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Dickens v. Klein

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 23, 2017

KEVIN L. DICKENS, Plaintiff,
v.
DEPUTY WARDEN KLEIN, et al., Defendants.

          Kevin L. Dickens, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.

          Ryan P. Connell, Deputy Attorney General Deputy, Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for State Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STARE, U.S. District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Kevin L. Dickens ("Plaintiff) filed this civil rights action on September 16, 2010, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (D.I. 2) He appears pro se and was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I. 13) Pending is State Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to prosecute.[1] (D.I. 79) Plaintiff did not respond to the motion. The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the motion.

         II. BACKGROUND

         As noted, Plaintiff commenced this action in 2010 and, since then, numerous defendants and claims have been dismissed. Before the remaining State Defendants answered the Complaint, they moved to sever Plaintiffs. (See D.I. 64) Plaintiff did not respond to the motion. On March 13, 2015, the Court denied the motion to sever and ordered Plaintiff to show cause why some of the Defendants should not be dismissed for failure to serve within 120 days. (D.I. 74) In response, Plaintiff sought an extension of time to serve. (D.I. 75) Plaintiff filed a response to the show cause order on May 4, 2015. (D.I. 76) The Court found that Plaintiff failed to show cause why the defendants at issue should not be dismissed for failure to serve. (See D.I. 77)

         On December 9, 2015, the Court entered a scheduling order that provided a discovery deadline of July 11, 2016 and a dispositive motion deadline of August 11, 2016. (See D.I. 78) According to State Defendants, Plaintiff has conducted no discovery, and the docket supports their position. State Defendants now move to dismiss for failure to prosecute. (D.I. 79) Plaintiff did not file a response to the motion.

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         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. See Harris v. City of Philadelphia, 47 F.3d 1311, 1330 (3d Cir. 1995). Under Local Rule 41.1 in a case pending wherein no action has been taken for a period of three months, upon application of any party, and after reasonable notice and opportunity to be heard, the Court may enter an order dismissing the case unless good reason for the inaction is given. See D. Del. LR 41.1.

         The following six factors are considered in determining 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. See Poulis v. State Farm Fire and Cas. Co., 747 F.2d 863, 868 (3d Cir. 1984). The Court must balance the factors and need not find that all of them weigh against Plaintiff in order to dismiss the action. See Emerson v. Thiel Coll., 296 F.3d 184, 190 (3d Cir. 2002). Because dismissal for failure to prosecute involves a factual inquiry, it can be appropriate even if some of Poulis factors are not satisfied. See Hicks v. Feeney, 850 F.2d 152, 156 (3d Cir. 1998).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         State Defendants move for dismissal based upon Plaintiffs failure to take any action in this case since May of 2015. As noted, Plaintiff did not respond to the motion.

         The 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. See Hoxworth v. Blinder, Robinson & Co.,980 F.2d 912, 920 (3d Cir. 1992). Second, State Defendants are prejudiced by Plaintiffs failure to prosecute. Prejudice occurs when a plaintiffs failure to prosecute burdens the defendant's ability to prepare for trial. See Ware v. Kodak Press, Inc.,322 ...


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