Case No.: 1:19-cv-0056 -DAD-JLT
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS DISMISSING THE ACTION WITHOUT PREJUDICE FOR PLAINTIFF'S FAILURE TO PROSECUTE AND FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE COURT'S ORDER
Alexander Conte Hall asserts Robert A. Crow and Linear Entertainment breached an agreement related to an album release. Because Plaintiff has failed to prosecute the action through serving the summons and complaint, and thereby failed to comply with the Court's orders regarding service, it is recommended the action be DISMISSED without prejudice. I. Relevant Background
Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a complaint on January 10, 2019. (Doc. 1) After he paid the filing fee on March 7, 2019, the Court issued the summons and its order setting a mandatory scheduling conference for June 3, 2019. (Docs. 8, 9) In the order setting the conference, the Court indicated:
The Court is unable to conduct a scheduling conference until defendants have been served with the summons and complaint. Accordingly, plaintiff(s) shall diligently pursue service of summons and complaint and dismiss those defendants against whom plaintiff(s) will not pursue claims. Plaintiff(s) shall promptly file proofs of service of the summons and complaint so the Court has a record of service. Counsel are referred
to F.R.Civ.P., Rule 4 regarding the requirement of timely service of the complaint. Failure to timely serve the summons and complaint may result in the imposition of sanctions, including the dismissal of unserved defendants.
(Doc. 7 at 1) Despite this, Plaintiff failed filed a proof of service of the summons and complaint.
On May 22, 2019, the Court issued an order to Plaintiff to show cause why sanctions—including dismissal of the action— should not be imposed for his failure to comply with the Court's order and failure to prosecute. (Doc. 10) In the alternative, Plaintiff was directed to file a proof of service no later than June 7, 2019. (Id. at 1) To date, Plaintiff has not responded to the Court's orders or taken any other action to prosecute this matter. II. Failure to Prosecute and Obey the Court's Orders
The Local Rules, corresponding with Fed. R. Civ. P. 11, provide: "Failure of counsel or of a party to comply with . . . any order of the Court may be grounds for the imposition by the Court of any and all sanctions . . . within the inherent power of the Court." LR 110. "District courts have inherent power to control their dockets," and in exercising that power, a court may impose sanctions including dismissal of an action. Thompson v. Housing Authority of Los Angeles, 782 F.2d 829, 831 (9th Cir. 1986). A court may dismiss an action for a party's failure to prosecute an action or failure to obey a court order. See, e.g. Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1260-61 (9th Cir. 1992) (dismissal for failure to comply with an order to file an amended complaint); Malone v. U.S. Postal Service, 833 F.2d 128, 130 (9th Cir. 1987) (dismissal for failure to comply with a court order); Henderson v. Duncan, 779 F.2d 1421, 1424 (9th Cir. 1986) (dismissal for failure to prosecute and to comply with local rules). III. Discussion and Analysis
To determine whether to dismiss an action for failure to prosecute and failure to obey a Court order, the Court must consider several factors, including: "(1) the public's interest in expeditious resolution of litigation; (2) the court's need to manage its docket; (3) the risk of prejudice to the defendants; (4) the public policy favoring disposition of cases on their merits; and (5) the availability of less drastic sanctions." Henderson, 779 F.2d at 1423-24; see also Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 1260-61; Thomspon, 782 F.2d at 831.
A. Public interest and the Court's docket
In the case at hand, the public's interest in expeditiously resolving this litigation and the Court's interest in managing the docket weigh in favor of dismissal. See Yourish v. Cal. Amplifier, 191 F.3d 983, 990 (9th Cir. 1999) ("The public's interest in expeditious resolution of litigation always favors dismissal"); Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 1261 (recognizing that district courts have inherent interest in managing their dockets without being subject to noncompliant litigants). This Court cannot, and will not hold, this case in abeyance based upon Plaintiff's failure to comply with the Court's order and failure to take action to continue prosecution in a timely manner. See Morris v. Morgan Stanley & Co., 942 F.2d 648, 652 (9th Cir. 1991) (a plaintiff has the burden "to move toward... disposition at a reasonable pace, and to refrain from dilatory and evasive tactics"). Accordingly, these factors weigh in favor of dismissal of the action.
