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Rodney v. McFarrin

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

October 25, 2017

KEEN RODNEY, Plaintiff,
v.
REBECCA MCFARRIN; and T. QUINN, Defendants.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to contest certain events occurring in McIntosh County, Georgia. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff also filed a Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. (Doc. 2.) This Court deferred ruling on Plaintiff's Motion by Order dated August 25, 2017, as the Court could not ascertain whether Plaintiff had the ability to pay the requisite filing fee based on his Motion alone. (Doc. 4.) The Court ordered Plaintiff to correct the deficiencies in his Motion or to pay the entire filing fee within fourteen (14) days of its Order and warned Plaintiff that his failure to do so would result in the dismissal of his Complaint. (Id. at pp. 2-3.)

         For the reasons which follow, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis, (doc. 2). For these same reasons, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS without prejudice Plaintiff's Complaint based on his failure to follow this Court's Order and DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal. Additionally, I RECOMMEND the Court DENY Plaintiff leave to appeal in forma pauperis.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff brings his Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his Complaint, Plaintiff asserts Defendants violated his right to due process by refusing to provide him with any information about his case. (Doc. 1, pp. 3-4.) Plaintiff contends he was denied the ability to enter a plea in McIntosh County Superior Court and was removed from court and told not to return after he requested information concerning his indictment. Plaintiff also contends he was told he would get a portion of his bail refunded to him once he appeared in court. (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff seeks to have his bail amount returned to him and to be reimbursed for his travel from New York to Georgia for court appearances. (Id. at p. 5.)

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Plaintiff seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), the Court may authorize the filing of a civil lawsuit without the prepayment of fees if the plaintiff submits an affidavit that includes a statement of all of his assets, shows an inability to pay the filing fee, and also includes a statement of the nature of the action which shows that he is entitled to redress. Even if the plaintiff proves indigence, the Court must dismiss the action if it is frivolous or malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii). Additionally, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review a complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity. Upon such screening, the Court must dismiss a complaint, or any portion thereof, that is frivolous or malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or which seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         The Court looks to the instructions for pleading contained in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when reviewing a Complaint on an application to proceed in forma pauperis. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 (“A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain [among other things] . . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”); Fed.R.Civ.P. 10 (requiring that claims be set forth in numbered paragraphs, each limited to a single set of circumstances). Further, a claim is frivolous under Section 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) “if it is ‘without arguable merit either in law or fact.'” Napier v. Preslicka, 314 F.3d 528, 531 (11th Cir. 2002) (quoting Bilal v. Driver, 251 F.3d 1346, 1349 (11th Cir. 2001)).

         Whether a complaint fails to state a claim under Section 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard applicable to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Thompson v. Rundle, 393 F. App'x 675, 678 (11th Cir. 2010). Under that standard, this Court must determine whether the complaint contains “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A plaintiff must assert “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not” suffice. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Section 1915 also “accords judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Bilal, 251 F.3d at 1349 (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989)).

         In its analysis, the Court will abide by the long-standing principle that the pleadings of unrepresented parties are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys and, therefore, must be liberally construed. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Boxer X v. Harris, 437 F.3d 1107, 1110 (11th Cir. 2006) (“Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys. . . .”) (quoting Hughes v. Lott, 350 F.3d 1157, 1160 (11th Cir. 2003)). However, Plaintiff's unrepresented status will not excuse mistakes regarding procedural rules. McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993) (“We have never suggested that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel.”).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Dismissal for Failure to Follow this Court's Orders

         As noted above, the Court directed Plaintiff to either complete and return the required documents to proceed in forma pauperis or to pay the entire filing fee within fourteen (14) days of its August 25, 2017, Order. (Doc. 4, pp. 2-3.) Plaintiff was cautioned that his failure “to complete and return the required documents by September 9, 2017, or pay the entire fee[]” would cause the Court to “presume that Plaintiff does not intend to pursue this action and will dismiss this case without prejudice.” (Id. at p. 2 (emphases in original).) Subsequent to that Order, Plaintiff filed two “Affidavits of Fact”. (Docs. 6, 7.) Nothing in these filings is responsive to this Court's Order. Additionally, Plaintiff failed to move to proceed in forma pauperis using the forms attached to that Order, and he failed to pay the entire filing fee.

         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); 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)). ...


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