United States District Court, D. Delaware
TYRONE M. ADKINS, Plaintiff,
DALLAS REYNOLDS, et al., Defendants.
plaintiff, Tyrone M. Adkins ("Adkins"), an inmate
at the Sussex Correctional Institution, Georgetown Delaware,
filed this lawsuit pursuant 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on October
1, 2015. He appears pro se and was granted
permission to proceed in forma pauperis. The court
has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Before
the court are the defendants' motion to dismiss for
failure to prosecute and motion for summary judgment. (D.I.
alleges that the defendants violated his constitutional
rights when an unlawful search and seizure occurred at his
residence in 2015. After the defendants were served and
answered the complaint, the court issued a scheduling order
that established deadlines for completing discovery (November
28, 2016) and filing dispositive motions (January 30, 2017).
(D.I. 17.) On May 31, 2016, the defendants served Adkins with
discovery. (D.I. 19, 20.) Adkins did not respond to the
discovery requests. Nor did he seek discovery from the
requested counsel, and his request was denied by the court on
July 19, 2016. (D.I. 22, 23.) When Adkins was deposed on
September 2, 2016, he stated on the record that wanted a
lawyer and would not answer any questions unless a lawyer was
present even though he acknowledged that his request for
counsel had been denied. (See D.I. 28, ex. A.) When
asked about the complaint, Adkins said that it was
self-explanatory and again stated that he would not answer
any questions. During the deposition, he also refused to
provide discovery in response to the previously served
interrogatories and request for production of documents.
defendants filed a motion to dismiss or for sanctions on
September 26, 2015. (D.I. 28) They filed a motion for summary
judgment on January 27, 2017. (D.I. 29.) Adkins did not
respond to either motion. On February 1, 2017, court entered
an order for Adkins to show cause why the case should not be
dismissed for his failure to prosecute. (D.I. 32.) On
February 23, 2017, Adkins responded to the order, but did not
address the issue of his failure to prosecute the case.
Instead, he responded to the defendants' motion to
dismiss and, it appears, he responded to certain discovery
Failure to Prosecute
court turns to the issue of Adkins' failure to prosecute,
given that he did not participate in the discovery process
and did not respond to defendants' motion for summary
judgment. 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,
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., 141 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) (unpublished).
court must balance the factors and need not find that all of
them weigh against the Adkins 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 Adkins' case. First, as a pro se
litigant, Adkins is solely responsible for prosecuting his
claim. See Briscoe v. Klaus, 538 F.3d 252, 258-59
(3d Cir. 2008). Second, the defendants are prejudiced by
Adkins' failure to prosecute. Prejudice occurs when a
plaintiffs 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). Adkins'
failure to participate in the discovery process severely
impedes the defendant's ability to prepare a trial
strategy. He refused to answer questions during his
deposition, he did not seek discovery, and did not respond to
discovery requests until after the expiration of the
discovery and dispositive motion deadlines.
regard to the third factor, the court notes that Adkins has
acted in a dilatory manner when he failed to participate in
this case through the discovery process, and failed to
respond to the motion for summary judgment, and did not
respond to any discovery requests until after the court
entered a show cause order. This leads to the conclusion
that, as to the third factor, there is a history of
the fourth factor, the facts to date lead to a conclusion
that Adkins' failure to prosecute is willful or in bad
faith. Adkins filed this lawsuit, yet failed to participate
in discovery or to respond to dispositive motions. While he
filed a response to the show cause order, it did not provide
any reasons for his failure to prosecute this action. For
these reasons, the court finds Adkins' actions willful
and in bad faith.
the fifth factor, Adkins proceeds pro se and has
been granted pauper status. Hence, it is doubtful
that monetary sanctions would be effective. Finally, as to
the sixth factor, the court takes no ...