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Grazeta v. Bryson

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Statesboro Division

May 3, 2017

ADAL GRAZETA, Plaintiff,
v.
HOMER BRYSON; WARDEN ROBERT TOOLE; DOUG WILLIAMS; ERIC SMOKES; DERIC GODREY; and MRS. WATKINS, Defendants.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's failure to comply with this Court's Order to keep the Court apprised of any change in his address and to return his prison trust fund account statement. For the following reasons, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS Plaintiff's Complaint, (doc. 1), without prejudice for Plaintiff's failure to prosecute and failure to follow this Court's Orders. I further RECOMMEND that the Court DENY Plaintiff leave to appeal in forma pauperis.

         BACKGROUND

         On October 24, 2016, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint contesting certain conditions of his confinement while housed at Smith State Prison in Glennville, Georgia. (Doc. 1.) On December 16, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. (Doc. 14.) On December 29, 2016, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 16.) In that Order, the Court instructed Plaintiff to furnish the Court with the statement of his prison trust fund account and the consent to collection of fees from that account pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). (Id. at pp. 2-3.) The Court explained that, if Plaintiff failed to respond to the Court's Order by January 30, 2017, the Court would dismiss this case. (Id. at p. 4.) Although Plaintiff returned his consent to collection of fees form, he failed to return his prison trust fund account form. (Doc. 21.) Plaintiff averred that he “forwarded the Prisoner Trust Fund Account Statement to the Prison's business/accounting office for completion on January 6, 2017”, but that “form has yet to be returned to me.” (Doc. 21-1.) Accordingly, by Order dated March 22, 2017, the Court gave Plaintiff an additional opportunity to submit his properly completed prison trust fund account statement. (Doc. 32.) The Court ordered Plaintiff to return his prison trust fund account statement within fourteen (14) days of that Order and warned that, if Plaintiff failed to do so, the Court would dismiss his case for failure to prosecute and failure to follow a Court Order.

         Additionally, in the Court's December 29, 2016, Order granting Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma papueris, the Court ordered Plaintiff to immediately inform this Court in writing of any change in his address. (Id. at p. 3.) The Court emphasized that, should Plaintiff fail to comply with this directive, the Court would dismiss his case. Id. The Clerk of the Court mailed its March 22, 2017, Order to Plaintiff at his last known place of residence, Smith State Prison in Glennville, Georgia. However, the mail was returned as undeliverable. (Doc. 33.) Plaintiff has not notified the Court of his change of address or made any effort to inform the Court of his whereabouts.

         DISCUSSION

         The Court must now determine how to address Plaintiff's failure to comply with this Court's directives. For the reasons set forth below, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS Plaintiff's Complaint without prejudice and DENY Plaintiff leave to appeal in forma pauperis.

         I. Dismissal for Failure to Prosecute and Failure to Follow this Court's Order

         A district court may dismiss a plaintiff's claims sua sponte pursuant to either Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) (“Rule 41(b)”) or the court's inherent authority to manage its docket. Link v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S. 626 (1962);[1] Coleman v. St. Lucie Cty. Jail, 433 F. App'x 716, 718 (11th Cir. 2011) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b) and Betty K Agencies, Ltd. v. M/V MONADA, 432 F.3d 1333, 1337 (11th Cir. 2005)). In particular, Rule 41(b) allows for the involuntary dismissal of a plaintiff's claims where he has failed to prosecute those claims, comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or local rules, or follow a court order. Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b); see also Coleman, 433 F. App'x at 718; Sanders v. Barrett, No. 05-12660, 2005 WL 2640979, at *1 (11th Cir. Oct. 17, 2005) (citing Kilgo v. Ricks, 983 F.2d 189, 192 (11th Cir. 1993)); cf. Local R. 41.1(b) (“[T]he assigned Judge may, after notice to counsel of record, sua sponte . . . dismiss any action for want of prosecution, with or without prejudice[, ] . . . [based on] willful disobedience or neglect of any order of the Court.” (emphasis omitted)). Additionally, a district court's “power to dismiss is an inherent aspect of its authority to enforce its orders and ensure prompt disposition of lawsuits.” Brown v. Tallahassee Police Dep't, 205 F. App'x 802, 802 (11th Cir. 2006) (quoting Jones v. Graham, 709 F.2d 1457, 1458 (11th Cir. 1983)).

         It is true that dismissal with prejudice for failure to prosecute is a “sanction . . . to be utilized only in extreme situations” and requires that a court “(1) conclud[e] a clear record of delay or willful contempt exists; and (2) mak[e] an implicit or explicit finding that lesser sanctions would not suffice.” Thomas v. Montgomery Cty. Bd. of Educ., 170 F. App'x 623, 625-26 (11th Cir. 2006) (quoting Morewitz v. West of Eng. Ship Owners Mut. Prot. & Indem. Ass'n (Lux.), 62 F.3d 1356, 1366 (11th Cir. 1995)); see also Taylor v. Spaziano, 251 F. App'x 616, 619 (11th Cir. 2007) (citing Morewitz, 62 F.3d at 1366). By contrast, dismissal without prejudice for failure to prosecute is not an adjudication on the merits, and, therefore, courts are afforded greater discretion in dismissing claims in this manner. Taylor, 251 F. App'x at 619; see also Coleman, 433 F. App'x at 719; Brown, 205 F. App'x at 802-03.

         While the Court exercises its discretion to dismiss cases with caution, dismissal of this action without prejudice is warranted. See Coleman, 433 F. App'x at 719 (upholding dismissal without prejudice for failure to prosecute Section 1983 complaint, where plaintiff did not respond to court order to supply defendant's current address for purpose of service); Taylor, 251 F. App'x at 620-21 (upholding dismissal without prejudice for failure to prosecute because plaintiffs insisted on going forward with deficient amended complaint rather than complying, or seeking an extension of time to comply, with court's order to file second amended complaint); Brown, 205 F. App'x at 802-03 (upholding dismissal without prejudice for failure to prosecute Section 1983 claims, where plaintiff failed to follow court order to file amended complaint and court had informed plaintiff that noncompliance could lead to dismissal). With Plaintiff having failed to update the Court with his current address, the Court has no means by which it can communicate with Plaintiff. Thus, the Court is unable to move forward with this case.

         Moreover, Plaintiff was given ample time to follow the Court's directive to submit his prison trust fund account statement, and Plaintiff has again failed to do so.

         Thus, the Court should DISMISS Plaintiff's Complaint, (doc. 1), without prejudice for failure to prosecute and failure to follow this Court's Orders, and this case should be CLOSED.

         II. Leave to Appeal i ...


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