JAMES A. WILSON, Plaintiff,
M. DILL, Defendant.
Submitted: September 1, 2014
Upon Consideration of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
James A. Wilson, Pro se.
Michael F. McTaggart, Esquire, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware for Defendant.
Robert B. Young J.
M. Dill ("Defendant"), a Trooper in the Delaware State Police, moves to dismiss James A. Wilson's ("Plaintiff") lawsuit, alleging violations of his civil rights. Following the filing of this lawsuit in the Fall of 2013, Plaintiff has been starkly absent from the litigation, failing to respond to discovery requests and orders of this Court. Defendant contends that Plaintiff's neglect warrants dismissal, pursuant to Superior Court Civil Rule 41, for failure to prosecute. The Court finds that Plaintiff's dormancy rises to the level meriting dismissal of his suit. Thus, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.
FACTS AND PROCEDURES
Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Defendant on September 30, 2013, followed by an Amended Complaint on November 12, 2013. Plaintiff alleges that during a traffic stop conducted by Defendant, his civil rights, protected under Federal and Delaware state law, were violated. Among the purported misdeeds were an illegal search and seizure, and the exercise of racial profiling.
Following the filing of his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff has been absent from the litigation, failing to act on discovery requests from the opposing party, as well as discovery orders issued by this Court. Specifically, Plaintiff's non-responsive conduct resulted in the filing of a Motion to Compel by the Defendant, which this Court granted on July 10, 2014. By its Order, the Court required Plaintiff to respond to Defendant's discovery requests within 10 days. Plaintiff never did so.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Pursuant to Superior Court Civil Rule 41, it is "within the sound discretion of the Court" to dismiss an action for "want of prosecution." This authority draws from the Court's "inherent power to manage its own affairs and to achieve orderly and expeditious disposition of its business." "The purpose is to dispose of cases when necessary, not to allow parties to maintain a faint spark of life in their litigation." In considering such motions to dismiss, the Court must balance the dual policy considerations of "giving litigants a day in Court" and the interests of judicial economy. Where delay is caused by "gross negligence and lack of attention, " dismissal is appropriate. By contrast, where the delay is unavoidable, "the parties should not be made to pay for circumstances beyond their control."
The Plaintiff, not having filed a response to Defendant's motion, the Court considers only Defendant's arguments. Defend ant's position is straightforward. Since filing his Amended Complaint on November 12, 2013 – nearly a year ago – Plaintiff has been a non-participant in this litigation. During this time, Plaintiff has received communication from both Defendant and this Court, but provided no answer. Plaintiff's inactivity forced Defendant to file a Motion to Compel, leading to this Court's intervention in July 2014, ...