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Tiebout v. Shaw

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

January 24, 2017


          Carlson Magistrate Judge


          Yvette Kane, District Judge


         On November 7, 2016, pro se Plaintiff John Tiebout initiated the above-captioned action by filing a complaint and a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. Nos. 1, 2.) On November 8, 2016, upon screening the complaint as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, Magistrate Judge Carlson entered a Report and Recommendation in which he recommended dismissal of the complaint without prejudice for failure to state a claim under to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Specifically, Magistrate Judge Carlson found that Plaintiff failed to “identify any federal constitutional or statutory right that the defendants allegedly violated by refusing his demand to be released from confinement in a halfway house under supervision so that he can reside with his fiancee.” (Doc. No. 5 at 4.) On December 1, 2016, the Court adopted Magistrate Judge Carlson's Report and Recommendation and dismissed Plaintiff's complaint without prejudice, permitting Plaintiff twenty (20) days from the date of its Order to amend his complaint to correct the pleading deficiencies identified by Magistrate Judge Carlson in his Report and Recommendation. (Doc. No. 7.)

         Upon Plaintiff's failure to file an amended complaint within twenty days of the Court's Order, on December 29, 2016, Magistrate Judge Carlson issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that Plaintiff's complaint be dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Doc. No. 8.) No timely objections to Magistrate Judge Carlson's Report and Recommendation have been filed. At this time, no operative pleading exists on the docket as the initial complaint has been dismissed, and Plaintiff has since failed to file an amended complaint.

         Pursuant to Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and “by virtue of its inherent powers, ” a district court may sua sponte dismiss a suit for failure to prosecute Azubuko v. Bell Nat'l Org., 243 F. App'x 728, 729 (3d Cir. 2007); see Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b) (“If the plaintiff fails to prosecute or to comply with these rules or a court order, a defendant may move to dismiss the action or any claims against it.”). A dismissal under Rule 41(b) constitutes an adjudication on the merits, barring any further action between the parties. Landon v. Hunt, 977 F.2d 829, 833 (3d Cir. 1992). Decisions regarding whether to dismiss an action under Rule 41(b) are committed to the sound discretion of the district court. Emerson v. Thiel College, 296 F.2d 184, 190 (3d Cir. 2002). In exercising this discretion, however, the district court is required to balance six factors enumerated by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Poulis v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., 747 F.2d 863 (3d Cir. 1984), prior to dismissing a case under Rule 41(b).[1] Emerson, 296 F.3d at 190. The factors include:

(1) the extent of the party's personal responsibility; (2) the prejudice to the adversary caused by the failure to meet scheduling orders and respond to discovery; (3) a history of dilatoriness; (4) whether the conduct of the party or the attorney was willful or in bad faith; (5) the effectiveness of sanctions other than dismissal, which entails an analysis of alternative sanctions; and (6) the meritoriousness of the claim or defense.

Id. (citing Poulis, 747 F.2d at 868). The Poulis factors are not “a magic formula whereby the decision to dismiss or not to dismiss a plaintiff's complaint becomes a mechanical calculation.” Mindek v. Rigatti, 964 F.2d 1369, 1373 (3d Cir. 1992). Indeed, no one factor is determinative. Id. at 1373.

         With regard to factor (1), as Plaintiff is proceeding pro se in this matter, the Court must view him as personally responsible for his failure to comply with the Court's Order. Further, as to factor (6) and the meritoriousness of Plaintiff's claim, Magistrate Judge Carlson's initial screening of Plaintiff's complaint revealed that Plaintiff failed to identify any constitutional or statutory right allegedly violated by his inability to reside with his fiancee instead of in a halfway house. Finally as to factor (5), as there is currently no operative pleading on the docket in this matter, it is difficult to see what course the Court can take other than dismissal.[2]

         ACCORDINGLY, on this 24th day of January 2017, upon independent review of the record and the applicable law, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:

         1. The Court adopts the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Carlson (Doc. No. 8);

         2. Plaintiff's complaint (Doc. No. 1), is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE; and

         3. The Clerk of Court is ...

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