Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Williams v. Harris

United States District Court, D. Delaware

September 5, 2017


          Moses J. Williams, Middletown, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.

          Michael F. McTaggart, Deputy Attorney General Deputy, Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Defendant.


          STARK, U.S. District Judge


         Plaintiff 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 prosecute.


         Following 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).

         Prior 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)

         In his 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.


         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 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. 1988).


         Initially, 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 ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.