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Jones v. Early


November 25, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sylvia H. Rambo United States District Judge



Before the court is a motion to dismiss the complaint of Plaintiff Alonzo Jones for abandonment of action by Plaintiff, filed on behalf of Defendants, several employees of the Capitol Pavilion Community Corrections Center ("Capitol Pavilion CCC") in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. (Doc. 19.) For the reasons that follow, the motion will be granted.

I. Background

On November 21, 2007, Plaintiff, an inmate formerly incarcerated at the Capitol Pavilion CCC, filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that the Center's medical staff was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. (Doc. 1.) Along with the complaint, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 2.) On December 14, 2007, the court granted Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis and directed service of the complaint on the defendants named therein. (Doc. 8.)

On January 31 and February 5, 2008, waivers of service were returned as to all Defendants. (See Docs. 10-11.) In response to the complaint, Defendants filed a motion for a more definite statement under Rule 12(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, claiming that "Plaintiff's complaint is a 10-page jumble of narrative statements interspersed with hand-written numbered paragraphs and pre-printed forms." (Doc. 14.) The court denied the motion on April 15, 2008, and directed Defendants to file an answer or otherwise respond to Plaintiff's allegations. (Doc. 15.) The court's order was returned as undeliverable as to Plaintiff on April 23, 2008. (See Doc. 16.)

On May 9, 2008, Defendants filed an answer to the complaint. (Doc. 17.) Defendants served Plaintiff with the answer that same day at his address at the Capitol Pavilion CCC. (See Doc. 19, Ex. B.) The answer was returned as undeliverable. (See Doc. 19, Ex. C.)

On August 5, 2008, the court issued a scheduling order which, inter alia, set the deadline for completion of discovery for October 6, 2008. (See Doc. 18.) Defendants served Plaintiff with interrogatories and document requests at the Capitol Pavilion CCC address on September 5, 2008. (See Doc. 19, Ex. D.)

However, these discovery requests were returned as undeliverable. (See Doc. 19, Ex. E.) Defendants sent a courtesy copy of the discovery requests to the address to which Plaintiff had been released from Capitol Pavilion CCC.*fn1 (Doc. 19 at 2.) The cover letter of the discovery requests, dated September 5, 2008, directs Plaintiff to contact Defendants' counsel about scheduling his deposition for this case. (See Doc. 19, Ex. D.) To date, Plaintiff has not responded to Defendants' discovery requests or made himself available for a deposition. Further, the time period for discovery has expired.

II. Discussion

Following the initiation of this action, Plaintiff was provided with a copy of this court's Standing Practice Order which provides in relevant part:

A pro se plaintiff has the affirmative obligation to keep the court informed of his or her current address. If the plaintiff changes his or her address while this lawsuit is being litigated, the plaintiff shall immediately inform the court of the change, in writing. If the court is unable to communicate with the plaintiff because the plaintiff has failed to notify the court of his or her address, the plaintiff will be deemed to have abandoned the lawsuit. (Doc. 7 at 5.)

When a plaintiff fails to prosecute or comply with a court order, the court may dismiss the action pursuant to Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Link v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S. 626, 629 (1962).*fn2 In Link, the United States Supreme Court stated:

The authority of a federal trial court to dismiss a plaintiff's action with prejudice because of his failure to prosecute cannot seriously be doubted. The power to invoke this sanction is necessary in order to prevent undue delays in the disposition of pending cases and to avoid congestion in the calendars of the District Courts. The power is of ancient origin, having its roots in judgments of non-suit and non prosequitur entered at common law . . . . It has been expressly recognized in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) . . . .

Id. at 629-30.

Although it appears that a period of over six months has elapsed since Plaintiff was released from Capitol Pavilion CCC, he has failed to advise the court of his current whereabouts. See supra note 1 at 3. In fact, the court has not received any communication whatsoever from Plaintiff since the filing of the complaint almost a year ago. Consequently, the court has no means of communicating with Plaintiff or discerning his interest in continuing with this action.*fn3

Thus, it is clear that Plaintiff has failed to comply with the court's Standing Practice Order. Plaintiff's failure to provide the court with his current address has clearly delayed and prevented the resolution of this matter. Under these circumstances, it would be a waste of judicial resources to allow this action to continue.

Since the inability of the court to communicate with Plaintiff is solely the result of his own actions and prevents the taking of any other sanctions, this court is satisfied that based on the present circumstances, dismissal for failure to prosecute is warranted. See Poulis v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 747 F.2d 863 (3d Cir. 1984). Consequently, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b), Defendants' motion to dismiss will be granted and Plaintiff's complaint will be dismissed for both failure to prosecute and comply with a court order.

An appropriate order follows.


AND NOW, this 25th day of November, 2008, upon consideration of Defendants' motion to dismiss (Doc. 19), and for the reasons set forth in the accompanying memorandum, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:

1. Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to prosecute (Doc. 19) is GRANTED.

2. Pursuant to Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Plaintiff's complaint is DISMISSED for failure to prosecute and comply with a court order.

3. The motion to compel discovery (Doc. 20) is DENIED as moot.

4. The motion for summary judgment (Doc. 21) is DENIED as moot.

5. The Clerk of Court is directed to CLOSE this case.

6. Any appeal taken from this order will be deemed frivolous, without probable cause, and not taken in good faith. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3).

SYLVIA H. RAMBO United States District Judge

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