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Sisemore v. Henry County

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

February 6, 2018

JEROLD SISEMORE, Plaintiff,
v.
HENRY COUNTY, Defendant.

          ORDER DISMISSING CASE

          J. DANIEL BREEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Background and Procedural History

         On May 17, 2017, the Plaintiff, Jerold Sisemore, filed a pro se complaint “seeking relief” pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Docket Entry (“D.E.”) 2; D.E. 1 at PageID 1.) That same day, after the case was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Edward Bryant, (Admin. Order 2013-05, Apr. 29, 2013), the magistrate judge granted in forma pauperis status. (D.E. 5.)

         In his December 7, 2017 report, Judge Bryant “recommend[ed] that this Court dismiss Plaintiff's claims against the State of Tennessee and the 24th Judicial District in its entirety, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)[, ] and allow Plaintiff fourteen (14) days to amend his [c]omplaint to allege municipal liability against Henry County for the alleged claims in Plaintiff's [c]omplaint that relate to his imprisonment.”[1] (D.E. 7 at PageID 21-22.) After no objections were filed, this Court entered an order adopting the report and recommendation (“R&R”) on January 11, 2018, dismissing the state of Tennessee and the 24th Judicial District[2]as defendants and permitting Plaintiff to amend his complaint within fourteen days of the entry-date of the order to set forth municipal liability against Henry County for the alleged claims in his complaint relating to his imprisonment. (D.E. 8); see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). The Court also warned that should Sisemore fail to submit such a filing, this case may be dismissed with prejudice for failure to prosecute pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b). (D.E. 8 at PageID 25.)

         Additionally, the Court noted the requirements for establishing municipal liability as set forth by Judge Bryant, who found that “[t]he allegations of this [c]omplaint fail to identify an official policy or custom which caused injury to Plaintiff.” (D.E. 7 at PageID 19-21.) Reasoning that “Plaintiff has not pointed to any policy or custom that caused Henry County . . . to manipulate charges, manufacture guilt, exaggerate punishment and bonds, strap arrestees in chairs, isolate the arrestees naked for days, or strip them of hygiene privileges, ” the magistrate judge indicated that Sisemore failed to state a claim on which relief may be granted, though “due to Plaintiff's pro se status . . . recommend[ed] that Plaintiff be given fourteen (14) days to amend his [c]omplaint to state a claim for municipal liability with respect to paragraph thirteen (13) of his [c]omplaint . . . .” (D.E. 7 at PageID 20-21.)

         According to the docket, Plaintiff has not amended his complaint-or submitted any filings since November 8, 2017-and the 14-day period for doing so has passed. (See D.E. 8 at PageID 25.)

         II. Applicable Law for Dismissing the Case Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b)

         Rule 41 permits a district court to dismiss an action if a plaintiff fails to prosecute or comply with court orders. Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b). While the rule “does not expressly provide for a sua sponte dismissal . . . it is well-settled that the district court can enter a sua sponte order of dismissal under Rule 41(b).” Rogers v. City of Warren, 302 F. App'x 371, 375 n.4 (6th Cir. 2008) (citing Link v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S. 626, 630 (1962)). “The rule allows district courts to manage their dockets and avoid unnecessary burdens on both courts and opposing parties.” Shavers v. Bergh, 516 F. App'x 568, 569 (6th Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (citing Knoll v. AT&T, 176 F.3d 359, 363 (6th Cir. 1999)).

         The Sixth Circuit has articulated four factors to guide district courts in assessing whether dismissal for failure to prosecute is warranted:

(1) whether the party's failure is due to willfulness, bad faith, or fault; (2) whether the adversary was prejudiced by the dismissed party's conduct; (3) whether the dismissed party was warned that failure to cooperate could lead to dismissal; and (4) whether less drastic sanctions were imposed or considered before dismissal was ordered.

Crawford v. Beaumont Hosp.-Wayne, No. 17-1305, 2017 WL 4182098, at *2 (6th Cir. Sept. 12, 2017) (quoting Schafer v. City of Defiance Police Dep't, 529 F.3d 731, 737 (6th Cir. 2008)). “This test attempts to balance certain ‘competing concerns' raised in the context of involuntary dismissals, which include ‘[t]he court's need to manage its docket, the public's interest in expeditious resolution of litigation, and the risk of prejudice to a defendant . . . [with] [a] policy [that] favors disposition of cases on their merits.'” Rogers, 302 F. App'x at 376 n.5 (quoting Little v. Yeutter, 984 F.2d 160, 162 (6th Cir. 1993)). “Although typically none of the factors is outcome dispositive . . . a case is properly dismissed by the district court where there is a clear record of delay or contumacious conduct.” Schafer, 529 F.3d at 737 (quoting Knoll, 176 F.3d at 363). “Contumacious” has been “defined as ‘perverse in resisting authority' and ‘stubbornly disobedient.'” Id. at 737 (quoting Webster's Third New International Dictionary 497 (1986)).

         While “the allegations of a complaint drafted by a pro se litigant are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers in the sense that a pro se complaint will be liberally construed in determining whether it fails to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, ” the Sixth Circuit has permitted dismissal where a pro se plaintiff “failed to adhere to readily comprehended court deadlines of which he was well-aware.” Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)) (recognizing that “dismissal is appropriate when a pro se litigant has engaged in a clear pattern of delay” (citing Holt v. Pitts, 619 F.2d 558, 562 (6th Cir. 1980))).

         III. Dismissing the Case for Failure to Prosecute Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b)

         Applying the Crawford considerations to the present case, the Court finds that dismissal pursuant to Rule 41(b) is warranted. Crawford, ...


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