United States District Court, D. Delaware
Gillis, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna,
Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff.
Clement Handlon, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department
of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Defendant.
ROBINSON, Senior District Judge
Vurnis Gillis ("plaintiff"), an inmate at the James
T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware, proceeds pro
se and was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. He
filed this civil action on December 16, 2015. (D.I. 3) The
court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Before the court are defendant's motion for summary
judgment and motion to dismiss for failure to prosecute.
(D.I. 11, 13) The court will grant the motion to dismiss for
failure to prosecute and will deny as moot the motion for
alleges that defendant implemented a policy that denies
plaintiff the right to practice his religion. On August 10,
2016, defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. (D.I.
11) On December 12, 2016, defendant filed a motion to dismiss
for lack of prosecution. (D.I. 13) In turn, plaintiff filed a
request for counsel. (D.I. 14) On January 19, 2017, the court
denied the request for counsel and set a February 28, 2017
deadline for plaintiff to respond to defendant's motion
for summary judgment and motion to dismiss for lack of
prosecution. (D.I. 16) To date, plaintiff has not filed a
response to either motion.
FAILURE TO PROSECUTE
court turns to the issue of plaintiff's failure to
prosecute. Other than filing a request for counsel on
December 21, 2016 (see D.I. 14), plaintiff has taken no
action since January 11, 2016, when he filed an affidavit in
support of his first request for counsel (see D.I.
7). Plaintiff did not file responses to the motion for
summary judgment or the motion to dismiss. Pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 41 (b), a court may dismiss an action
"[f]or failure of the plaintiff to prosecute or to
comply with [the Federal Rules] or any order of court. . .
." Although dismissal is an extreme sanction that should
only be used in limited circumstances, dismissal is
appropriate if a party fails to prosecute the action.
Harris v. City of Philadelphia, 47 F.3d 1311, 1330
(3d Cir. 1995).
following six factors determine whether dismissal is
warranted: (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 was willful or in bad faith; (5) the
effectiveness of sanctions other than dismissal, which
entails an analysis of other sanctions; and (6) the
meritoriousness of the claim or defense. Poulis v. State
Farm Fire and Cas. Co., 747 F.2d 863, 868 (3d Cir.
1984); see also Emerson v. Thiel Coll., 296 F.3d
184, 190 (3d Cir. 2002); Huertas v. United States
Dep't of Educ, 408 F.App'x 639 (3d Cir. 2010)
court must balance the factors and need not find that all of
them weigh against plaintiff to dismiss the action.
Emerson, 296 F.3d at 190 (3d Cir. 2002). Because
dismissal for failure to prosecute involves a factual
inquiry, it can be appropriate even if some of the
Poulis factors are not satisfied. Hicks v.
Feeney, 850 F.2d 152, 156 (3d Cir. 1988); Curtis T.
Bedwell & Sons, Inc. v. International Fidelity Ins.
Co., 843 F.2d 683, 696 (3d Cir. 1988) (holding that not
all Poulis factors must weigh in favor of
court finds that the Poulis factors warrant
dismissal of plaintiffs case. First, as a pro se litigant,
plaintiff is solely responsible for prosecuting his claim.
Hoxworth v. Blinder, Robinson & Co., 980 F.2d
912, 920 (3d Cir. 1992). Second, defendant is prejudiced by
plaintiff's failure to prosecute. Prejudice occurs when a
plaintiff's failure to prosecute burdens a
defendant's ability to prepare for trial. Ware v.
Rodale Press, Inc., 322 F.3d 218, 222-23 (3d Cir. 2003).
Plaintiff's failure to take any action impedes
defendant's ability to prepare a trial strategy or
otherwise resolve the dispute.
regard to the third factor, the court notes that plaintiff
has failed to respond to the dispositive motions filed by
defendant. This leads to the conclusion that, as to the third
factor, there is a history of dilatoriness. As to the fourth
factor, the facts to date lead to a conclusion that
plaintiffs failure to prosecute is willful or in bad faith.
Plaintiff filed this lawsuit yet failed to respond to ...