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Treadwell v. Allen

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

July 8, 2019

DEANTHONY TREADWELL a/k/a DAVID JAMELSON, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN ALLEN, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BENJAMIN W. CHEESBRO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's failure to update his address and comply with multiple Court Orders requiring him to do the same. For the following reasons, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS the 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 and enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal. I further RECOMMEND the Court DENY Plaintiff leave to appeal in forma pauperis.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Complaint to contest certain events allegedly occurring while he was incarcerated at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia. Doc. 1. Plaintiff then filed two supplements to this Complaint, contesting events occurring at Georgia Diagnostic & Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia. Docs. 8, 13. On February 21, 2018, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis and instructed Plaintiff that 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, without prejudice.” Doc. 9 at 3.

         Subsequently, the Clerk of Court twice attempted to mail Plaintiff a copy of a July 19, 2018 Order directing payments to be made from Plaintiff's prison account, and on both occasions, the mail was returned as undeliverable. Docs. 17, 18. On June 5, 2019, the Court ordered Plaintiff to file a notice by June 26, 2019, either confirming that he remains incarcerated at Georgia Diagnostic & Classification Prison or providing the Court with his current address. Doc. 20. The Court advised Plaintiff that failure to comply with that Order would result in his Complaint being dismissed without prejudice. Id. The Clerk of Court mailed a copy of Court's June 5, 2019 Order to Plaintiff's last known address, and the mail was returned as undeliverable. Doc. 21. Plaintiff has not filed any document in this case since April 27, 2018.

         DISCUSSION

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

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

         A district court may dismiss claims sua sponte pursuant to either Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 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 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)).[1] 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 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 file a response to this Court's Orders, the Court is unable to move forward with this case. Moreover, though Plaintiff was given ample time to follow the Court's directives, he has not made any effort to do so or to inform the Court as to why he cannot comply with its directives. Additionally, Plaintiff has not provided the Court with his current address. Indeed, Plaintiff has not taken any action in this case since filing his Amended Complaint on April 27, 2018.

         Thus, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS without prejudice Plaintiff's Complaint, doc. 1, for failure to prosecute and failure to follow this Court's Orders and DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal.

         II. Leave to Appeal in Forma Pauperis

         The Court should also deny Plaintiff leave to appeal in forma pauperis. Though Plaintiff has 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 ...


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