BOATWRIGHT v. ASPEN PRODUCTS INC
ORDER DENYING 3 Motion to Appoint Counsel. Ordered by US DISTRICT JUDGE MARC THOMAS TREADWELL on 2/2/2017. (tlh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
ASPEN PRODUCTS, INC., et al.,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 5:17-CV-34 (MTT)
Before the Court is the Plaintiff’s motion to appoint counsel. Doc. 3. The Plaintiff
brought his complaint for employment discrimination and failure to accommodate
pursuant to Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Civil Rights Act of
1991. Doc. 1 at 2-4.
The ADA incorporates several provisions of Title VII, including 42 U.S.C. §
2000e-5. 42 U.S.C. § 12117. As a result, courts have similar discretion to appoint
counsel under the ADA as under Title VII. Donohoe v. Food Lion Stores, Inc., 253
F.Supp.2d 1319, 1321 (N.D. Ga 2003). 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1) authorizes the
appointment of counsel “in such circumstances as the Court may deem just,” and
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), “[t]he court may request an attorney to represent
any person unable to afford counsel” in any case. But “[a]ppointment of counsel in a
civil case is not a constitutional right.” Wahl v. McIver, 773 F.2d 1169, 1174 (11th Cir.
1985). “It is a privilege that is justified only by exceptional circumstances.” Id.; see also
Donohoe, 253 F.Supp.2d at 1321 (“[T]he decision of whether to provide counsel
[pursuant to § 2000e-5] lies solely within the discretion of the court.” (quoting Johnson v.
City of Port Arthur, 892 F.Supp. 835, 839 (E.D.Tex.1995))). In exercising its discretion
regarding whether to appoint counsel for an indigent party, a district court typically
considers several factors, including: (1) the Plaintiff’s ability to afford counsel; (2) the
Plaintiff’s efforts to obtain counsel; (3) the merits of the claim; and (4) whether the legal
or factual complexity of the case warrants the assistance of counsel. Holt v. Ford, 862
F.2d 850, 853 (11th Cir. 1989); Donohoe, 253 F.Supp.2d at 1321.
The Plaintiff fails to show “exceptional circumstances” or “such circumstances as
the Court may deem just” to appoint counsel. Wahl, 773 F.2d at 1174; 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e-5(f)(1). Appointment of counsel is not justified here because (1) the Plaintiff
has not attempted to obtain counsel; and (2) the factual and legal complexities of the
Plaintiff’s claims do not warrant the assistance of counsel. First, the Plaintiff has given
no evidence or assertion that he attempted to seek counsel. Accordingly, this factor
weighs against the Plaintiff.
Second, even if the Plaintiff had previously expended effort to obtain counsel,
nothing suggests that the case is legally or factually complex enough to warrant
appointment of counsel. When evaluating the complexity of a plaintiff’s claim, the
district court must analyze the plaintiff’s ability to present her case without counsel.
Donohoe, 253 F.Supp.2d at 1323. Here, the Plaintiff’s claim is a relatively
straightforward employment discrimination claim involving incidents particular to the
Plaintiff. See Doc. 1 at 3 (citing as the two issues of the case (1) “an unfavorable
decision . . . for nine (9) unexcused absences” and (2) failure to accommodate the
Plaintiff’s injury); see also Wall, 773 F.2d at 1174 (finding no exceptional circumstances
where “essential facts and legal doctrines were ascertainable without the assistance of
court-appointed counsel”); see also Fowler v. Jones, 899 F.2d 1088, 1096 (11th Cir.
1990) (finding no exceptional circumstances where (1) the plaintiff’s claims were
straightforward; (2) the claims were based on incidents mostly witnessed by the plaintiff
himself; and (3) the plaintiff’s pleadings showed a capability of adequately representing
himself). The Court finds that the Plaintiff has the ability to understand the relevant
substantive and procedural issues and is capable of representing himself adequately in
The Plaintiff has not shown the exceptional circumstances necessary to justify
the appointment of counsel. Accordingly, the Plaintiff’s motion to appoint counsel (Doc.
3) is DENIED.
SO ORDERED, this 2nd day of February, 2017.
S/ Marc T. Treadwell
MARC T. TREADWELL, JUDGE
UNITEPD STATES DISTRICT COURT
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?