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Lugo v. Matias

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

October 31, 2019

FAUST LUGO, Plaintiff
v.
JACQUELINE MATIAS., et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          ROBERT D. MARIANI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Fausto Lugo ("Lugo"), a former inmate confined in the Lebanon County Prison, Lebanon, Pennsylvania, initiated this action on May 29, 2018 (Doc. 1). 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

         Lugo asserts an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim based upon Defendants' alleged failure to adequately respond to Plaintiffs chest pain, which he reportedly experienced between May 1-3, 2018. (Doc. 1). On August 7, 2018 an answer was filed by Defendant Viramontes, and on July 9, 2019, Defendant Matias filed a motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 15). Lugo did not oppose the motion and has not communicated with the Court since the filing of his Financial Affidavit on June 22, 2018. (Doc. 8).

         By Order dated October 11, 2019, the Court directed Plaintiff to file a brief in opposition to Defendant's pending motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 18). The Order warned Lugo that, failure 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)). Lugo failed to reply to this court's order.

         On October 22, 2019, this Court's October 11, 2019 Order was returned, stating "return to sender, attempted - not known, unable to forward" and that Plaintiff had been released to the street. (Doc. 19).

         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 Fed.Appx. 815, 817 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Mindek v. Rigatti, 964 F.2d 1369, 1373 (3d Cir. 1992)).

         In the present matter, Lugo is pro se and is solely responsible for his actions. See Colon v. Karnes, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14692, at *7, 2012 WL 383666 (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 approximately sixteen months for Lugo to communicate with the Court, and can only conclude that he is personally responsible for failing to inform the Court of his whereabouts.

         Second prejudice to the adversary generally include the retrievable 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). Lugo's continued failure to communicate with the Court and continued inaction frustrates and delays resolution of this action. This failure to communicate clearly prejudices the Defendants who seek 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 compels dismissal).

         Third, Lugo has established a history of dilatoriness through his failure to notify the Court of his whereabouts and failure to comply with Court Order and rules. As is clear from the procedural background of this case, Lugo has not communicated with the Court since June 22, 2018. (Doc. 8). On October 15, 2019, the Court Ordered Lugo to respond to Defendant's pending motion for summary judgment, and warned him that this case was subject to dismissal for failure to prosecute. (Doc. 18). The Order warned Lugo 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)). Lugo failed to comply with the Order and the time for complying has now passed. The Court finds that over the past sixteen months, Lugo 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 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 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 ...


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