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Mitchell v. Sikes

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

August 5, 2019

KARL MITCHELL, Plaintiff,
v.
FNU SIKES; and MARTY ALLEN, Defendants.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BENJAMIN W. CHEESBRO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff has failed to update his address and has failed to comply with multiple Court Orders requiring him to do the same. The Court is, therefore, is unable to move forward with this case. 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, DENY Plaintiff's Motions for Temporary Restraining Orders, docs. 3, 5, 10, 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 initially filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, contesting, among other things, certain conditions of his confinement at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia. Doc. 1. That court then transferred Plaintiff's claims arising from events occurring at Georgia State Prison to this District. Doc. 14. Prior to transferring this action, the Northern District granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis and notified Plaintiff that failure to keep the Court apprised of his address at all times could result in dismissal of his Complaint. Doc. 6.

         On June 20, 2019, this Court ordered Plaintiff to confirm that he was still incarcerated at Georgia State Prison, as the Georgia Department of Corrections' website indicated that he was released from state custody, but Plaintiff had not informed the Court of his release. Doc. 17. That Order was returned as undeliverable on July 1, 2019 and marked as “unable to forward.” Doc. 18. The Court's June 20, 2019 Order required Plaintiff to file a notice with this Court confirming his current address by July 11, 2019. Doc. 17 at 2. As of the date of this Order, Plaintiff has not filed any response to that Order.

         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 § 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 § 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 Order, the Court is unable to move forward with this case. Moreover, though Plaintiff was given adequate 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 a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order on June 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 i ...


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