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Heimbach v. Lehigh County Department of Corrections

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

April 3, 2014

JUSTIN HEIMBACH, Plaintiff,
v.
LEHIGH COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et. al, Defendants.

OPINION

JOEL H. SLOMSKY, Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

For the majority of this litigation, Plaintiff has consistently failed to respond to Motions and Court Orders. His refusal to engage in the litigation process has resulted in the Court granting as uncontested a Motion to Dismiss his claims against two defendants. (Doc. No. 19.) On September 17, 2013, the remaining defendants filed a Motion for Involuntary Dismissal under Rule 41(b). (Doc. No. 22.) This Motion is also uncontested. For reasons that follow, the Court will grant Defendants' Motion for Involuntary Dismissal.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On March 28, 2013, Justin Heimbach ("Plaintiff"), a former prisoner, filed a Complaint against the Lehigh County Department of Corrections, alleging violations of his constitutional rights while he was incarcerated there. (Doc. No. 5.) On April 29, 2013, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint removing Lehigh County Department of Corrections as a defendant and naming in its place several employees of Lehigh County Prison, including: Nurse Roseanne Rehrig, Sergeant John Urban, Sergeant Jerad Cline, Corrections Officer Jonathan Willtraut, Corrections Officer Christopher Denker, Corrections Officer Ronald Willever, Corrections Officer Chad Pongracz, Head Nurse Nicole Heffner, and Warden Dale Meisel (collectively, "Defendants"). (Doc. No. 6.) In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Rehrig gave Plaintiff incorrect medications, causing him to black out temporarily. (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff further contends that he suffers from back, neck, and head pain as a result of being assaulted by Defendants Willever, Willtraut, Denker, Pongracz, Urban, and Cline. (Id.) According to Plaintiff, he reported the incidents to Defendants Heffner and Meisel, but their response led him to believe that they were "trying to cover up this whole matter." (Id. at 4.) On May 20, 2013, Plaintiff sent a letter to the Clerk of Court clarifying that his Amended Complaint listed multiple defendants. (Doc. No. 10.)

On May 28, 2013, Defendants Heffner and Rehrig filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint for Failure to State a Claim. (Doc. No. 12.) Plaintiff failed to respond to Defendants Heffner and Rehrig's Motion to Dismiss. On June 24, 2013, the Court issued an Order requiring Plaintiff to respond to the Motion by July 8, 2013. (Doc. No. 16.) On July 1, 2013, the remaining defendants, Defendants Cline, Denker, Meisel, Pongracz, Urban, Willever, and Willtraut ("Defendants"), filed an Answer to the Amended Complaint. (Doc. No. 17.) On July 18, 2013, after receiving no response from Plaintiff, the Court filed an Order granting Defendants Heffner and Rehrig's Motion to Dismiss as uncontested, thereby dismissing Defendants Heffner and Rehrig as parties to the action.[1] (Doc. No. 19.)

On July 25, 2013, Plaintiff's copy of the Order granting Defendants Rehrig and Heffner's Motion to Dismiss was returned to the Court by the U.S. Postal Service. Apparently, Plaintiff was released from custody but did not notify the Court of his new address. However, the Court obtained his new address from a Lehigh County Prison employee. On August 28, 2013, the Court entered an Order stating:

AND NOW, this 28th day of August 2013, the Court having been advised by an employee of Lehigh County Prison that Plaintiff has been released from custody and is residing at the address noted below, it is ORDERED as follows:
1. The Clerk of Court shall change Plaintiff's address of record to: [Redacted]
2. The Clerk of Court shall mail a copy of this Order to the address listed above, along with a copy of the Court's Orders dated June 24, 2013 (Doc. No. 16) and July 18, 2013 (Doc. No. 19.)
3. Upon receipt of this Order, Plaintiff shall inform the Court by mail by September 30, 2013 whether he wishes to proceed with this lawsuit.
4. If Plaintiff wishes to proceed, Plaintiff must inform the Clerk of Court of any change of his address, so that he may receive court orders or any other filings in the record by mail.

(Doc. No. 20.) On September 17, 2013, the copy of the August 28th, 2013 Order was returned marked "REFUSED" by the U.S. Postal Service. Following this refusal, Defendants filed a Motion for Involuntary Dismissal of Under Rule 41(b) based on Plaintiff's Failure to Comply with Order Dated August 28, 2013. (Doc. No. 22.) In the Motion, Defendants assert that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint should be dismissed based on Plaintiff's failure ...


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