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Yarborough v. Rogers State Prison

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

October 27, 2017

JEROME WILLIAM YARBOROUGH, Plaintiff,
v.
ROGERS STATE PRISON; CLAY TATUM; and JENNIFER CLARK, 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 to keep the Court apprised of any change in his address. 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 and DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case.

         BACKGROUND

         On June 15, 2017, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint contesting the conditions of his confinement pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1.) With his Complaint, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. (Doc. 2.) On June 29, 2017, the Court granted that Motion and directed Plaintiff to submit properly filled out Trust Account Statement and Consent to Collection of Fees from Trust Account forms. (Doc. 4.) In that Order, the Court also 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 Court mailed a copy of this Order to Plaintiff at his last known place of residence, Rogers State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia. Plaintiff then timely submitted his Consent to Collection of Fees, (doc. 5), but failed to also submit the required Trust Account Statement. On September 28, 2017, the Court provided Plaintiff with one more opportunity to properly fill out and return the Trust Account Statement and advised him that failure to return it on or before October 12, 2017, would result in dismissal of his case. (Doc. 6.) The Clerk of Court mailed a copy of this Order to Rogers State Prison. On October 19, 2017, however, the mail was returned as undeliverable because Plaintiff is no longer located there. (Doc. 7.)

         Plaintiff has not notified the Court of his change of address or made any effort to inform the Court of his whereabouts. Indeed, Plaintiff has not taken any action in this case since he filed his Consent to Collection of Fees form over 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 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 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.”). 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 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 has failed to diligently prosecute his claims, as he has not taken any action in this case in over two months. Indeed, Plaintiff failed to timely submit his Trust Account Statement despite the Court specifically warning him that failure to do so would result in dismissal of his case.

         Accordingly, the Court should DISMISS Plaintiff's Complaint without prejudice.

         II. Leave to Appeal i ...


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