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Greene v. Parker

United States District Court, D. Delaware

June 11, 2019

JERMAINE GREENE, Plaintiff,
v.
DEPUTY WARDEN PARKER, Defendant.

          Jermaine Greene, Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, Wilmington, Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff

          Joseph Clement Handlon, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware; Counsel for Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, U.S.DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Jermaine Greene, an inmate at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, Wilmington, Delaware filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. When he commenced this action, Plaintiff was housed at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, in Smyrna, Delaware. He appears pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I. 6). Defendant moves to dismiss for failure to prosecute or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. (D.I. 24).

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff commenced this action on May 3, 2017. (D.I. 1). On October 3, 2017, the Court screened the Complaint, dismissed all Defendants except Deputy Warden Parker, and gave Plaintiff leave to amend. (D.I. 8, 9). On October 12, 2017, the order was returned as undeliverable and on October 17, 2017, the Delaware Department provided a new address for Plaintiff. (D.l. 10, 11). The order was remailed and Plaintiff sought, and was given, an extension of time until December 4, 2017 to file an amended complaint. (D.l. 12, 14). When Plaintiff failed to timely file an amended complaint, the case was closed.

         Plaintiff moved for reconsideration, the case was reopened, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint, and a service order was entered. (D.l. 16, 17, 20). Defendant answered, and a scheduling order was entered that provided a discovery deadline of October 5, 2018, and a dispositive motion deadline of February 5, 2019. (D.l. 23).

         On January 31, 2019, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss for Plaintiffs failure to prosecute the case. (D.l. 24). On February 27, 2019, the Court entered an order for Plaintiff to respond to the motion on or before March 19, 2019 and mailed it to the address on the Court docket. (D.I. 25). The order was returned as undeliverable. (D.I. 26). On April 26, 2019, the Court was informed of Plaintiffs new address at the HYRCI and remailed the order to Plaintiff. To date, Plaintiff has not filed a response to the motion to dismiss.

         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). Dismissal "must be a sanction of last, nor first resort." Poulis v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 747 F.2d 863, 869 (3d Cir. 1984).

         The Court should assess the following six factors to determine whether dismissal is warranted and abuses its discretion where it fails to properly consider and balance the factors. Hildebrand v. Allegheny Cty., 923 F.3d 128, 132 (3d Cir. 2019). The six factors are: (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 Hildebrand v. Allegheny Cty., 923 F.3d 128 (3d Cir. 2019); Emerson v. Thiel Coll., 296 F.3d 184, 190 (3d Cir. 2002). The record must support the District Court's findings on the six factors. Poulis, 747 F.2d at 868.

         The 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 Cir. 1988). "[C]ases should be decided on the merits barring substantial circumstances in support of the contrary outcome." Hildebrand, 923 F.3d at 132. If the case is close, "doubts should be resolved in favor of reaching a decision on the merits." Id.

         DISCUSSION

         Defendant moves for dismissal for failure to prosecute, noting that Plaintiff has taken no action in this matter since January 2018, other than to seek extensions of time. Plaintiff has not served discovery as set forth in the June 2018 scheduling order. ...


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