United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
ANTHONY J. GRACIA, Plaintiff
JOHN STEINHART, et al., Defendants
Christopher C. Conner, United States District Court Chief
Anthony Gracia (“Gracia”) is a former inmate who
was housed at all relevant times at the State Correctional
Institution at Dallas, Pennsylvania
(“SCI-Dallas”). Gracia commenced this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). The remaining
named defendant is Corrections Health Care Administrator John
Steinhart. (Id.) Before the court is defendant's
motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
41(b) for failure to prosecute this action. (Doc. 23). For
the reasons that follow, the court will grant defendant's
motion, dismiss the complaint, and close this case.
alleges that on March 29, 2018, he swallowed multiple
“foreign bodies including screws, razor blade pieces,
etc.” (Doc. 1, at 2). He reported this fact to the
medical department on the same day. (Id.) Gracia
complains that, instead of sending him to the emergency room,
the medical department placed him in a Psychiatric
Observation Cell for one week. (Id. at 2-3). As a
result, Gracia claims that he suffered from “nearly
unsupervised” pain for three days. (Id. at 3).
The complaint contains no specific allegations against
defendant Steinhart. (See Doc. 1).
August 15, 2019, defendant filed a motion to dismiss pursuant
to Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for
failure to prosecute. (Doc. 24). Gracia did not file a
response to defendant's motion. On August 21, 2019, the
court issued an order directing Gracia to file with the
court, within twenty days, his current address. (Doc. 26).
The court further cautioned Gracia that failure to respond to
the court's order could result in dismissal of the action
for failure to prosecute and failure to comply with a court
order. (Id.) Gracia failed to respond in any way to
the court's order.
moving to dismiss pursuant to Rule 41(b), defendant contends
that the factors set forth by the United States Court of
Appeals for the Third Circuit in Poulis v. State Farm
Fire & Cas. Co., 747 F.2d 863, 868 (3d Cir. 1984),
support dismissal of Gracia's complaint. (Doc. 25). The
Poulis court has identified six factors a court
should consider before dismissing an action for failure to
(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, 747 F.2d at 868 (emphases omitted). Not all
of the Poulis factors need be satisfied to dismiss a
complaint. See Shahin v. Delaware, 345 Fed.Appx.
815, 817 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Mindek v. Rigatti,
964 F.2d 1369, 1373 (3d Cir. 1992)).
present matter, Gracia 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 for six months for Gracia to
communicate with the court, and can only conclude that he is
personally responsible for failing to inform the court of his
prejudice to the adversary 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.” Adams v. Trustees of N.J. Brewery
Emps.' Pension Trust Fund, 29 F.3d 863, 874 (3d Cir.
1994). Prejudice also includes “the burden imposed by
impeding a party's ability to prepare effectively a full
and complete trial strategy.” Ware v. Rodale Press,
Inc., 322 F.3d 218, 222 (3d Cir. 2003). Gracia's
continued failure to communicate with the court and his
continued inaction frustrates and delays the resolution of
this case. This failure to communicate prejudices the
defendant who seeks a timely resolution of the case. See
Azubuko v. Bell National Organization, 243 Fed.Appx.
728, 729 (3d Cir. 2007) (stating that plaintiff's failure
to file an amended complaint prejudices defendants and
Gracia has established a history of dilatoriness through his
failure to notify the court of his whereabouts and failure to
comply with court orders and rules. Specifically, Gracia has
not communicated with the court since March 29, 2019. (Doc.
18). On August 21, 2019, the court ordered Gracia to provide
the court with his current address, and warned him that this
case was subject to dismissal for failure to prosecute. (Doc.
26). Gracia failed to comply with that order, and the time
for complying has now passed. The court finds that over the
past six months, Gracia has delayed this matter to the extent
that his conduct constitutes a “continuous stream of
dilatory conduct.” Briscoe v. Klem, 538 F.3d
252, 261 (3d Cir. 2008). A pro se plaintiff has the
affirmative obligation to keep the court informed of his
address. (See M.D. Pa. Local Rule of Court 83.18
(providing that a pro se plaintiff “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 such party.”); see
also Doc. 6, at 4, Standing Practice Order in Pro Se
Plaintiff Cases). Should such address change in the course of
this litigation, the plaintiff shall immediately inform the
court of such change, in writing. (Id.) If the court
is unable to communicate with the plaintiff because he has
failed to notify the court of his address, the plaintiff will
be deemed to have abandoned the lawsuit. (Id.) It is
clear that Gracia has failed to comply with the terms set
forth in Middle District of Pennsylvania Local Rule 83.18 and
the Standing Practice Order.
the next factor, “[w]illfulness involves intentional or
self-serving behavior.” Adams, 29 F.3d at 874.
It appears that at least some of this dilatory behavior was
performed willfully and in bad faith, as Gracia has offered
no explanation for his failure to provide the court with his
current address, and has been less than diligent in pursuing
this matter. Gagliardi v. Courter, 144 Fed.Appx.
267, 268 (3d Cir. 2005) (holding that the district court did
not abuse its discretion by dismissing plaintiff's
complaint for failure to prosecute, where plaintiff failed to
respond to defendants' motion to dismiss for more than
three months and this failure to comply prejudiced
a district court must consider the availability of sanctions
alternative to dismissal. Poulis, 747 F.2d at 869.
Given Gracia's indigence, alternative, monetary,
sanctions would not be effective. See Dennis v.
Feeney, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7328, at *5 (M.D. Pa.
2012) (finding, “monetary sanctions are unlikely to be
efficacious given that Plaintiff is indigent”).