United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
RONALD L. WELLER, Plaintiff
FRANKLIN COUNTY JAIL et al., Defendants
H. RAMBO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
March 23, 2018, Plaintiff Ronald L. Weller, a pro se
litigant, filed this civil rights action while confined at
the Cumberland County Prison in Carlisle, Pennsylvania,
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Franklin County
Jail and Warden William Bechtold. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff
complained of the condition of the clothing he received while
a pretrial detainee confined at the Franklin County Jail.
(Id. at 5.)
Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint without prejudice
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). (Doc. Nos. 10, 11.) The Court
granted Plaintiff twenty days from its April 16, 2018 Order
to file an amended complaint. (Doc. No. 11.) The Court also
denied without prejudice Plaintiff's motion to appoint
counsel. (Id.) On May 3, 2018, Plaintiff filed a
motion for reconsideration of this Court's April 16, 2018
Order denying without prejudice Plaintiff's motion for
appointment of counsel. (Doc. No. 15.)
also requested an extension of time in which to file his
amended complaint. (Id.) On May 8, 2018, the Court
denied Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration but granted
him twenty days in which to file an amended complaint. (Doc.
No. 16.) The Court further cautioned Plaintiff that his
failure to file an amended complaint within twenty days would
result in the dismissal of this action for his failure to
29, 2018, the Court's May 8, 2018 Order was returned as
“undeliverable.” (Doc. No. 17.) It was further
noted that Plaintiff was no longer housed at the Cumberland
County Prison, but rather, was now located at the Franklin
County Prison. (Id.) While Plaintiff did not provide
the Court with his updated address as required by the
Court's March 23, 2018 standing practice Order (Doc. No.
3), the Docket reflects that his address was updated by the
Clerk and the May 8, 2018 Order was resent to Plaintiff on
May 29, 2018. (Id.) On June 26, 2018, the Court
again received its May 8, 2018 Order indicating that it was
returned as “undeliverable” and “unable to
forward.” (Doc. No. 18.) The Clerk noted on the Docket
that it appears that Plaintiff has been paroled and is out of
custody. (Id.) To date, the Court has received
neither an amended complaint nor any correspondence from
Plaintiff providing the Court with an updated address.
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 this Court's
March 23, 2018 Order by failing to keep the Court apprised of
Plaintiff's current address (Doc. No. 3), and has also
failed to comply with the Court's May 8, 2018 Order by
failing to file an amended complaint (Doc. No. 16). 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. No. 3.) Plaintiff was also cautioned
that his failure to file an amended complaint as set forth in
this Court's May 8, 2018 Order would result in the
dismissal of this action. (Doc. No. 16.) The last
communication that the Court received from Plaintiff was on
May 3, 2018. (Doc. No. 15.) Mail returned to the Court
reveals that Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated at either
the Cumberland County Prison or the Franklin County Prison.
(Doc. Nos. 17, 18.) To date, Plaintiff has failed to comply
with the Court Orders directing him to provide the Court with
an updated address and to file an amended complaint. (Doc.
Nos. 3, 16.) Therefore, this factor weighs in favor of
dismissal. As to the second factor, the Court does not find
that Defendants have been prejudiced because they have not
yet been served.
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 motion for
reconsideration (Doc. No. 15), on May 3, 2018. 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.
No. 3.) Plaintiff's failure to provide the Court with an
updated address even after the Court's previous orders
cautioning 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 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 Plaintiff and this matter is unable to continue without
an amended complaint filed by 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 ...