United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
C. POPLIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636, the Rules of this Court, and Standing Order 13-02. On
June 14, 2019, the Court entered an Order to Show Cause [Doc.
18] directing Plaintiff to show cause on or before June 28,
2019, for her failure to file a dispositive motion and brief
in support as directed by the Court's July 16, 2018 Order
[Doc. 16]. Plaintiff filed a Response on June 28, 2019, [Doc.
19] stating multiple reasons for why she had not filed her
dispositive motion, including several deaths in her family.
The Court then entered an Order [Doc. 20] on July 3, 2019,
directing Plaintiff to file her dispositive motion and brief
in support within thirty days. This deadline has passed
without the filing of a dispositive motion. For the reasons
stated herein, the undersigned will
RECOMMEND that the District Court dismiss
this action without prejudice.
October 25, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint [Doc. 1]
against the Defendant due to a denial of Title XVI disability
benefits. After Plaintiff failed to perfect service within
the ninety-day deadline, on March 22, 2018, the Court ordered
Plaintiff to show cause on or before April 4, 2018, as to why
her case should not be dismissed. [Doc. 7]. After Plaintiff
filed a Motion for an Extension of Time to File [Doc. 8], on
April 11, 2018, the Court granted Plaintiff an additional
forty-five days to effectuate proper service [Doc. 9].
Plaintiff then properly served the Defendant. [Doc. 11].
the Commissioner filed his Answer [Doc. 12], the Court
entered an Order [Doc. 16] on July 16, 2018, setting forth a
briefing scheduling. Specifically, Plaintiff was ordered to
file a dispositive motion and a brief in support within
forty-five (45) calendar days from the date of the
Court's Order. The forty-five (45) day deadline expired
on August 30, 2018, without any response from Plaintiff.
Based upon Plaintiff's failure to file a dipositive
motion, the Court entered an Order to Show Cause [Doc. 18] on
June 14, 2019. The Court ordered Plaintiff to show cause on
or before June 28, 2019, as to why the undersigned should not
recommend to the District Court that this matter be dismissed
without prejudice for her failure to prosecute. [Doc. 18].
After Plaintiff responded [Doc. 19], the Court ordered
Plaintiff to file her dispositive motion and brief in support
by August 2, 2019 [Doc. 20].
subsequently filed a letter from Karen Moyers, A.P.N.-B.C.
[Doc. 21], stating that Plaintiff is a part of the outpatient
Program for Assertive Community Treatment at the Helen Ross
McNabb Center, detailed Plaintiff's history of mental
illness, and requested that Plaintiff's disability
“should be backdated to May 2014 instead of May
2016.” [Id. at 3].
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b), courts have
inherent power to dismiss an action due to a plaintiff's
failure “to prosecute or to comply with these rules or
a court order.” See Carter v. City of Memphis,
Tenn., 636 F.2d 159, 161 (6th Cir. 1980) (“It is
clear that the district court does have the power under Rule
41(b), Fed. R. Civ. P., to enter a sua sponte order of
dismissal.”) (citing Link v. Wabash R. Co.,
370 U.S. 626 (1962)). “The power to invoke this
sanction is necessary in order to prevent undue delays in the
disposition of pending cases and to avoid congestion in the
calendars of the District Courts.” Link, 370
U.S. at 629. Moreover, “a district court can dismiss an
action for noncompliance with a local rule . . . if the
behavior of the noncomplying party rises to the level of a
failure to prosecute under Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure.” Tetro v. Elliott Popham Pontiac,
Oldsmobile, Buick, & GMC Trucks, Inc., 173 F.3d 988,
992 (6th Cir. 1999). This District's local rules admonish
pro se plaintiffs that “[t]he failure . . . to timely
respond to an order or pleading addressed to the last address
provided to the Clerk may result in dismissal of the case or
other appropriate action.” E.D.TN. LR 83.13.
Courts consider the following four factors in determining
whether to dismiss an action for failure to prosecute under
(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.
Schafer v. City of Defiance Police Dept., 529 F.3d
731, 737 (6th Cir. 2008) (citing Knoll v. Am. Tel. &
Tel. Co., 176 F.3d 359, 363 (6th Cir. 1999)).
“‘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.'” Id.
present matter, the Court finds that the record demonstrates
delay and contumacious conduct. The Court has repeatedly
directed and instructed Plaintiff of missed deadlines, first
ordering Plaintiff to show cause regarding her failure to
perfect service within the ninety-day deadline. After service
was effectuated, and the Court entered a briefing schedule,
Plaintiff failed to file her dispositive motion and brief in
support. While Plaintiff responded [Doc. 19] to the
Court's Order [Doc. 18] directing her to show cause as to
why her case should not be dismissed for the failure to
prosecute, she subsequently failed to file her dispositive
motion, despite the Court warning her that “her failure
to meet this extended deadline may result in the dismissal of
her case pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
41(b).” [Doc. 20 at 2].
Court notes that Plaintiff responded to the Court's most
recent orders [Docs. 19 & 21]. However, Plaintiff again
failed to file a dispositive motion setting forth her claims,
even as Plaintiff's dispositive motion was originally
required to be filed by August 30, 2018. At this point, over
eleven months have passed, and the Court is unable to
ascertain the alleged errors committed by the Commissioner in
the disability decision. Further, even liberally construing
Plaintiff's response, the Court is unable to interpret it
as a motion for summary judgment.
has been given ample time to prosecute her case, as well as
adequate notice that the failure to file a dispositive motion
or comply with the Court's deadlines would result in this
Court recommending that her case be dismissed. Given
Plaintiffs pattern of failing to meet deadlines imposed by
the Court, the Court finds that the only appropriate sanction
is dismissal.See Jourdan v. Jabe,951 F.2d 108,
110 (6th Cir. 1991) (holding that ...