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Lucien v. Fugar

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 2, 2019

RHEA B. LUCIEN
v.
CHRISTIAN VICTOR FUGAR ET AL.

         SECTION: “H”

          ORDER AND REASONS

          JANE TRICHE MILAZZO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Defendant Evelyn Fugar's Motion appealing the Magistrate Judge's June 6, 2019 Order that denied Fugar's Motion to Appoint Counsel (Doc. 26). For the following reasons, the Motion is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         This is a contract dispute arising out of a loan that Plaintiff Rhea Lucien allegedly made to Defendants Christian and Evelyn Fugar to fund the construction of a school in Ghana. On April 30, 2019, Defendant Evelyn Fugar, a resident of Texas, filed a Motion to Appoint Counsel.[1] In support of her Motion, she stated: “I do not know what to do or where to start. I absolutely don't have anything to do with this case. I got thrown under the bus.”[2]

         This Court referred the Motion to Appoint Counsel to the Magistrate Judge pursuant to Local Rule 73 and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).[3] The Magistrate Judge then ordered Evelyn Fugar to “certify in writing the steps she has taken to secure counsel.”[4] Fugar did so, explaining in a May 20, 2019 filing that she had reached out to two lawyers.[5] Fugar identified one of the lawyers as a member of Stone Pigman's New Orleans office, but added that “because it was very expensive . . . they are not able to represent or help me.”[6] Fugar further explained that she had “contacted another lawyer here in Houston . . . but she told me she could not [represent me] because of where the case is.”[7] Fugar did not say whether she contacted any other attorney in her efforts to obtain representation in this matter.

         In a June 6, 2019 Order and Reasons, the Magistrate Judge denied Fugar's Motion. The Magistrate Judge found that “[t]he resolution of the claim is relatively simple, i.e. did Fugar pay the debt back that was borrowed or not.”[8]The Magistrate Judge further noted that “[t]he claim is not complex, Fugar is able to defend herself, [and] there would be minimal if any investigation” necessary to litigate the suit.[9] Accordingly, the Magistrate Judge held that “there are no exceptional circumstances favoring the appointment of counsel.”[10]

         On June 20, 2019, Evelyn Fugar filed the instant Motion appealing the Magistrate Judge's denial of Fugar's request for an appointment of counsel.[11]The Court will now consider the Motion.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A district judge may refer any non-dispositive pretrial matter to a United States Magistrate Judge.[12] District judges must consider timely objections to rulings by magistrates on such matters, and they must “modify or set aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or contrary to law.”[13] “A finding is clearly erroneous only if it is implausible in the light of the record considered as a whole.”[14] More specifically, “[a]n order is clearly erroneous if the court ‘is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.'”[15]

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         In support of her Motion, Evelyn Fugar states:

1. I am being accused of owing a huge amount of money that I know nothing about.
2. Legal terms and vocabularies are hard to understand and be able to answer to. Can I please be granted counsel to help ...

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