B. Prejudice to Defendants
To determine whether the defendants suffer prejudice, the Court must "examine whether the plaintiff's actions impair the ... ability to go to trial or threaten to interfere with the rightful decision of the case." Malone, 833 F.2d at 131 (citing Rubin v. Belo Broadcasting Corp., 769 F.2d 611, 618 (9th Cir. 1985)). Significantly, a presumption of prejudiced arises when a plaintiff unreasonably delays the prosecution of an action. See Anderson v. Air West, 542 F.2d 522, 524 (9th Cir. 1976). Here, Plaintiff has not taken any action to further his prosecution of the action, despite being ordered by the Court to do so. Therefore, this factor weighs in favor of dismissal.
C. Consideration of less drastic sanctions
The Court "abuses its discretion if it imposes a sanction of dismissal without first considering the impact of the sanction and the adequacy of less drastic sanctions." United States v. Nat'l Medical Enterprises, Inc., 792 F.2d 906, 912 (9th Cir. 1986). However, a court's warning to a party that the failure to obey could result in dismissal satisfies the "consideration of alternatives" requirement. See Malone, 833 F.2d at 133; Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 1262. As the Ninth Circuit explained, "a plaintiff can hardly be surprised" by a sanction of dismissal "in response to willful violation of a pretrial order." Malone, 833 F.2d at 133.
The Court warned Plaintiff in the order setting a settlement conference that "[f]ailure to timely serve the summons and complaint may result in the imposition of sanctions, including the dismissal of unserved defendants." (Doc. 7 at 1) Again in the order to show cause, Plaintiff was " advised that failure to comply will result in a recommendation that the matter be dismissed ." (Doc. 10 at 2, emphasis in original) Importantly, the Court need only warn a party once that the matter could be dismissed for failure to comply to satisfy the requirements of Rule 41. Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 1262; see also Titus v. Mercedes Benz of North America, 695 F.2d 746, 749 n.6 (3rd Cir. 1982) (identifying a "warning" as an alternative sanction). Accordingly, the warnings to Plaintiff satisfied the requirement that the Court consider lesser sanctions, and this factor weighs in favor of dismissal of the action. See Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 1262; Henderson, 779 F.2d at 1424; Titus, 695 F.2d at 749 n.6.
D. Public policy
Given Plaintiff's failure to prosecute the action and failure to comply with the Court's order, the policy favoring disposition of cases on their merits is outweighed by the factors in favor of dismissal. See Malone, 833 F.2d at 133, n.2 (explaining that although "the public policy favoring disposition of cases on their merits . . . weighs against dismissal, it is not sufficient to outweigh the other four factors"). IV. Findings and Recommendations
Plaintiff failed to comply with the Court's orders dated March 11, 2019 (Doc. 7) and May 22, 2019 (Doc. 10) and failed to prosecute this action through serving the summons and complaint upon the defendants. Based upon the foregoing, the Court RECOMMENDS:
1. This action be DISMISSED without prejudice; and
2. The Clerk of Court be DIRECTED to close the action.
These Findings and Recommendations are submitted to the United States District Judge assigned to the case, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Rule 304 of the Local Rules of Practice for the United States District Court, Eastern District of California. Within fourteen days after being served with these Findings and Recommendations, Plaintiffs may file written objections. Such a document should be captioned "Objections to Magistrate Judge's Findings and Recommendations." /// /// ///
Plaintiff is advised that failure to file objections within the specified time may waive the right to appeal the District Court's order. Martinez v. Ylst, 951 F.2d 1153 (9th Cir. 1991); Wilkerson v. Wheeler, 772 F.3d 834, 834 (9th Cir. 2014). IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: June 11 , 2019
/s/ Jennifer L. Thurston
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE