencer II, Magistrate Judge Katherine Menendez granted Plaintiff's IFP application and determined that Plaintiff should be required to pay only one filing fee between the two cases, reasoning that Plaintiff likely intended his Complaint in Spencer II to have been an amended pleading in Spencer I. (ECF No. 3 in 17-cv-5220.) Spencer I and Spencer II have now been consolidated. The Court will likewise grant Plaintiff's IFP application in Spencer I. In doing so, the Court notes that, as of April 9, 2018, Plaintiff has paid the single $350 filing fee in full for these matters. (See ECF Nos. 5-7, 9, 11, 18 in No. 17-cv-5035.)

         Because Plaintiff has been granted IFP status, Plaintiff is entitled to have all Defendants in these consolidated cases served by the United States Marshal. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d); Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(c)(3). Marshal service cannot be accomplished, however, until Plaintiff has submitted the documentation necessary for service of process. Plaintiff must, therefore, timely submit a properly completed Marshal Service Form (Form USM-285) for each Defendant. See Lee v. Armontrout, 991 F.2d 487, 489 (8th Cir. 1993) (per curiam) (noting that it is the pro se plaintiff's responsibility to provide proper addresses for service on [the defendants]”). The Court will give Plaintiff 45 days from the date of this Order to complete and return the Marshal Service Forms.[1] It is Plaintiff's responsibility to complete and return Marshal Service Forms for all of the Defendants named in his Complaints in both Spencer I and Spencer II. [2] If Plaintiff fails to comply with this deadline, it will be recommended that these cases be dismissed without prejudice for lack of prosecution. Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b).

         II. PENDING MOTIONS

         A. Motion for Extension of Time

         On July 6, 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion requesting an extension of time in Spencer II. (ECF No. 6 in No. 17-cv-5220.) In his motion, Plaintiff stated: “I am making a request for additional time to re-order all disciplinary reports from Sherburne County Jail, and medical records.” (ECF No. 6 in No. 17-cv-5220.) This motion is denied without prejudice. Plaintiff does not appear to be seeking relief from any deadline established by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Nor does his request appear to be directly tied to any deadline set by the Court.

         B. Motions for Continuances and to Appoint Counsel

         Plaintiff has also filed several motions in these consolidated cases for continuances and to appoint counsel. (ECF No. 31 in 17-cv-5035; ECF Nos. 7, 15 in No. 17-cv-5220.) These motions are also denied without prejudice.

         First, to the extent Plaintiff's motions seek additional time, such requests are moot in light of the Court's ruling above that Plaintiff has 45 days from the date of this Order to complete and return Marshal Service Forms for all of the Defendants named in his Complaints in both Spencer I and Spencer II.

         Second, as the Court previously explained in an Order dated August 30, 2018, in Spencer I, “‘[i]n civil cases, there is no constitutional or statutory right to appointed counsel.'” (ECF No. 28 at 2 in No. 17-cv-5035 (quoting Ward v. Smith, 721 F.3d 940, 942 (8th Cir. 2013)).) In deciding whether appointment of counsel is warranted, courts consider the factual and legal complexity of the case, the plaintiff's ability to investigate facts, whether the proceeding involves conflicting testimony, and the plaintiff's ability to present his claims. Phillips v. Jasper Cty. Jail, 437 F.3d 791, 794 (8th Cir. 2006).

         For the same reasons previously articulated in the Court's August 30, 2018 Order in Spencer I, Plaintiff's renewed requests for appointment of counsel are likewise denied. Again, Plaintiff is able to articulate his positions to the Court and has filed several motions requesting relief throughout the life of these cases; the factual and legal issues in these cases are not uniquely complex; and Plaintiff has demonstrated no specific impediment to representing his own interests. See Trotter v. Lawson, 636 Fed.Appx. 371, 373 (8th Cir. 2016) (per curiam); Ward, 721 F.3d at 942; Phillips, 437 F.3d at 794. Moreover, the Court previously directed the Clerk of Court to provide Plaintiff with a copy of the Court's Pro Se Civil Guidebook, a resource for litigants like Plaintiff who are representing themselves. (ECF No. 23 in 17-cv-5035.)

         The Court appreciates that Plaintiff's incarceration and lack of a formal legal education present certain challenges to self-representation. In Patterson v. Kelley, 902 F.3d 845 (8th Cir. 2018), the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently considered whether the district court abused its discretion in denying a prisoner's request for appointment of counsel in a § 1983 action against state prison officials. On appeal, the prisoner argued that counsel should have been appointed because: (1) “as an inmate, he was unable to interview witnesses and secure relevant information”; (2) “his inartfully worded interrogatories allowed defendants to give evasive answers”; and (3) ...


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