United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division
Jeffrey S. Stroman, Plaintiff,
York County Department of Social Services, Defendant.
J. GOSSETT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Jeffrey S. Stroman, a self-represented litigant, filed this
employment action pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities
Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et
seq., and the Family and Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 2601, et
seq. This matter is before the court on the
plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel. (ECF No.
there is no constitutional right to appointed counsel in
civil actions, such as FMLA and ADA cases. See,
e.g., Mallard v. United States District
Court, 490 U.S. 296, 302 (1989); Cook v.
Bounds, 518 F.2d 779, 780 (4th Cir. 1975); Johnson
v. City of Port Arthur, 892 F.Supp. 835, 840 (E.D. Tex.
1995) (“[C]ourts utilize the same analysis for
appointment of counsel requests in ADA cases as in Title VII
cases.”); Ojelade v. Unity Health Care, Inc.,
962 F.Supp.2d 258, 261 (D.D.C. 2013) (citing Title VII cases
in an FMLA action). Whether to grant a litigant's request
for appointment of counsel is within the discretion of the
district courts. See Ferrelli v. River Manor Health Care
Ctr., 323 F.3d 196 (2d Cir. 2003); Young, 911
F.Supp. at 211.
actions, such as those brought under Title VII or the ADA,
provide statutory discretionary authority for a litigant to
request appointment of counsel “in such circumstances
as the court may deem just.” 42 U.S.C. §
2000e-5(f)(1); see also 42 U.S.C. § 12117(a)
(ADA) (applying by reference the powers, remedies, and
procedures in § 2000e-5). However, the circumstances
under which a litigant is entitled to appointed counsel are
limited. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1)
(“Upon application by the complainant and in such
circumstances as the court may deem just, the court may
appoint an attorney for such complainant.”);
Jason, 872 F.Supp. at 1579. Section 1915(e)(1)
provides courts discretion to “request an attorney to
represent any person unable to afford counsel.”
Additionally, a plaintiff must present “exceptional
circumstances.” Miller v. Simmons, 925 F.2d
962, 966 (4th Cir. 1987) (citing Cook v. Bounds, 518
F.2d 779 (4th Cir. 1975)).
the United States Supreme Court nor the Court of Appeals for
the Fourth Circuit has considered how a district court should
exercise its discretion to appoint counsel. Other circuits
considering appointment of counsel under § 2000e-5(f)(1)
have stated that a district court should consider the
following factors: (1) the plaintiff's financial
resources; (2) the efforts of the plaintiff to retain
counsel; and (3) the merits of the plaintiff's case.
See, e.g., Gonzalez v. Carlin, 907
F.2d 573, 580 (5th Cir. 1990); Poindexter v. Fed. Bureau
of Investigation, 737 F.2d 1173, 1185 (D.C. Cir. 1984);
Bradshaw v. Zoological Soc'y, 662 F.2d 1301,
1318 (9th Cir. 1981). Some circuits have also considered the
plaintiff's ability to represent himself. See Hunter
v. Dep't of Air Force Agency, 846 F.2d 1314, 1317
(11th Cir. 1988); Poindexter, 737 F.2d at 1185.
Finding this authority persuasive, as have other courts in
this circuit, this court will review the plaintiff's
request for appointment of counsel under these four factors.
See Tyson v. Pitt Cnty. Gov't, 919 F.Supp. 205,
207 (E.D. N.C. 1996); Young, 911 F.Supp. at 211.
review of the file, the court has determined that while the
first factor may weigh in the plaintiff's favor, the
second, third, and fourth factors weigh heavily against
appointment of counsel. Although the plaintiffs motion
summarily states that he has been “diligent” in
his efforts to obtain counsel but has not been successful, he
provides no further details of such efforts to the court.
plaintiff also contends that his current health condition
prevents him from litigating his case, referencing the claims
he presented in his Complaint. However, the plaintiff has
presented no current medical evidence supporting a finding
that any health issues would interfere with his ability to
prosecute his claims. Upon review of the file, the plaintiffs
filings thus far demonstrate a capacity to present his
claims. Based on the pleadings before the court, the
plaintiff writes well and appears capable of thoroughly and
competently addressing the legal issues. Accordingly, the
plaintiff has failed to present any exceptional or unusual
circumstances at this time that would justify his request for
counsel under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), nor would the
plaintiff be denied due process if his request were not
granted. Accordingly, the plaintiffs request for a
discretionary appointment of counsel is denied.