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Carpenter v. Officer Spade

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

October 25, 2019

CHRISTOPHER ERIC CARPENTER, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER SPADE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          Cynthia Reed Eddy, U.S. Magistrate Judge.

         For the reasons stated herein, this case will be dismissed[1] without prejudice for failure to prosecute.

         I. Procedural History

         This action was instituted with the filing of a motion to proceed in forma pauperis on August 16, 2019 (ECF No. 1), which was granted by order dated April 22, 2019. (ECF No. 2). The Complaint was filed on April 22, 2019. (ECF No. 3). Plaintiff was informed by the Court in its Memorandum Order of April 22, 2019, that he must notify the Court of all address changes. (ECF No. 2). He was again so advised[2] by order dated April 25, 2019. (ECF No. 8 at 5). Plaintiff subsequently filed several notices of change of address. (ECF Nos. 19, 20). On September 12, 2019, Defendants Officer Spade and Andy Radevski filed a motion to dismiss with brief in support. (ECF Nos. 25, 26). The court converted the motion to a motion for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 and ordered a response brief to be filed by Plaintiff on or before October 16, 2019. (ECF No. 27). This order, as well as a text order setting a deadline for the filing of an election for either consenting to jurisdiction by the Magistrate Judge or to have District Judge assigned to the case (ECF No. 28) were sent to Plaintiff at his address of record, SCI Mercer, 801 Butler Pike, Mercer, PA, 16137, but were returned to the court on October 3, 2019 marked “Return to Sender. Refused. Inmate Paroled.” (ECF No. 30).

         On October 4, 2019, we entered an order that Plaintiff show cause, on or before October 21, 2019, why this action should not be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) in that he has failed to keep the Court informed of his address. He was further notified that should he fail to do so, the Court will deem him to have abandoned this lawsuit, and the case will be dismissed. This order was sent to his address of record, SCI Mercer, 801 Butler Pike, Mercer, PA, 16137.

         The time for responding to the Order to Show Cause has now passed. Therefore, consistent with the October 4, 2019 Order, and pursuant to Poulis v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 747, F.2d 863 (3d Cir. 1984), the case now is subject to dismissal.

         II. Discussion

         A district court has inherent power to dismiss a complaint, sua sponte, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) for a plaintiff's failure to comply with an order of court. Adams v. Trustees of New Jersey Brewery Employees' Pension Trust Fund, 29 F.3d 863, 871 (3d Cir. 1994) (“The Supreme Court affirmed, stating that a court could dismiss sua sponte under Rule 41(b).”); Guyer v. Beard, 907 F.2d 1424, 1429 (3d Cir. 1990). Furthermore, a court's decision to dismiss for failure to prosecute is committed to the court's sound discretion. See Collinsgru v. Palmyra Bd. of Educ., 161 F.3d 225, 230 (3d Cir. 1998) (“We review for abuse of discretion a district court's dismissal for failure to prosecute pursuant to Rule 41(b).”), abrogated on other grounds by Winkelman ex rel. Winkelman v. Parma City School Dist., 550 U.S. 516 (2007). In exercising that discretion, a district court should, to the extent applicable, consider the six factors identified in Poulis v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., 747 F.2d 868 (3d Cir. 1984), when it levies the sanction of dismissal of an action for failure to obey discovery schedules, failure to prosecute, or to comply with other procedural rules. Harris v. City of Philadelphia, 47 F.3d 1311, 1330 n.18 (3d Cir. 1995).

         In Poulis, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit set forth the following six factors to be weighed in considering whether dismissal is proper:

(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. These factors must be balanced in determining whether dismissal is an appropriate sanction, although not all need to weigh in favor of dismissal before dismissal is warranted. Hicks v. Feeney, 850 F.2d 152 (3d Cir. 1988). Consideration of these factors follows.

         1. The extent of the party's personal responsibility.

         Plaintiff is proceeding in this matter pro se. Certain Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss, converted to a motion for summary judgement, to which Plaintiff has not responded. Plaintiff has not filed a Notice of Change of Address. The responsibility for this failure to comply is Plaintiff's alone.

         2. Prejudice ...


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