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ARGUED MAY 29, 2009

Before RIPPLE, ROVNER and SYKES, Circuit Judges.

Fabian Santiago was a prisoner at the Menard Correctional Center in Illinois (“Menard”), where he was assaulted on several occasions. He filed this pro se action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against certain officers and employees of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), alleging that they had violated his constitutional rights by failing to protect him from other inmates, failing to provide him with medical care and retaliating against him for speaking out against the IDOC. The court dismissed three of the seven claims that Mr. Santiago brought for failure to state a claim. During discovery, Mr. Santiago repeatedly requested that the court recruit counsel, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1).*fn1 However, the court declined to do so until three months before trial, which was more than twenty months after discovery had closed. After a two-day trial, a jury found in favor of the defendants, and Mr. Santiago brought this appeal. Because we believe that the district court erred in dismissing Count Four of Mr. Santiago’s complaint and abused its discretion by not recruiting counsel for Mr. Santiago during discovery, we affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment of the district court and remand this case for further proceedings.

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