United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division
William L. Campbell, Jr. Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Alistair E. Newbern United States Magistrate Judge.
action, pro se and in forma pauperis Plaintiff Nico
Farmer alleges that, while he was incarcerated at South
Central Correctional Facility (SCCF) in Clifton, Tennessee,
Defendants Sergeant Matthew Villanueva and Corrections
Officer Don Bright beat him and deprived him of showers and
hygiene supplies and that several other defendants failed to
do anything to address those incidents after Farmer reported
them. (Doc. No. 5.) Now pending are two motions to dismiss
filed by Defendants Warden Cherry Lindamood, Geneva Roberts,
Sergeant Rhonda Staggs, Randall Bridges, Brenda Pevahouse,
and Zubulon Stults. (Doc. Nos. 6, 16.) Farmer has not
responded to those motions, nor has he responded to this
Court's orders directing him to show cause why (1) the
motions to dismiss should not be granted as unopposed and (2)
this action should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute.
(Doc. Nos. 17, 18.) Accordingly, the Magistrate Judge will
recommend that this action be dismissed without prejudice for
failure to prosecute and that the defendants' pending
motions to dismiss (Doc. Nos. 6, 16) be found moot.
Factual and Procedural Background
origin of this action is Harper v. Parker, No.
1:17-cv-00020, in which Farmer and several other incarcerated
plaintiffs alleged that their confinement at SCCF constituted
cruel and unusual punishment. On September 10, 2018, the
Court adopted the Magistrate Judge's recommendation that
Farmer's claims be severed from the other plaintiffs.
(Doc. No. 3.) The Court ordered Farmer to file an amended
complaint containing only his own claims within twenty-eight
days. (Id.) On September 26, 2018, Farmer filed a
complaint alleging that, when he was incarcerated at the
SCCF, Sergeant Villanueva and Corrections Officer Bright beat
Farmer and then deprived him of showers and tissue for three
to five days. (Doc. No. 5.) Farmer also alleges that
Bright sexually assaulted him and that Farmer reported his
mistreatment to Defendants Warden Cherry Lindamood, Geneva
Roberts, and Sergeant Rhonda Staggs, who did nothing.
(Id.) Farmer's complaint contains no allegations
against Defendants Randall Bridges, Brenda Pevahouse, or
Zubulon Stults. On October 9, 2018, Lindamood, Roberts,
Staggs, Randall, Bridges, Pevahouse, and Stults filed a
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6), arguing that Farmer had failed to state a claim
against them. (Doc. Nos. 6, 7.) On the same day, Bright
and Villanueva answered the complaint. (Doc. No. 8.)
February 19, 2019, the Court ordered Farmer to show cause why
it has subject-matter jurisdiction over this action, noting
that Farmer's complaint did not reference federal law or
contain a request for relief. (Doc. No. 14.) Farmer responded
by filing a purported “Amended Complaint” that
stated Bright and Villanueva had deprived Farmer of food at
the SCCF and used excessive force against him. (Doc. No. 15.)
Farmer asked for $100, 000.00 in damages. (Id.) The
defendants responded by filing a renewed motion to dismiss,
echoing the arguments of their first motion. (Doc. No. 16.)
April 26, 2019, the Court declined to construe Farmer's
response to the show-cause order as an amended complaint
because the filing was not in the form of a complaint and did
not incorporate the allegations from his original pleading.
(Doc. No. 17.) The Court further found that Farmer's
response indicated an intent to assert claims of excessive
force under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, thereby asserting a basis
for the Court's subject-matter jurisdiction.
(Id.) However, because Farmer's response did not
address either of the defendants' motions to dismiss, the
Court ordered him to show cause by May 20, 2019, why those
motions should not be granted as unopposed. (Id.)
Farmer has not responded to that order.
that Farmer had lost interest in this action, the Court
ordered him to show cause by July 31, 2019, why his claims
should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute. (Doc. No.
18.) Farmer also has not responded to that order.
Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) “confers on district
courts the authority to dismiss an action for failure of a
plaintiff to prosecute the claim or to comply with the Rules
or any order of the Court.” Schafer v. City of
Defiance Police Dep't, 529 F.3d 731, 736 (6th Cir.
2008) (citing Knoll v. AT&T, 176 F.3d 359,
362-63 (6th Cir. 1999)); see also Link v. Wabash R.R.
Co., 370 U.S. 626, 630 (1962) (recognizing “the
power of courts, acting on their own initiative, to clear
their calendars of cases that have remained dormant because
of the inaction or dilatoriness of the parties seeking
relief”); Carpenter v. City of Flint, 723 F.3d
700, 704 (6th Cir. 2013) (“It is well settled that a
district court has the authority to dismiss sua sponte a
lawsuit for failure to prosecute.”). Dismissal for
failure to prosecute is a tool for district courts to manage
their dockets and avoid unnecessary burdens on opposing
parties and the judiciary. See Schafer, 529 F.3d at
736 (quoting Knoll, 176 F.3d at 363). The Sixth
Circuit therefore affords district courts “substantial
discretion” regarding decisions to dismiss for failure
to prosecute. Id.
factors guide the Court's determination of whether
dismissal under Rule 41(b) is appropriate: (1) the
willfulness, bad faith, or fault of the plaintiff; (2)
whether the defendant has been prejudiced by the
plaintiff's conduct; (3) whether the plaintiff was warned
that failure to cooperate could lead to dismissal; and (4)
the availability and appropriateness of other, less drastic
sanctions. Knoll, 176 F.3d at 363 (citing Stough
v. Mayville Cmty. Sch., 138 F.3d 612, 615 (6th Cir.
1998)). “[N]one of the factors is outcome dispositive,
” but “a case is properly dismissed by the
district court where there is a clear record of delay or
contumacious conduct.” Id. (citing Carter
v. City of Memphis, 636 F.2d 159, 161 (6th Cir. 1980));
see also Muncy v. G.C.R., Inc., 110 Fed.Appx. 552,
555 (6th Cir. 2004) (finding that dismissal with prejudice
“is justifiable in any case in which ‘there is a
clear record of delay or contumacious conduct on the part of
the plaintiff'” (quoting Mulbah v. Detroit Bd.
of Educ., 261 F.3d 586, 591 (6th Cir. 2001))). Because
dismissal without prejudice is a relatively lenient sanction
as compared to dismissal with prejudice, the
“controlling standards should be greatly relaxed”
for Rule 41(b) dismissals without prejudice where “the
dismissed party is ultimately not irrevocably deprived of his
[or her] day in court.” Muncy, 110 Fed.Appx.
at 556 (citing Nwokocha v. Perry, 3 Fed.Appx. 319,
321 (6th Cir. 2001)); see also M.D. Tenn. R. 41.01
(dismissal of inactive cases) (allowing Court to summarily
dismiss without prejudice “[c]ivil suits that have been
pending for an unreasonable period of time without any action
having been taken by any party”).
has ignored this Court's show-cause orders, unduly
delaying this action. Farmer's claims should therefore be
dismissed without prejudice.