United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division
M. BRANDON ADAMS
BENJAMIN BEANE, et al.
REPORT AND RECOMENDATION
BARBARA D. HOLMES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Honorable William L. Campbell, Jr., District Judge
Order entered August 18, 2017 (Docket Entry No. 6), this
pro se and in forma pauperis prisoner civil
rights action was referred to the Magistrate Judge for
pretrial proceedings pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
636(b)(1)(A) and (B), Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, and the Local Rules of Court.
pending before the Court is the motion (Docket Entry No. 57)
of Defendant Daniel Epley to dismiss this lawsuit under Rule
41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff has
not responded to the motion. For the reasons set forth below,
the undersigned Magistrate Judge respectfully recommends that
the motion be granted and this action be dismissed.
Adams (“Plaintiff”) is a former inmate of the
Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”) who
is no longer incarcerated. He filed this lawsuit pro
se and in forma pauperis on June 16, 2017,
seeking damages and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for violations of his federal constitutional rights
alleged to have been committed at the Turney Center
Industrial Complex (“Turney Center”) in Only,
Tennessee. Process was issued to TDOC correctional employees
Daniel Epley (“Epley”) and Stacy Oakes
(“Oakes”) on Plaintiff's claim that they
violated his Fourteenth Amendment equal protection rights by
discriminatory enforcement of prison disciplinary rules.
See Docket Entry No. 6 at 2.
Oakes was served with process, and a scheduling order was
entered providing for a period of pretrial activity.
See Docket Entry No. 24. Defendant Oakes
subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment, which was
granted by Order entered October 1, 2018 (Docket Entry No.
52). Process for Defendant Epley was initially returned
unexecuted, but he was eventually served with process and
filed an answer. See Docket Entry No. 48. Two
amended scheduling orders were entered providing for
additional periods of pretrial activity. See Docket
Entry Nos. 53 and 56.
Plaintiff failed to respond to a motion by Defendant Epley to
compel discovery from Plaintiff, see Motion (Docket
Entry No. 55), the Court (1) gave Plaintiff a May 24, 2019,
deadline to serve upon Defendant Epley his responses to
interrogatories and (2) ordered Plaintiff to appear for his
deposition at a date to be reset and noticed by counsel for
Defendant Epley. See Order entered May 9, 2019
(Docket Entry No. 56). Plaintiff was specifically warned that
his failure to comply with the Court's directives may
result in the imposition of sanctions against him, including
a recommendation for dismissal of the action. Id.
pending motion to dismiss, Defendant Epley contends that
Plaintiff has not complied with the Court's order
compelling Plaintiff to participate in discovery. Defendant
Epley asserts that he has not been provided with
Plaintiff's written discovery responses. Additionally,
counsel for Defendant Epley asserts that, in the process of
attempting to reschedule Plaintiff's deposition, counsel
spoke with Plaintiff by phone and Plaintiff indicated that he
no longer wished to proceed with the lawsuit. Although
counsel had subsequent communications with Plaintiff about
executing a motion to voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit, a
motion which counsel drafted and provided to Plaintiff,
Plaintiff failed to file the motion and he ceased
communicating with counsel for Epley. See Motion to
dismiss (Docket Entry No. 57) and attached exhibits (Docket
Entry Nos. 57-1 through 57-5). Given these events, Defendant
Epley seeks dismissal of this lawsuit under Rule 41(b)
because of Plaintiff's failure to prosecute.
Order entered August 7, 2019 (Docket Entry No. 58), Plaintiff
was given a deadline of August 26, 2019, to file a response.
Plaintiff was specifically advised that his failure to file a
timely response would result in a recommendation that the
motion be granted and this action be dismissed. Id.
Plaintiff has not filed a response to the motion.
37(b) of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure provides that
the Court may make such orders "as are just" when a
party fails to obey an order to provide discovery. Sanctions
are set forth in Rule 37(b)(2) and include the sanction of
“dismissing the action or proceeding in whole or in
part.” Rule 37(b)(2)(A)(v). Rule 16(f)(1) also provides
that “on motion or on its own, the Court may issue any
just orders, including those authorized by Rule
37(b)(2)(A)(ii)-(vii), if a party ... (C) fails to obey a
scheduling or other pretrial order.” Finally, it is
well settled that federal trial courts have the inherent
power to manage their own dockets, Link v. Wabash
R.R., 370 U.S. 626 (1961), and Rule 41(b) permits the
Court to dismiss an action upon the showing of a clear record
of delay, contumacious conduct, or failure to prosecute by a
plaintiff. See Bishop v. Cross, 790 F.2d 38 (6th
Cir. 1986); Carter v. City of Memphis, Tennessee,
636 F.2d 159, 161 (6th Cir. 1980). The imposition of
sanctions and the type of sanctions imposed are matters
within the sound discretion of the Court based on the facts
of each particular case. See National Hockey League v.
Metropolitan Hockey Club, 427 U.S. 639 (1976);
Regional Refuse Sys. v. Inland Reclamation Co., 842
F.2d 150, 154 (6th Cir. 1988).
failure to respond to the motion to compel, failure to
respond to the pending motion to dismiss, and failure to
comply with the Court's May 9, 2019 Order warrants the
dismissal of the action. Despite the explicit warnings of the
consequences, Plaintiff has ignored the orders of the Court.
His actions indicate that he has lost interest in this
lawsuit, and his refusal to engage in discovery has
prejudiced Defendant Epley's ability to defend this case.
the Court recognizes Plaintiff's status as a pro
se litigant affords him with some leeway in the
litigation of his case, proceeding pro se does not
relieve a litigant from the basic obligations required of all
parties with respect to discovery and compliance with the
orders of the Court. See Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d
108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991); Davis v. Bilbrey, 2012 WL
2947587 (M.D. Tenn. July 19, 2012) (Haynes, J.) (pro
se plaintiff's failure to respond to discovery
requests and adhere to court imposed deadlines warranted
sanction of dismissal); Hanners v. Jones, 2007 WL
2710694 (M.D. Tenn. Sept. 13, 2007) (Nixon, J.) (same).
Plaintiff has exhibited an unwillingness to prosecute the
action in the normal fashion. Dismissal of the action with
prejudice is appropriate in light of ...