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Lampley v. Edge

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

July 8, 2019

ARIYANNA LAMPLEY, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN D. EDGE, Respondent.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BENJAMIN W. CHEESBRO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court upon Petitioner Ariyanna Lampley's (“Lampley”) failure to comply with the Court's November 2, 2018 Order. Doc. 3. For the following reasons, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS Lampley's Petition without prejudice for failure to follow the Court's Order, DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal, and DENY Lampley leave to appeal in forma pauperis.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         On September 17, 2018, Lampley filed his 28 U.S.C. § 2241 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. Doc. 1. After Lampley paid the requisite filing fee, the Court directed service of Lampley's Petition on November 2, 2018 and advised Lampley he was to “immediately inform this Court in writing of any change of address. Failure to do so will result in dismissal of this case.” Doc. 3 at 2. Lampley filed a “notice of change of address” to notify the Court he was being transferred to another facility, though he could not disclose that facility's name or address, on November 26, 2018. Doc. 7.

         The Court granted Respondent an extension of time to file his return on the Court's show cause Order. Doc. 9. On January 11, 2019, the Court administratively stayed the proceedings in this case due to the lapse in federal appropriations and later lifted that stay. Docs. 11, 13. The Court's Orders were sent to Lampley at the most recent address the Court has for him, and Lampley's mail was returned as undeliverable with the notations “Return to Sender, Refused, Unable to Forward, ” “Return to Sender, Refused, Unable to Forward, ” and “Return to Sender, Not Deliverable as Addressed, Unable to Forward, ” respectively. Docs. 12, 14, 15. Lampley has made no filings in this case in over seven months' time, including anything informing this Court of his new address.

         DISCUSSION

         The Court must now determine how to address Lampley's failure to comply with this Court's Order. For the reasons set forth below, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS without prejudice Lampley's Petition, DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal, and DENY Lampley leave to appeal in forma pauperis.

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

         A district court may dismiss a petitioner's claims for failure to prosecute pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) (“Rule 41(b)”) and 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 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 petitioner'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, where plaintiff did not respond to court order to supply defendant's current address for purpose of service); Brown, 205 Fed.Appx. at 802-03 (upholding dismissal without prejudice for failure to prosecute, where plaintiff failed to follow court order to file amended complaint and court had informed plaintiff that noncompliance could lead to dismissal).

         Lampley has not updated the Court with his current address, despite the Court's instruction to him regarding this obligation. Doc. 3 at 2. While the Court notes Lampley notified the Court he was being transferred, doc. 7, he has not provided the Court with his updated address, in writing, as required. The Court also notes Lampley directed the Court to check the Bureau of Prisons' website before mailing filings to him. Id. However, Lampley has the obligation of informing this Court of his updated address, not the Court, and he has failed to do so. The Court has no means by which it can communicate with Lampley and is unable to move forward with this case. Thus, the Court should DISMISS without prejudice Lampley's § 2241 Petition. Doc. 1.

         II. Leave to Appeal in Forma Pauperis

         The Court should also deny Lampley leave to appeal in forma pauperis. Though Lampley has not yet filed a notice of appeal, it would be appropriate to address that issue in the Court's order of dismissal. See Fed. R. App. P. 24(a)(3) (trial court may certify that appeal is not ...


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