Stewart v. Honda Manufacturing of Alabama
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins on 3/12/2013. (JLC)
2013 Mar-12 AM 11:56
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
DANIEL B. STEWART, JR.,
HONDA MANUFACTURING OF
CIVIL ACTION NO.:
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Plaintiff Daniel B. Stewart, Jr. (“Mr. Stewart”) is proceeding pro se in this
lawsuit. On January 16, 2013, Defendant filed a Motion To Compel (Doc. 16)
relating to several discovery deficiencies on the part of Mr. Stewart. Despite the
briefing schedule set out in appendix III to this court’s uniform initial order (Doc. 3)
entered on July 30, 2012, Mr. Stewart never responded to Defendant’s Motion To
Accordingly, on February 20, 2013, this court granted Defendant’s Motion To
Compel, and entered an order compelling Mr. Stewart to provide to Defendant, no
later than March 6, 2013, his Rule 26(a) initial disclosures as well as more complete
responses to Defendant’s interrogatories and requests for production of documents.
(Doc. 17 at 2). Further, within this compulsion order, the court expressly advised Mr.
The court further cautions Mr. Stewart that if he does not
adequately and timely address the outstanding discovery issues
identified in this order, then he risks a dismissal of his lawsuit with
or without prejudice for lack of prosecution due to his
non-compliance with the court’s orders, rules, and other applicable
(Doc. 17 at 2).1
Now pending before the court is Defendant’s Motion To Dismiss Plaintiff’s
Complaint for Failure To Prosecute and Non-Compliance with Court Order (Doc. 19)
(the “Motion”) filed on March 11, 2013. The Motion, brought pursuant to Rules 37
and 41 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, seeks to dismiss Mr. Stewart’s claims
with prejudice due to his failure to meet his discovery obligations and adhere to the
court’s compulsion order. (Doc. 19 at 1; id. at 3 ¶¶ 7, 9).
As the Motion substantiates, Mr. Stewart has neither rectified the overdue
discovery matters that are contained in the compulsion order nor sought additional
time from this court to in which to satisfy such requirements. (Doc. 19 at 3 ¶¶ 7-8).
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorize this court to dismiss a currently
CM/ECF reflects that Mr. Stewart received a copy of the court’s compulsion
order via certified mail delivery on February 23, 2013. (Doc. 18 at 1).
pending action when the record demonstrates a plaintiff’s unwillingness to cure
ongoing discovery deficits.
More specifically, under Rule 37(b)(2)(A)(v), “[i]f a party . . . fails to obey an
order to provide or permit discovery, including an order under Rule 26(f), 35, or
37(a), the court where the action is pending may issue further just orders. . . .
[including] dismissing the action or proceeding in whole or in part[.]” Fed. R. Civ.
P. 37(b)(2)(A)(v); cf. Phipps v. Blakeney, 8 F.3d 788, 790 (11th Cir. 1993)
(“[D]ismissal [under Rule 37] may be appropriate when a plaintiff’s recalcitrance is
due to wilfulness, bad faith or fault.” (citing National Hockey League v. Metro.
Hockey Club, Inc., 427 U.S. 639, 96 S. Ct. 2778, 49 L. Ed. 2d 747 (1976))).
Additionally, pursuant to Rule 41(b), a defendant may move for the dismissal of an
action for the failure of a plaintiff to prosecute or to comply with the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure or with any order of the court. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b) (“If the
plaintiff fails to prosecute or to comply with these rules or a court order, a defendant
may move to dismiss the action or any claim against it.”).2
Case law also reinforces that, as a result of Mr. Stewart’s failure to comply with
Pursuant to Rule 41(b), such a dismissal is customarily treated as an
adjudication upon the merits. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b) (“Unless the dismissal order
states otherwise, a dismissal under this subdivision (b) . . . operates as an adjudication
on the merits.”).
this court’s order compelling him to meet his discovery obligations owed to
Defendant, the court possesses the inherent power to dismiss this case. See Link v.
Wabash Railroad Co., 370 U.S. 626, 630-31, 82 S. Ct. 1386, 1389, 8 L. Ed. 2d 734
(1962) (“The authority of a court to dismiss sua sponte for lack of prosecution has
generally been considered an ‘inherent power,’ governed not by rule or statute but by
the control necessarily vested in courts to manage their own affairs so as to achieve
the orderly and expeditious disposition of cases.”); see also Goforth v. Owens, 766
F.2d 1533, 1535 (11th Cir. 1985) (“The court’s power to dismiss is an inherent aspect
of its authority to enforce its orders and insure prompt disposition of lawsuits.” (citing
Link, 370 U.S. at 630-31, 82 S. Ct. at 1388-89)); Gratton v. Great American
Communications, 178 F.3d 1373, 1374 (11th Cir. 1999) (recognizing that court has
broad authority under Rule 37 to control discovery and enforce its orders).
Against this legal backdrop, Mr. Stewart’s flagrant disregard of this court’s
order of compulsion, including the undersigned’s express warning about the
significant repercussions (i.e., the risk of an involuntary dismissal) if he did not meet
his deadline of March 6, 2013, means that he has foregone the opportunity to further
pursue his action against Defendant. See Moon v. Newsome, 863 F.2d 835, 837 (11th
Cir. 1989) (“While dismissal is an extraordinary remedy, dismissal upon disregard
of an order, especially where the litigant has been forewarned, generally is not an
abuse of discretion.” (citing State Exchange Bank v. Hartline, 693 F.2d 1350, 1352
(11th Cir. 1982))) (emphasis added).
Moreover, Mr. Stewart’s pattern of non-compliance with this court’s orders
(i.e., the uniform initial order as well as the compulsion order) makes it extremely
doubtful that he would respond in any meaningful way to some lesser sanction. Cf.
Phipps, 8 F.3d at 790-91 (“When the record clearly demonstrates that a plaintiff
deliberately and defiantly refused to comply with several court orders on discovery
and tells the court that he will not comply in the future, a district judge has the
authority to deny that plaintiff further access to the court to pursue the case.”).
Accordingly, this case is due to be dismissed with prejudice based upon Mr. Stewart’s
failure to comply with multiple orders, to honor his discovery obligations, and to
prosecute his case in conformance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the
local requirements of this court. Cf. Moon, 863 F.2d at 837 (“Still, once a pro se IFP
litigant is in court, he is subject to the relevant law and rules of court, including the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.”).
In sum, Defendant’s Motion is due to be granted, and Mr. Stewart’s case is due
to be dismissed with prejudice. The court will enter a separate final judgment order
consistent with this memorandum opinion.
DONE and ORDERED this 12th day of March, 2013.
VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS
United States District Judge
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