United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
E. Schwab Chief United States Magistrate Judge
plaintiff, Richard Allen Hammonds (“Hammonds”),
has failed to notify this Court of a change of his address.
After being ordered to show cause why this action should not
be dismissed based upon that failure, Hammonds has not
provided any explanation for his inaction. Because Hammonds
failed to comply with the Local Rule and this Court's
Standing Practice Order by notifying this Court of his
address change, we recommend that his case be dismissed.
Background and Procedural History.
November 9, 2016, Hammonds, proceeding pro se,
commenced this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim, alleging cruel
and unusual punishment, denial of medical care, deliberate
indifference, failure to protect, failure to act, failure to
intervene, retaliation, and dereliction of duty. Doc.
1. This Court issued a Standing Practice Order on
November 16, 2016, notifying Hammonds, among other things,
that he has an affirmative obligation to keep this Court
informed of his current address and that failure to do so
might be deemed as abandonment of the lawsuit. Doc.
6. Hammonds filed a motion to proceed in forma
pauperis and a request for this Court to issue two
subpoenas so that he may identify the nineteen John Does in
his complaint. We granted Hammonds's motion to proceed
in forma pauperis and also his request for two
subpoenas. Hammonds filed an amended complaint on February 6,
2017, which names fifty-three defendants. Doc. 26.
The defendants then filed an answer with affirmative defenses
to the amended complaint. Doc. 33.
issued a case management order on March 1, 2017 (doc.
34), a copy of which was sent to SCI-Houtzdale, the
address on record for Hammonds. This copy was returned as
undeliverable on May 8, 2017, with a notation on the envelope
that Hammonds was not at that facility and that he had been
paroled. Doc. 47. We issued an order requiring
Hammonds to show cause, on or before May 30, 2017, why his
action should not be dismissed for his failure to keep the
court informed of his address. Doc. 48. This order
was returned as undeliverable on May 24, 2017. Doc.
Rule 83.18 provides that parties not represented by counsel
“shall maintain on file with the clerk a current
address at which all notices and copies of pleadings, motions
or papers in the action may be served upon.” An action
may be involuntarily dismissed “[i]f the plaintiff
fails to prosecute or to comply with these rules or a court
order.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b). When determining whether to
dismiss as a sanction for failure to prosecute and failure to
comply with court orders, a district court must balance the
following six factors:
(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.
Poulis v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., 747
F.2d 863, 868 (3d Cir.1984). No single factor is dispositive,
Briscoe v. Klaus, 538 F.3d 252, 263 (3d Cir. 2008),
and each factor need not be satisfied for the court to
dismiss an action, Ware v. Rodale Press, Inc., 322
F.3d 218, 221 (3d Cir. 2003). In this case, an assessment of
the Poulis factors weighs in favor of dismissing
first Poulis factor is the extent of the party's
personal responsibility. This factor weighs in favor of
dismissal because Hammonds is personally responsible for
failing to comply with the Local Rule and this Court's
Standing Practice Order. The Standing Practice Order, issued
to Hammonds on November 16, 2016, specifically states that
“[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. 6. Despite this instruction,
Hammonds failed to notify this Court of his new address after
he was released from custody. This Court's May 20, 2017
Order, requiring him to show cause why his action should not
be dismissed, was returned as undeliverable. Doc.
49. Therefore, Hammonds is personally responsible for
his noncompliance with the Local Rule and the Court's
Standing Practice Order.
second Poulis factor is prejudice to the adversary.
The prejudice to the adversary bears substantial weight in
support of a dismissal of a claim. Adams v. Trustees of
N.J. Brewery Employees' Pension Trust Fund, 29 F.3d
863, 873-74 (3d Cir.1994). Prejudice generally includes
“the irretrievable loss of evidence, the inevitable
dimming of witnesses' memories or the excessive and
possibly irremediable burdens or costs imposed on the
opposing party.” Id. at 874. Here,
Hammonds's failure to notify this Court of his address
change has not yet resulted in any prejudice to the
Defendants. But without a valid address or way to contact
Hammonds, this case cannot move forward, and this frustrates
the defendants' interest in timely resolution of the
third Poulis factor is a history of dilatoriness. A
history of dilatoriness might be found from “extensive
or repeated delay or delinquency, ” such as
“consistent non-response to interrogatories, or
consistent tardiness in complying with court orders.”
Adams, 29 F.3d at 874; see alsoWare, 322 F.3d at 222. Here, although Hammonds
failed to notify this Court of his address ...