Douglasv.Flournoy

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA BRUNSWICK DIVISIONApr 22, 2016
CIVIL ACTION NO.: 2:15-cv-174 (S.D. Ga. Apr. 22, 2016)

CIVIL ACTION NO.: 2:15-cv-174

04-22-2016

MELVIN DOUGLAS, Petitioner, v. V.J. FLOURNOY, Respondent.


ORDER and MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

This matter comes before the Court on Petitioner's failure to keep this Court apprised of his current address as required by this Court's Local Rule 11.1. (Doc. 3.) The Court has no way to communicate with Petitioner due to his failure to update his address, and he has not taken any action in this case in nearly four months. Therefore, I RECOMMEND that Petitioner's Petition, (doc. 1), be DISMISSED without prejudice for his failure to prosecute and failure to follow this Court's Rules. I further RECOMMEND that Petitioner be denied leave to appeal in forma pauperis.

BACKGROUND

Petitioner, an inmate at Federal Satellite Low in Jesup, Georgia, brought this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on December 23, 2015. (Doc. 1.) On December 28, 2015, he paid the $5.00 filing fee. However, prior to his submission of that fee, the Clerk of Court attempted to mail a notice of deficiency to Petitioner at FCI Jesup. (Doc. 2.) That Notice was returned to the Court as undeliverable on January 20, 2016. (Doc. 3.) From the returned mail, it appears that prison officials had attempted to forward the Notice to an address in Henderson, North Carolina. However, the mail included a notation, "person don't [sic] live here check address". (Id.) The Court has not received any pleading from Petitioner attempting to update his address or advise the Court of his whereabouts. Indeed, Petitioner has not taken any action in this case after paying his filing fee nearly four months ago.

DISCUSSION

The Court must now determine how to address Petitioner's failure to keep the Court apprised of his address and failure to prosecute this case. For the reasons set forth below, I recommend that the Petition be dismissed and that Petitioner be denied leave to appeal in forma pauperis.

I. Dismissal for Failure to Prosecute and Failure to Follow this Court's Rules.

A district court may dismiss a petitioner's claims sua sponte pursuant to either Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) ("Rule 41(b)") or the court's inherent authority to manage its docket. Link v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S. 626 (1962); Coleman v. St. Lucie Cty. Jail, 433 F. App'x 716, 718 (11th Cir. 2011) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b) and Betty K Agencies, Ltd. v. M/V MONADA, 432 F.3d 1333, 1337 (11th Cir. 2005)). In particular, Rule 41(b) allows for the involuntary dismissal of a petitioner's claims where he has failed to prosecute those claims, comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or local rules, or follow a court order. Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b); see also Coleman, 433 F. App'x at 718; Sanders v. Barrett, No. 05-12660, 2005 WL 2640979, at *1 (11th Cir. Oct. 17, 2005) (citing Kilgo v. Ricks, 983 F.2d 189, 192 (11th Cir. 1993)); cf. Local R. 41.1(b) ("[T]he assigned Judge may, after notice to counsel of record, sua sponte . . . dismiss any action for want of prosecution, with or without prejudice[,] . . . [based on] willful disobedience or neglect of any order of the Court." (emphasis omitted)). Additionally, a district court's "power to dismiss is an inherent aspect of its authority to enforce its orders and ensure prompt disposition of lawsuits." Brown v. Tallahassee Police Dep't, 205 F. App'x 802, 802 (11th Cir. 2006) (quoting Jones v. Graham, 709 F.2d 1457, 1458 (11th Cir. 1983)).

In Wabash, the Court held that a trial court may dismiss an action for failure to prosecute "even without affording notice of its intention to do so." 370 U.S. at 633. --------

It is true that dismissal with prejudice for failure to prosecute is a "sanction . . . to be utilized only in extreme situations" and requires that a court "(1) conclud[e] a clear record of delay or willful contempt exists; and (2) mak[e] an implicit or explicit finding that lesser sanctions would not suffice." Thomas v. Montgomery Cty. Bd. of Educ., 170 F. App'x 623, 625-26 (11th Cir. 2006) (quoting Morewitz v. West of Eng. Ship Owners Mut. Prot. & Indem. Ass'n (Lux.), 62 F.3d 1356, 1366 (11th Cir. 1995)); see also Taylor v. Spaziano, 251 F. App'x 616, 619 (11th Cir. 2007) (citing Morewitz, 62 F.3d at 1366). By contrast, dismissal without prejudice for failure to prosecute is not an adjudication on the merits, and, therefore, courts are afforded greater discretion in dismissing claims in this manner. Taylor, 251 F. App'x at 619; see also Coleman, 433 F. App'x at 719; Brown, 205 F. App'x at 802-03.

