United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM OPINION RE: DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S REMAINING CLAIM FOR FAILURE TO
PROSECUTE (DOC. NO. 80)
J. Schwab, United States District Judge
Jean Coulter (“Plaintiff” or
“Coulter”) initiated this action against the Paul
Laurence Dunbar Community Center and several individual
Defendants by filing a Complaint on February 1, 2016. Coulter
is no stranger to the federal court system. As a
sophisticated, serial litigator, Coulter has filed numerous
cases in this District Court and has also filed cases in the
Middle District of Pennsylvania, District of Massachusetts,
and Southern District of New York.Coulter is similarly familiar
with the appellate process, having filed multiple appeals to
the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the
United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and at
least two petitions for certiorari to the United
States Supreme Court, Nos. 13-3607 (denied) and
Coulter has more than seven (7) years of litigating
experience in federal court, making her familiar with the
rules and procedures of the courts. Further, in the instant
case, Coulter has been reminded several times of the
importance of timely complying with Orders of Court to ensure
the efficient and fair resolution of this matter - - that she
chose to file in federal court. See Doc. No. 68
(granting Defendant's Motion to Compel Plaintiff's
Compliance with a scheduling order requiring her to meet and
confer with Defendants pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 and
reminding Plaintiff of her obligation to timely comply with
Court Orders, file required pleadings, and to prosecute her
case); Doc. No. 27 (noting that the Court's
scheduling orders setting deadlines are not evidence of bias
against Plaintiff or any party, but are within the
Court's authority and duty to manage each case in
accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 1 - -to
ensure the “just, speedy, and inexpensive determination
of every action and proceeding”).
Procedural History and the Instant Motion
initiated this action by filing a Complaint against
Defendants on February 1, 2016. Doc. No. 1. After
Defendants filed Motions to Dismiss (doc. nos. 10 and 17),
Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint alleging that Defendants
(1) breached a contract or an implied contract to repay a
$50, 000.00 loan Plaintiff made to Defendant Paul Laurence
Dunbar Community Center (the “Dunbar Center”) in
July 2013; (2) were negligent in the management of the Dunbar
Center; (3) fraudulently induced Plaintiff into providing the
loan; and (4) engaged in fraud and a civil conspiracy in the
failure to repay the loan to Plaintiff. Doc. No. 29
and Doc. No. 50-1 (United States Court of Appeals
Opinion finding that a liberal interpretation of
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint includes a claim for
fraudulent inducement). The Dunbar Center entered a Notice of
Offer of Judgment in the amount of “$59, 000.00
inclusive of interest, if any, plus costs accrued to the date
of th[e] offer” on February 29, 2016 - - more than the
full amount of the loan at issue as stated in the Amended
Complaint. Doc. No. 2.
March 29, 2016, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the
Amended Complaint, which the Court granted, finding that
Plaintiff had failed to adequately plead most of her claims
and that the Court lacked jurisdiction over Plaintiff's
remaining breach of contract claim because it did not satisfy
the amount in controversy requirement for the Court to
exercise diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1332. Doc. No. 43. The Court dismissed
Plaintiff's breach of contract claim without prejudice
and directed that it should be filed in state court. Doc.
No. 43. Plaintiff appealed the dismissal to the United
States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which vacated
the dismissals and “remand[ed] for the District Court
to consider in the first instance whether [Plaintiff's]
claims satisfied the amount in controversy requirement as of
the filing of her complaint [including amounts associated
with claims that were ultimately dismissed].” Doc.
No. 50-1. On May 24, 2017, this Court entered a Text
Order, finding that the amount in controversy and diversity
jurisdiction was established by the record and ordering
Defendants to respond to the Amended Complaint. Doc. No. 51.
filed renewed Motions to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended
Complaint in its entirety, except for the breach of contract
claim asserted against the Dunbar Center. Doc. No.
57 and Doc. No. 59.
Court again found that Plaintiff had not adequately pled her
negligent mismanagement, fraudulent inducement, and civil
conspiracy claims and dismissed all claims against all
Defendants except for the breach of contract claim against
the Dunbar Center for the unpaid $50, 000 loan. Doc. No.
69. In the interim, the Court directed the parties to
meet and confer in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 and the
Local Rules, and to submit the Rule 26(f) Report, ADR
Stipulation, and a proposed case management order in advance
of the initial case management conference. Doc. No.
68 (granting Defendants' motion to compel
Plaintiff's compliance, rescheduling the initial case
management conference, and directing Plaintiff to comply with
the previous order setting the case management conference,
doc. no. 52, and to file the required documents,
after she failed to meet with Defendants or respond to their
then filed the required Rule 26(f) Report, a Proposed Case
Management Order, and the ADR Stipulation as directed.
Doc. No. 71, Doc. No. 72, Doc. No. 74. The
Court struck the ADR Stipulation and ordered the Parties to
refile it with the required date of the ADR session and the
names and titles of all persons who would attend. Doc. No.
73. Defendant's Counsel re-filed the ADR Stipulation.
Doc. No. 75. Plaintiff then filed a motion to
reconsider the dismissal of all claims except her breach of
contract claim, along with her fourth motion for recusal.
Doc. No. 77. The Court denied Plaintiff's
motions by Memorandum Order filed August 14, 2017. Doc.
Initial Case Management Conference was rescheduled for August
16, 2017 at 9:00 AM. Doc. No. 68. Defense Counsel
appeared at the conference, but Plaintiff failed to appear.
See Text Minute Entry, 08/16/2017. Plaintiff did not
file any motion seeking a continuance of the initial case
management conference, nor did she contact the Court or
Defense Counsel to offer an explanation for her failure to
appear. Id. Defense Counsel indicated that he had
been in contact with Plaintiff, and met with her as required
by the Court's Order at Doc. No. 68, but that
Plaintiff had not responded to his subsequent attempts to
contact her. Id.
filed a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Prosecution on the same
date. Doc. No. 80. The Court set Plaintiff's
response for August 24, 2017. Doc. No. 82. Plaintiff did not
file a response by August 24, 2017 and has not filed any
response to date. She instead filed notice of an
interlocutory appeal of the Court's Order dismissing all
claims except for her breach of contract claim on August 25,
2017. Doc. No. 84.
Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Remaining Claim for Failure
to Prosecute and Motion for Reasonable Attorney Fees and
Costs incurred in preparing for and attending the Initial
Case Management Conference and for preparation of the instant
motion is now pending before the Court. Doc. No. 80.
For the reasons that follow, the motion will be GRANTED,
Plaintiff's remaining claim will be DISMISSED, and
attorney fees in the amount of $1, 632.50 and costs totaling
$90.86 will be awarded to Defendant.