United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
Maureen P. Kelly, Magistrate Judge.
MEMORANDUM ORDER RE: ECF NO. 17
Barry Fischer, Senior U.S. District Judge.
Henry James II, (“Petitioner”), proceeding pro
se, filed a Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of
Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody (the
“Petition”), seeking to challenge his drug
convictions, obtained in the Court of Common Pleas of
Allegheny County. ECF No. 3. For the following reasons, the
Respondents' Motion to Lift the Stay and Dismiss the
Petition, ECF No. 17, will be granted and the Petition will
be dismissed due to Petitioner's failure to prosecute.
case was referred to Magistrate Judge Maureen Kelly in
accordance with the Magistrate Judges Act, 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1), and Local Civil Rules 72.C and D. On July 17,
2014, Respondents filed a Motion to Stay the case so that
Petitioner could exhaust his state court remedies. ECF No.
12. By text order entered on July 18, 2014, Magistrate Judge
Kelly ordered Petitioner to file a response to the Motion to
Stay. Petitioner did not file a response as ordered.
Magistrate Judge Kelly then entered an order granting the
stay and ordered Respondents to inform the Court no later
than December 17, 2014 to inform the Court at that time as to
the status of the case. ECF No. 15.
December 17, 2014, Respondents filed a Status Report,
indicating that Petitioner never filed a PCRA Petition in
state court. ECF No. 16.
December 18, 2014, Magistrate Judge Kelly entered an order,
stating that the case was to remain stayed and that the
parties were to file a notice with the Court upon the filing
of the PCRA petition.
August 22, 2019, Respondents filed a Motion to Lift the Stay
and Dismiss the Petition (“Motion to Lift the
Stay”). ECF No. 17. In the Motion to Lift the Stay,
Respondents pointed out that Petitioner never filed a PCRA
Petition and that he would be time-barred from doing so now.
Respondents pointed out that Petitioner has taken no action
in state or federal court for roughly four-and-one-half
Judge Kelly ordered Petitioner to file a Response to the
Motion to Lift the Stay no later than September 20, 2019. ECF
No. 18. No. response was filed by Petitioner. It further
appears that Petitioner has failed to keep the Court advised
of his current mailing address and Magistrate Judge Kelly
advised Petitioner that he is under a continuing obligation
to do so and indicated that his failure to do so may result
in the dismissal of the case. ECF No. 19.
October 21, 2019, Magistrate Judge Kelly ordered Petitioner
to show cause why the stay should not be lifted, and the
Petition be dismissed due to Petitioner's failure to
prosecute this case. ECF No. 20. Petitioner's response
was due no later than November 5, 2019. Petitioner was warned
that failure to file a response will result in the dismissal
of this case for failure to prosecute. Petitioner never filed
district court has the inherent power to sua sponte
dismiss a case under Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure for a party'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). 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 known as the
Poulis factors 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).
Poulis v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., 747 F.2d
863 (3d Cir. 1984), the United States Court of Appeals for
the Third Circuit set forth the following six factors to be
considered: (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 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. However, “Poulis did not provide a magic
formula whereby the decision to dismiss or not to dismiss a
plaintiff's complaint becomes a mechanical calculation
easily reviewed by” the Court of Appeals. Mindek v.
Rigatti, 964 F.2d 1369, 1373 (3d Cir. 1992). Indeed, the
Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has recognized that
“not all of the Poulis factors need be
satisfied in order to dismiss a complaint. See C.T.
Bedwell & Sons, Inc. v. Int'l. Fidelity Ins.
Co., 843 F.2d 683, 696 (3d Cir. 1988). Instead, the
decision must be made in the context of the district
court's extended contact with the litigant.”
light of Petitioner's failure to file a response to the
Motion to Lift the Stay, and his failure to respond to the
Order to Show Cause, the Court finds the Poulis
factors sufficiently met herein to justify dismissal of this
case with prejudice. Weighing heavily in this Court's
judgment is the first Poulis factor, i.e.,
the extent of the party's personal responsibility.
Petitioner alone is responsible for his failure to file any
petitions in state courts for over four years, and for his
failure to respond to the Motion to Lift the Stay, and his
failure to file a response to the Order to Show Cause. The
same record of Petitioner's inaction in response to Court
orders also establishes a history of dilatoriness, consistent
with the third Poulis factor, and makes the
imposition of any other potential sanctions ineffective, as
is set forth in the fifth Poulis factor. Regarding
the sixth Poulis factor, the merits of
Petitioner's claims, this case was stayed for the express
purpose of permitting him to exhaust state court remedies but
Respondents have reported that he has not done so and that
any such claims would be time-barred under state law,
counseling this Court that dismissal, with prejudice, is more
than appropriate at this juncture. See Docket No.
17. The remaining second and fourth Poulis factors
concerning prejudice to ...