United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
H. RAMBO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Wilfredo Melendez, a pro se litigant, filed this
civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
eight employees of the State Correctional Institution at
Waymart, Pennsylvania (“SCI-Waymart”), on
November 23, 2016. (Doc. No. 1.) At the time of filing the
complaint Plaintiff was incarcerated at SCI-Greene.
(Id.) After service of the complaint, Defendants
filed a partial motion to dismiss (Doc. No. 17.) On August 8,
2017, the Court granted Defendants' partial motion to
dismiss the complaint and Ordered Defendants to file an
answer to the remaining allegations of the complaint. (Doc.
No. 27.) Defendants filed their answer and affirmative
defenses to the complaint on August 28, 2017. (Doc. No. 28.)
Plaintiff filed a “response in opposition” to
Defendants' answer on October 23, 2017. (Doc. No. 31.)
This was the last communication that the Court received from
Plaintiff in this matter.
April 23, 2018, the Court granted Defendants' motion for
an extension of time to complete discovery and to file
dispositive motions. (Doc. No. 34.) On April 24, 2018, the
Court also granted Defendants' motion to take
Plaintiff's deposition. (Doc. No. 36.) On May 2, 2018,
the Court received and docketed returned mail from SCI-Greene
indicating that it was returned as “Refused, ”
ostensibly because Plaintiff's sentence was completed on
February 20, 2018. (Doc. Nos. 37, 38.) On May 4, 2018,
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss this action for lack of
prosecution. (Doc. No. 39.) In their brief in support,
Defendants attach an envelope with a notation that
Plaintiff's sentence was completed on February 20, 2018.
(Doc. No. 40.)
failure to provide the Court with an updated address
indicates that he may have lost interest in prosecuting this
lawsuit. For instance, Plaintiff has failed to adhere to the
Court's November 23 and December 28, 2016 Orders, which
placed an affirmative obligation on Plaintiff to keep the
Court informed of his current address. (Doc. Nos. 5 at 4 and
9 at 5.) The Orders cautioned that his failure to do so would
result in the dismissal of his action for failure to
prosecute if the Court and/or parties are unable to serve
pleadings, orders, or otherwise communicate with him.
Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) allows for the dismissal of an
action for “failure of the plaintiff to prosecute or
comply with these rules or order of court.” District
courts have the inherent power to dismiss an action for
failure to prosecute sua sponte. Chambers v.
NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 44 (1991). In the instant
case, Plaintiff has failed to comply with the November 23 and
December 28, 2016 Orders of this Court by failing to keep the
Court and Defendants apprised of his current address. When
determining whether to dismiss an action for a
plaintiff's failure to prosecute under Rule 41(b), the
Court must balance six (6) factors set forth in Poulis v.
State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., 747 F.2d 863 (3d Cir.
1984). These 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. at 868. Not all of the Poulis factors
need be satisfied to dismiss a complaint. See Mindek v.
Rigatti, 964 F.2d 1369, 1373 (3d Cir. 1992); Shahin
v. Delaware, 345 Fed.Appx. 815, 817 (3d Cir. 2009).
the first factor, it is Plaintiff's sole responsibility
to comply with Court orders. See Emerson v. Thiel
Coll., 296 F.3d 184, 191 (3d Cir. 2002); Winston v.
Lindsey, Civ. No. 09-224, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137022,
at *6 (W.D. Pa. Nov. 30, 2011) (concluding that a pro
se litigant “bears all of the responsibility for
any failure to prosecute his claims”). Plaintiff was
specifically warned that his failure to keep the Court
apprised of his current address would result in the dismissal
of this action. (Doc. Nos. 4, 5, 9.) The last communication
that the Court received from Plaintiff was on October 23,
2017. (Doc. No. 31.) Mail returned to both the Court and
Defendants reveal that Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated at
SCI-Greene, as his sentence was completed on February 20,
2018. (Doc. Nos. 37, 38, 39.) To date, Plaintiff has not
complied with the Court Orders directing him to provide the
Court with an updated address. This factor therefore weighs
in favor of dismissal.
the second factor, the prejudice to the adversary,
Plaintiff's failure to litigate this case or to comply
with Court orders now wholly frustrates and delays the
resolution of this action. Defendants are unable to depose
Plaintiff because Plaintiff's whereabouts are unknown. In
such instances, the Defendants are plainly prejudiced by
Plaintiff's continual inaction, and dismissal of the case
clearly rests in the discretion of the trial judge.
Tillio v. Mendelsohn, 256 Fed.Appx. 509 (3d Cir.
2007) (failure to timely serve pleadings compels dismissal).
the third factor, a history of dilatoriness, it is clear from
the procedural background of this case that Plaintiff has not
communicated with the Court since filing a “response in
opposition” to Defendants' answer to his complaint
(Doc. No. 31), on October 23, 2017. Moreover, Plaintiff has
not provided the Court with an updated address. A pro
se plaintiff has the affirmative obligation to keep the
Court informed of his address. See (Doc. Nos. 4, 5,
9.) Plaintiff's failure to provide the Court with an
updated address even after the Court's previous orders
cautioned him that his case would be dismissed should he not
comply indicates an intent not to continue with this
litigation. See Pozoic v. Cumberland Cty. Prison,
Civ. No. 11-1357, 2012 WL 114127, at *3 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 13,
2012); Bush v. Lackawanna Cty. Prison, Civ. No.
14-cv-1253, 2017 WL 2468795, at *2 (M.D. Pa. June 7, 2017).
Accordingly, this factor also weighs in favor of dismissal.
Court finds that the fourth factor, whether Plaintiff's
conduct was willful or in bad faith, also weighs in favor of
dismissal. Plaintiff's failure to abide by the
Court's Orders “demonstrate[s] a willful disregard
for procedural rules and court directives.” Gilyard
v. Dauphin Cty. Work Release, Civ. No. 10-1657, 2010
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128400, at *5-6 (M.D. Pa. Dec. 6, 2010).
examination of the fifth factor, effectiveness of sanctions
other than dismissal, reveals that no other sanction is a
viable alternative because the Court is unable to communicate
with the Plaintiff. See Jauquee v. Pike Cty. Corr. Fac.
Employees, No. 12-cv-1233, 2013 WL 432611, at *1 (M.D.
Pa. Feb. 1, 2013); see also Pozoic, 2012 WL 114127,
at *4; Purveegiin v. Gonzalez, Civ. No. 07-1020,
2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34550, at *4 (M.D. Pa. Apr. 23, 2009).
Additionally, confronted by a pro se litigant who
will not comply with the rules or court ...