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Protameen Chemicals, Inc. v. Chinchilla

January 22, 2007

RE: PROTAMEEN CHEMICALS, INC.,
v.
DIEGO CHINCHILLA



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ronald J. Hedges United States Magistrate Judge

CHAMBERS OF RONALD J. HEDGES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. FEDERAL BUILDING AND COURTHOUSE 50 WALNUT STREET NEWARK, NJ 07101 973-645-3827

LETTER-OPINION AND ORDER ORIGINAL FILED WITH CLERK OF THE COURT

Dear Litigants:

INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before me on defendant's application for appointment of pro bono counsel. I have considered the papers submitted on the application. There was no oral argument. Rule 78.

BACKGROUND

On July 5, 2005, plaintiff Protameen Chemicals, Inc. ("plaintiff") filed a Complaint against its former employee, defendant Diego Chinchilla ("defendant"). Plaintiff alleged that defendant breached a Confidentiality and Non-Compete Agreement and the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and that he tortuously interfered with plaintiff's prospective economic advantage. On August 2, 2005, defendant filed an Answer.

DISCUSSION

District courts are vested with discretion to appoint counsel for indigent litigants in civil cases. See 28 U.S.C. § I 915(e)(l). These litigants, however, do not have a right to appointed counsel. Tabron v. Grace, 6 F.3d 147, 153 (3d Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1196 (1994). The Third Circuit has enumerated factors that the court should consider when exercising its discretion. First, the court should ascertain the merits of a litigant's claim. If the court determines that the claim has "some merit in fact and law," it should consider the following six factors, including: (1) the litigant's ability to present his case; (2) the complexity of the legal issues; (3) the extent of factual discovery, and consequently the litigant's ability to investigate and cooperate with rules of discovery; (4) the extent by which the case may develop on credibility determinations; (5) if expert testimony is necessary, and; (6) whether the litigant can afford to retain counsel on his own accord. Tabron, 6 F.3d at 155-56; see Parham v. Jolrnson, 126 F.3d 454, 457 (3d Cir. 1997). While the factors are not exhaustive, these serve as an analytical guide that the court may utilize. Parham, 126 F.3d at 458.

A. Merit of Litigant's Claim in "Fact and Law"

The critical question that the court must consider is whether the litigant's claim has merit in fact and law. See Tabron, 6 F.3d at 158. Defendant denied the majority of plaintiff's allegations. Defendant also asserted multiple affirmative defenses, including claims of slander, libel, trade libel and unfair competition. I am satisfied that defendant's claim has merit.

B. Tabron /Parham Factors

1. Defendant's Ability to ...


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