United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division
Honorable William L. Campbell, Jr., District Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
ALISTAIR E. NEWBERN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
social security appeal, pro se and in forma pauperis
Plaintiff Joseph William Lannom, III, seeks judicial review
of the Commissioner of Social Security's decision denying
his application for supplemental security income (SSI) under
Title XVI of the Social Security Act. (Doc. No. 1.) Lannom
has not filed a motion for judgment on the administrative
record, despite the Court's order directing him to do so.
(Doc. No. 12.) Nor has Lannom responded to the Court's
order requiring him to show cause why this action should not
be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) for
failure to prosecute. (Doc. No. 13.) Because it appears that
Lannom has abandoned his appeal, the Magistrate Judge will
recommend that it be dismissed without prejudice under Rule
41(b) for failure to prosecute.
Factual and Procedural Background
filed this action on September 12, 2018, alleging that the
Commissioner's decision denying him SSI failed to
adequately consider Lannom's medical history. (Doc. No.
1.) The Commissioner answered Lannom's complaint (Doc.
No. 10) and filed the relevant administrative (Doc. No. 11).
On December 13, 2018, the Court directed Lannom to file a
motion for judgment on the administrative record within
twenty-eight days. (Doc. No. 12.) Lannom did not do so. On
April 25, 2019, the Court ordered Lannom to show cause why
this action should not be dismissed due to his failure to
comply with the December 13, 2018 order. (Doc. No. 13.) The
Court warned Lannom that failure to respond to the show-cause
order would likely lead to a recommendation that this action
be dismissed. (Id.) Lannom has not responded.
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.
look to four factors for guidance when determining 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)). Under Sixth Circuit precedent, “none 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.
Court's Local Rules provide that “[a] party
proceeding pro se must keep the Court and opposing
parties apprised of the pro se party's current
address and other contact information, such as telephone
number and email address, if any.” M.D. Tenn. R.
41.01(b) (dismissal for failure of pro se plaintiff to keep
court apprised of current address). A pro se plaintiff's
failure to do so “may result in dismissal of the action
with or without prejudice.” Id. Where, as
here, noncompliance with a local rule is a ground for
dismissal, “the behavior of the noncomplying party
[must] rise 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).
has unduly delayed this action by failing to file a motion
for judgment on the administrative record and ignoring the
Court's show-cause order. This action should therefore be
dismissed without prejudice.
plaintiff's actions demonstrate bad faith, willfulness,
or fault where they “display either an intent to thwart
judicial proceedings or a reckless disregard for the effect
of [plaintiff's] conduct on those proceedings.”
Wu v. T.W. Wang, Inc., 420 F.3d 641, 643 (6th Cir.
2005) (quoting Mulbah, 261 F.3d at 591)). Even if
Lannom's failure to comply with this Court's orders
was not motivated by bad faith, it still reflects
“willfulness and fault” for purposes of Rule
41(b). Hatcher v. Dennis, No. 1:17-cv-01042, 2018 WL
1586235, at *1 (W.D. Tenn. Mar. 30, 2018); see Id.
(explaining that, “[e]ven where there is no clear
evidence of bad faith, failure to respond to a show cause
order is indicative of willfulness and fault”); see
also Malott v. Haas, No. 16-13014, 2017 WL 1319839, at
*2 (E.D. Mich. Feb. 8, 2017) (finding that plaintiff was at
fault for failing to respond to court's show-cause
orders). This factor supports dismissal.