While the Court exercises its discretion to dismiss cases with caution, dismissal of this action without prejudice is warranted. See Coleman, 433 F. App'x at 719 (upholding dismissal without prejudice for failure to prosecute Section 1983 complaint, where plaintiff did not respond to court order to supply defendant's current address for purpose of service); Taylor, 251 F. App'x at 620-21 (upholding dismissal without prejudice for failure to prosecute, because plaintiffs insisted on going forward with deficient amended complaint rather than complying, or seeking an extension of time to comply, with court's order to file second amended complaint); Brown, 205 F. App'x at 802-03 (upholding dismissal without prejudice for failure to prosecute Section 1983 claims, where plaintiff failed to follow court order to file amended complaint and court had informed plaintiff that noncompliance could lead to dismissal). Petitioner has failed to update the Court with his address as required by this Court's Local Rules. S.D. Ga. L. R. 11.1 ("Each attorney and pro se litigant has a continuing obligation to apprise the Court of any address change."). Furthermore, with Petitioner not having taken any action on this case in nearly four months, he has failed to diligently prosecute his claims. Thus, Petitioner has demonstrated a clear record of delay and disregard for this Court's Rules, and a sanction other than dismissal would not suffice to remedy his deficiencies.

For these reasons, Petitioner's Petition, (doc. 1), should be DISMISSED without prejudice for failure to prosecute and failure to follow this Court's Order, and this case should be CLOSED.

II. Leave to Appeal In Forma Pauperis.

The Court should also deny Petitioner leave to appeal in forma pauperis. Though Petitioner has, of course, not yet filed a notice of appeal, it is proper to address these issues in the Court's order of dismissal. See FED. R. APP. P. 24(a)(3) (trial court may certify that appeal of party proceeding in forma pauperis is not taken in good faith "before or after the notice of appeal is filed").

An appeal cannot be taken in forma pauperis if the trial court certifies that the appeal is not taken in good faith. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3); FED. R. APP. P. 24(a)(3). Good faith in this context must be judged by an objective standard. Busch v. Cty. of Volusia, 189 F.R.D. 687, 691 (M.D. Fla. 1999). A party does not proceed in good faith when he seeks to advance a frivolous claim or argument. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 445 (1962). A claim or argument is frivolous when it appears the factual allegations are clearly baseless or the legal theories are indisputably meritless. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989); Carroll v. Gross, 984 F.2d 392, 393 (11th Cir. 1993). Or, stated another way, an in forma pauperis action is frivolous and, thus, not brought in good faith, if it is "without arguable merit either in law or fact." Napier v. Preslicka, 314 F.3d 528, 531 (11th Cir. 2002); see also Brown v. United States, Nos. 407CV085, 403CR001, 2009 WL 307872, at *1-2 (S.D. Ga. Feb. 9, 2009).

Based on the above analysis of Petitioner's action, there are no non-frivolous issues to raise on appeal, and an appeal would not be taken in good faith. Thus, the Court should DENY Petitioner in forma pauperis status on appeal.

CONCLUSION

For the above-stated reasons, it is my RECOMMENDATION that this action be DISMISSED, without prejudice, and that the Clerk of Court be directed to enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal and to CLOSE this case. I further recommend that the Court deny Petitioner leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.

Any party seeking to object to this Report and Recommendation is ORDERED to file specific written objections within fourteen (14) days of the date on which this Report and Recommendation is entered. Any objections asserting that the undersigned failed to address any contention raised in the pleading must also be included. Failure to do so will bar any later challenge or review of the factual findings or legal conclusions herein. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985). Objections to a Report and Recommendation are not the proper vehicle to raise issues and arguments not previously brought before the Court. A copy of the objections must be served upon all other parties to the action. Upon receipt of objections meeting the specificity requirement set out above, a United States District Judge will make a de novo determination of those portions of the report, proposed findings, or recommendation to which objection is made and may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made herein. Objections not meeting the specificity requirement set out above will not be considered by the District Judge. The Clerk of Court shall attempt to serve Petitioner with a copy of this Order and Report and Recommendation at the address in North Carolina on record for Petitioner as well as the address included in Document No. 3.

SO ORDERED and REPORTED and RECOMMENDED, this 22nd day of April, 2016.

/s/_________

R. STAN BAKER

UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA