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Johnson v. Jackson

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

October 2, 2017

CARLOS RENARDO JOHNSON, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
SANDY JACKSON; THEVONZA BOBBIT; SHARP; WISE; and SGT. ANTHONY, 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 July 28, 2017, to furnish the Court with his prison trust fund account statement and his consent to collection of fees from that account. (Doc. 8.) For the following reasons, I RECOMMEND that Plaintiff's Complaint and Amended Complaint, (docs. 1, 6), be DISMISSED without prejudice for Plaintiff's failure to follow this Court's Orders and failure to prosecute. I further RECOMMEND that Plaintiff be denied leave to appeal in forma pauperis.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, an inmate at Augusta State Prison in Grovetown, Georgia, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 contesting certain conditions of his confinement at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia. (Doc. 1.) On July 28, 2017, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 8.) In that Order, the Court instructed Plaintiff to furnish the Court with his 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 August 28, 2017, 2015, the Court would dismiss this case. (Id. at p. 4.) The Court mailed that Order to Plaintiff at the most recent address it has for him. (Doc. 4.) However, the Court has not received any pleading from Plaintiff since that Order. Indeed, Plaintiff has not taken any action in this case after filing this Amended Complaint more than two months ago.

         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 that the Complaint be dismissed and that Plaintiff be denied 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 Fed.Appx. 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 Fed.Appx. 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 Fed.Appx. 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 Fed.Appx. 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 Fed.Appx. 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 Fed.Appx. at 619; see also Coleman, 433 Fed.Appx. at 719; Brown, 205 Fed.Appx. 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 Fed.Appx. 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 Fed.Appx. 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 Fed.Appx. 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 provide the Court with his prison trust fund account statement and his consent to collection of fees, the Court has no means to collect the filing fees in this case as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Furthermore, with Plaintiff not having taken any action on this case in over two months, he has failed to diligently prosecute his claims. Thus, Plaintiff has demonstrated a clear record of delay and disregard for this Court's Orders, and a sanction other than dismissal would not suffice to remedy his deficiencies.

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

         II. Leave to Appeal In Forma Pauperis.

         The Court should also deny Plaintiff leave to appeal in forma pauperis. Though Plaintiff has, of course, not yet filed a notice of appeal, it is proper to address these issues in the Court's order of dismissal. See Fed. R. App. P. 24(a)(3) (trial court may certify that appeal of party proceeding in forma pauperis is not taken in good faith “before or after the notice of appeal is filed”).

         An appeal cannot be taken in forma pauperis if the trial court certifies that the appeal is not taken in good faith. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3); Fed. R. App. P. 24(a)(3). Good faith in this context must be judged by an objective standard. Busch v. Cty. of Volusia, 189 F.R.D. 687, 691 (M.D. Fla. 1999). A party does not proceed in good faith when he seeks to advance a frivolous claim or argument. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 445 (1962). A claim or argument is frivolous when it appears the factual allegations are clearly baseless or the legal theories are indisputably meritless. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989); Carroll v. Gross, 984 F.2d 392, 393 (11th Cir. 1993). Or, stated another way, an in forma pauperis action is frivolous and, thus, not brought in good faith, if it is ...


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