United States District Court, D. Delaware
MATTHEW D. HAGINS, Plaintiff,
WARDEN DAVID PIERCE, et al., Defendants.
Matthew D. Hagins, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center,
Smyrna, Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff.
Clement Handlon, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department
of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware; Counsel for Defendants.
ANDREWS, U.S. JUDGE
Matthew D. Hagins, an inmate at the James T. Vaughn
Correctional Center, in Smyrna, Delaware, filed this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He proceeds pro
se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. Defendants Warden David Pierce, Deputy Warden
Phil Parker, Timothy Radcliffe, and Lt. Brian Reynolds move
to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (D.I. 12).
Moving Defendants also seek dismissal for failure to
prosecute. (D.I. 15). Briefing on the matters is complete.
Complaint alleges that Plaintiff was subjected to excessive
force in February 2017. On October 27, 2017, moving
Defendants, all supervisory officials, filed a motion to
dismiss for lack of personal involvement. (D.I. 12).
Plaintiff's sole allegation against moving Defendants is,
"I have named high ranking officials as Defendants
because they knew what was going on and did nothing
absolutely nothing to protect me!" (D.I. 3 at ¶
November 16, 2017, the Court entered an order for Plaintiff
to file an answering brief on or before December 7, 2017.
(D.I. 14). He did not. As a result, on March 12, 2018, moving
Defendants filed a letter/motion and asked the Court to grant
their motion to dismiss as unopposed or for failure to
prosecute pursuant to D. Del. LR 41.1. (D.I. 15). Plaintiff
did not respond to the letter/motion.
commenced this action on May 1, 2017. (D.l. 1). The last act
taken by Plaintiff in this matter occurred on August 9, 2017,
when he requested the Clerk of Court to issue summons for
Defendant Jayme Jones. (D.l. 9). Plaintiff did not file a
response to moving Defendants' October 27, 2017 motion to
dismiss (D.I. 12), and he did not file a response to moving
Defendants' March 12, 2017 letter/motion to dismiss for
failure to prosecute (D.I. 15).
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).
Court considers the following factors to 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. See Poulis v.
State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 747 F.2d 863, 868 (3d
Cir. 1984); see also Emerson v. ThielColl., 296 F.3d
184, 190 (3d Cir. 2002).
Court must balance the factors and may dismiss the action
even if all of them do not weigh against Plaintiff. See
Emerson, 296 F.3d at 190. Because dismissal for failure
to prosecute involves a factual inquiry, it can be
appropriate even if some of the Poulis factors are
not satisfied. See Hicks v. Feeney, 850 F.2d 152,
156 (3d Cir. 1998); Curtis T. Bedwell & Sons, Inc. v.
International Fidelity Ins. Co., 843 F.2d 683, 696 (3d
Court finds that the Poulis factors warrant
dismissal of Plaintiffs claims against moving Defendants
Pierce, Parker, Radcliffe, and Reynolds. 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,
moving 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. Ware v. Rodale Press, Inc., 322 F.3d 218,
222-23 (3d Cir. 2003). Here, Plaintiff's failure to take
any action delays Defendant's ability to conduct
discovery and/or to develop trial strategy.
the third factor, there is a history of dilatoriness given
that Plaintiff failed to respond to the Rule 12(b)(6) motion
to dismiss or the letter/motion to dismiss for failure to
prosecute. As to the fourth factor, because Plaintiff has
taken no action in close to a year, the Court is unable to
discern whether his failure to prosecute is willful or in bad
faith, but notes that Plaintiff failed to respond to the
motion to dismiss and letter/motion to dismiss for failure to
prosecute and appears to have abandoned his case. Plaintiff
did not respond to the Court's order of November 16,
2017, directing that he respond to the motion to dismiss.
(D.I. 14). As to the fifth factor, there are no alternative
sanctions the Court could effectively impose. Plaintiff
proceeds in forma pauperis. Hence, it is doubtful
that monetary sanctions would be effective. As to the sixth
factor, the merits of the claim, as currently pled, the
Complaint fails to state claims upon which relief may granted
against moving Defendants.
Plaintiff's failure to take any action in this case since
August 2017, and his failure to respond to moving
Defendants' dispositive motions, the Court finds that the
Poulis factors weigh in favor of dismissal.
above reasons, the Court will grant moving Defendant's
letter/motion to dismiss for failure to prosecute and dismiss
as moot the Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. (D.I. 12, 15).
In addition, Plaintiff will be ordered to show cause why the
case should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute against
remaining Defendants Officer J. Kuhner, ...