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Williams v. Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner

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

June 19, 2017

KELVIN WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS COMMISSIONER; DR. CHEN; ENDOCRINOLOGIST 2-DR. X; DR. ALETA GARDNER; P.A. COOPER; CHRONIC CARE NURSE X; DEPUTY WARDEN SMITH; TERRI YARBROUGH; SMITH STATE PRISON HEALTH CARE SERVICES; LIBRARIAN X; and SGT. NOVY, all in their individual and official capacities, 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 the Court's Order of April 26, 2017, to file an appropriate Amended Complaint. (Doc. 22.) For the reasons set forth below, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS Plaintiff's Complaint, (doc. 1), without prejudice for Plaintiff's failure to follow this Court's Orders and failure to prosecute and DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case. I also RECOMMEND the Court DENY Plaintiff leave to appeal in forma pauperis.

         BACKGROUND

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff attempted to assert a myriad of conditions of confinement claims on behalf of several other inmates. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff also moved to proceed in forma pauperis in this Court. (Doc. 2.) In granting Plaintiff's Motion, the Court informed Plaintiff that the other inmates listed as Plaintiffs in his Complaint could not proceed together in this cause of action. (Doc. 5, p. 1 n.1.) The Court then informed Plaintiff that the allegations in his Complaint were unrelated to each other. Specifically, the Court advised Plaintiff that his deliberate indifference to serious medical needs, religious infringement, lack of access to legal materials, and understaffing claims were not related to each other. (Doc. 14, p. 4.) The Court provided Plaintiff with the opportunity to amend his Complaint and deferred conducting the requisite frivolity review until Plaintiff submitted his Amended Complaint. (Id.) The Court provided instructions to Plaintiff as to how to amend his Complaint properly. Additionally, the Court forewarned Plaintiff that his failure to file an appropriate Amended Complaint could result in the dismissal of this action for failure to prosecute and failure to follow this Court's Orders. (Id. at pp. 4-5 (citing Smith v. Owens, 625 F.App'x 924, 928 (11th Cir. 2015) (upholding this Court's dismissal for failure to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20(a)); Brown v. Tallahassee Police Dep't, 205 F.App'x 802, 802 (11th Cir. 2006) (upholding dismissal 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).) The Court granted the portion of Plaintiff's Motion for miscellaneous relief in which Plaintiff sought an extension of time to file an Amended Complaint. (Doc. 15, p. 4.) The Court directed Plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint within twenty-one (21) days of its Order. (Doc. 19.)

         Plaintiff then filed another Motion for Extension of Time to file his Amended Complaint. (Doc. 20.) On April 26, 2017, the Court granted Plaintiff's Motion and provided him with an additional thirty (30) days in which to file a proper Amended Complaint. The Court laid out specific instructions to Plaintiff as to how he should amend his Complaint and as to the content of his Amended Complaint. (Doc. 22.) However, the Court warned Plaintiff that any future motions for extension of time might not be granted except upon a showing of good cause. (Id. at p. 4.) The Court also forewarned Plaintiff that his failure to submit a proper Amended Complaint could result in the dismissal of this cause of action based on his failure to follow a Court Order and failure to prosecute. (Id.) The Clerk of Court mailed that Order to Plaintiff at his listed address. That Order was not returned to the Court, and the Court has received no notification that this Order did not otherwise reach Plaintiff.

         Instead, Plaintiff filed a pleading objecting to the Magistrate Judge's exercise of jurisdiction. (Doc. 23.) Plaintiff maintains that the Magistrate Judge has acted in collusion with the Defendants because no frivolity review of his Complaint has been had. (Id. at p. 2.) Plaintiff also states he has not consented to the Magistrate Judge's jurisdiction.[1] (Id. at p. 3.)

         DISCUSSION

         The Court must now determine how to address Plaintiff's failure to comply with this Court's directive. For the reasons set forth below, I RECOMMEND 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);[2] 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 file an Amended Complaint setting forth claims that arose from the same transaction or occurrence or series of related transactions or occurrences, the Court is unable to move forward with this case. Additionally, Plaintiff was given ample time to follow the Court's directives, and Plaintiff has not made any effort to do so or to inform the Court as to why he cannot comply with its directives. Indeed, the only action Plaintiff has taken in response to the Court's Order is to file his Objection to the Magistrate Judge's exercise of jurisdiction.

         Thus, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS without prejudice Plaintiff's Complaint, (doc. 1), for failure to prosecute and failure to follow this Court's Order and DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case.

         II. Leave to Appeal i ...


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