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Kinney v. Wetzel

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 12, 2018

RANDY LEE KINNEY, Plaintiff
v.
JOHN WETZEL, Defendant

          MEMORANDUM

          Robert D. Mariani United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Randy Lee Kinney ("Kinney"), a former Pennsylvania state inmate who, at all times relevant, was housed at the State Correctional Institution at Retreat, in Hunlock Creek, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Retreat"), and the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy, in Frackville, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Mahanoy"),[1] initiated this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). Named as the sole Defendant is John Wetzel, Secretary of the Department of Corrections. [Id.). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss this action for failure to prosecute and failure to comply with a Court Order.

         I. Background

         The allegations of the complaint relate to Kinney's medical care for the Hepatitis C viral infection. (Doc. 1). On December 6,2017, Defendant filed an answer to the complaint with affirmative defenses. (Doc. 17).

         On November 9,2017, Kinney filed a motion to appoint counsel. (Doc. 16). On May 4,2018, the Court issued a Memorandum and Order denying Kinney's motion to appoint counsel. (Docs. 18,19). The Court's mail was returned, unopened, as undeliverable, and marked as inmate paroled. (Doc. 20). Accordingly, on May 22,2018, the Court Ordered Kinney to provide his current address. (Doc. 21). The Order warned Kinney that, "[f]ailure to comply with this Order may result in the dismissal of this case for failure to prosecute." [Id.) (citing Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b)). Kinney failed to reply. Kinney has not communicated with the Court since November 9,2017, and has not provided the Court with a current, updated address.

         II. Discussion

         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). The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has identified six (6) factors a court should consider before dismissing an action for failure to prosecute:

(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 & Cas. Co., 747 F.2d 863,868 (3d Cir. 1984) (emphases omitted).

         Not all of the Poulis factors need be satisfied to dismiss a complaint. See Shahin v. Delaware, 345 F. App'x 815,817 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Mindek v. Rigatti, 964 F.2d 1369, 1373 (3d Cir. 1992)).

         A. Analysis of the Poulis Factors

         1. The extent of the party's personal responsibility

         In the present matter, Kinney is pro se and is solely responsible for his actions. See Colon v. Karnes, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14692, at *7 (M.D. Pa. 2012) ("Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, and thus is responsible for his own actions."). At this point, the Court has been waiting seven months for Kinney to communicate with the Court, and can only conclude that he is personally responsible for failing to inform the Court of his whereabouts.

         2. The prejudice ...


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