United States District Court, D. Delaware
MOSES J. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
CORPORAL WILLIAM T. HARRIS, Defendant.
J. Williams, Middletown, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.
Michael F. McTaggart, Deputy Attorney General Deputy,
Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel
U.S. District Judge
Moses J. Williams ("Plaintiff) filed this civil rights
action on April 29, 2015, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
(D.I. 2) He appears pro se and has been granted
in forma pauperis status. On August 7, 2017, the
Court ordered Plaintiff to show cause why this matter should
not be dismissed for his failure to prosecute, pursuant to D.
Del. LR 41.1. (See D.I. 28) Plaintiff timely filed a
response to the Order. Nevertheless, for the reasons that
follow, the Court will dismiss the action for failure to
screening of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2), Plaintiff was allowed to proceed with § 1983
unlawful arrest and excessive force claims against Defendant
Corporal William T. Harris ("Defendant"); all other
Defendants and remaining claims were dismissed as frivolous,
for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, and/or based upon certain Defendants' immunity
from suit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i),
(ii), and (iii).
to the entry of the August 7, 2017 show cause order, the last
action taken by Plaintiff occurred on April 25, 2016, when he
appeared for his deposition. (See D.I. 23) At that
time, Plaintiff stated on the record that he was only
pursuing the illegal or false arrest claim. (See
D.I. 27 at 64) ("the only thing I'm pursuing right
now at this point... is unlawful arrest. That's
it.") On October 3, 2016, Defendant filed a motion for
summary judgment as to that claim under the doctrine of
qualified immunity. (See D.I. 25, 26) When Plaintiff
had taken no action in this matter as of August 7, 2017
(including failing to oppose the motion for summary
judgment), the Court entered a show cause order why the
action should not be dismissed for Plaintiffs failure to
prosecute. (D.I. 28) On August 17, 2017, Plaintiff filed a
request for admissions directed to Defendant. A few days
later, he filed a response to the show cause order. (D.I. 30)
response, Plaintiff states that his failure to oppose the
motion for summary judgment was not the result of delay or a
failure to prosecute. He also states that Defendant
misunderstood his deposition testimony and, it now appears,
he seeks to reinstate all previously dismissed claims and
defendants. It also appears that he seeks additional
discover}' so that he may oppose Defendant's claim of
qualified immunity. He asks that the case not be dismissed
and that he be given additional time to file a response to
the motion for summary judgment.
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.
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
discover}7; (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., 141 F.2d 863, 868 (3d Cir.
1984). The Court must balance the factors and need not find
that all of them weigh against Plaintiff 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. Feenej, 850 F.2dl52, 156 (3d Cir.
the Court notes that Plaintiff provided no explanation for
his failure to take any action in this case for over a year.
He merely states that it was not the ...